“God Incarnate is the end of fear;
and the heart that realizes that He is in the midst,
and takes heed to the assurance of His loving presence,
will be quiet in the midst of alarm.”
— F.B. Meyer
During the spring of 1995, five students from Southwestern College in Phoenix (including our Lisa) formed a ministry team and prepared for a six-week summer missions project in Costa Rica. With Jonathan getting ready for his move to New York City, it was hard for me to feel excited about Lisa’s decision to make yet another trip to Latin America. I was afraid she might not return to us a third time. But she did return safely – O me of little faith – and as I listened to one amazing story after another, I knew without doubt that the hand of her heavenly Father had protected and strengthened her during the journey.
One incident touched me deeply.
Lisa, Dave, Russ, Kelly and Heather had traveled to the village of Puerto Viejo for several days of ministry to the children living there. The Bible stories and related activities they’d prepared had been politely accepted and gratefully enjoyed by the children they’d interacted with in other villages. But these kids were rude and uncooperative. They seemed impossible to reach.
After two discouraging days of struggle with the unruly bunch, the team felt they should approach God’s throne with some intensive prayer. So before bed that night, Lisa, Kelly and Heather spent time petitioning the Lord with their needs. As they prayed, the girls noticed eerie music playing in the distance and a haunting voice that sang to strange sounding, suspended chords. They felt uneasy but tried to go to sleep.
In the early morning hours, Lisa turned on a flashlight to help Kelly find the bathroom. As the beam moved across one wall, it struck a huge spider about the size of a saucer! Kelly tried to smash it with the heel of her shoe, but the spider was unscathed. After working for over an hour to destroy the creature, she finally managed to squash it with a mop handle.
Trying not to dwell on thoughts of avenging spider relatives, the three girls returned to their beds and used the flashlight to take one more look around the room. On the exact spot where the giant spider had been, there was a gigantic cockroach!
“Okay,” Lisa reasoned, “cockroaches don’t bite. We’ve got to get some sleep, so let’s just ignore it.”
They were almost asleep when the disgusting insect flew onto Kelly’s face. The screaming young women began to suspect that a negative spiritual force might be trying to frighten them away from the village.
The next morning, Dave and Russ laughed and teased about the girls’ giant spider story and their evil spirit theory. But by afternoon they were ready to admit that they couldn’t explain a baffling mystery: Why were the riotous, unreachable children of Puerto Viejo noticeably calmer and more attentive that day?
We know that Satan can disguise himself in many ways. We also know that back in the Garden of Eden, Eve was unafraid of the attractive yet wily reptile that spoke to her in such a soothing and coercive way. It was only after she and her husband used their gift of freewill to disobey God that His protection was breached and they became subject to fear for the very first time.
The writer of Genesis tells us that there was a tangible relationship between the Creator and His creation in the beginning. We are told that the Lord God “was walking in the garden in the cool of the day” as Adam and Eve’s eyes were being opened. They heard His footsteps, and the guilt-ridden couple realized that the protective covering they had taken for granted had been removed. They noticed that they were naked. They felt ashamed and afraid (Genesis 3:8-10).
It’s obviously no coincidence that when Satan showed up, Adam and Eve experienced drastic mindset and lifestyle changes. It’s also no coincidence that thousands of years later God showed up again, in the flesh, to walk in the midst of mankind and reassure His children that there is a Way to recover and restore that original, comforting relationship with the Father.
“The Lord is my light and my salvation —
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life —
of whom shall I be afraid?”
A RUST REMOVER …
There’s always a connection between Satan “showing up” and the sin nature that was triggered in the beginning when the first couple chose to believe the devil rather than their Creator. The next time you are tempted to do things your way rather than God’s way, turn the tables on the deceiver and adjust your behavior accordingly.