For those of us who have spent much time at sea, we know that endless mystery waits beneath the surface of even the calmest waters. Once you have survived an intense storm, there is always the anticipation of the next. As you float above the surface, countless fathoms of giant sea creatures battle tirelessly beneath in a constant struggle of life and death. There are a few places in scripture that give us a glimpse of the most fierce of all time – Leviathan.
The Lord reminds Job that mere flesh and blood are no match for this savage creature of the deep. If you were to get him to the surface and survive, you would never try it again. However, our struggle is not against flesh and blood, and we do not wage war the way the world does. As much as this ancient dragon roars, he is a defeated enemy.
Psalm 74:12-14 12 Yet God my King is from of old, working salvation in the midst of the earth. 13 You divided the sea by your might; you broke the heads of the sea monsters on the waters. 14 You crushed the heads of Leviathan; you gave him as food for the creatures of the wilderness.
If we are content enough to ride the surface, maybe he will even leave us alone. We are no threat to him. Meanwhile those around us are being devoured. If we go after him we will be in for a fight we will not forget. Our God calls us into this battle, gives us the privilege to participate as a warrior, and assures us victory at the end of the war.
Finding freedom in Christ from demonic strongholds allows us to help others find that freedom also. Over time through the power of the Holy Spirit we can weaken the influence dark powers attempt to gain over us, and eventually crush them. This doesn't often happen easily, and they always seem to raise their head in other areas like the many heads of Leviathan. Interpersonal struggles, nightmares, sleeplessness, and strange accidents all seem to be part of the battle.
A few months ago Amy passed out on the bus. She said she woke up to strangers standing over her and helped her to get off at the bus stop. Abby and Anna were there and used Amy's phone to call me. Amy went to the doctor and everything checked out okay, but the whole incident was pretty scary.
Our entire neighborhood spent months under road construction. During this time we climbed in and out of holes, scaled around heavy equipment, and clung to shrubbery as we navigated the precarious conditions. Our neighbors who have cars were not able to park at their house during this period, and all of us endured together. I guess sometimes difficulty helps normal times seem easier. The grueling walk up our hill seems much easier now with a normal road surface and free of obstacles.
One of the other missionaries here started taking mixed martial arts classes and told me about it. Our family was interested so we went to check it out. It was actually great and the people teaching the class were very kind and patient. The classes were offered for free because it was a club that just met to help each other train. The problem was that it was meeting in an abandoned warehouse that was a squatter settlement. That's why it was free.
The fact that I'm a pastor of an International Church automatically opens the door for great spiritual conversations. Obviously I'm not from here so one of the first questions I get asked is why I'm here. Once I tell people they seem to open up immediately and want to talk about spiritual things. Seems like a normal connection. If I find out someone does a particular job I usually ask them questions about it as a way to connect.
We went to the club for a couple of months before the main trainer decided to ask questions. We had a great conversation where he shared his beliefs with me and asked about mine. I was able to share the gospel clearly with him and the others there. His response was “so it is deep.” Yep. Deep.
After that conversation we went back a couple more times only to find that no one was there. Shortly after this we discovered all the squatters were being evicted. They aren't going quietly and things appear that they will escalate over time before real force is brought in. Once this happened we didn't go back anymore. Every time I pass by there now there are signs of struggle along with graffiti, and now a flag hanging in a window that says “Respect Existence or Expect Resistance”. I have learned that any opportunity to share the gospel on such an intimate level is a privilege. The problem is that Leviathan hates it.
Being a part of an international community brings insight difficult to experience in other contexts. There is a German guy that is a part of our church that I have had the privilege of getting to know well. He is a wonderful man and a joy to be around. We went on a bike ride together on or around the D-Day anniversary. He is a serious student of history, a deep thinker, and sees things through a powerful Christ-like lens.
As we were discussing the events of D-Day we were able to personalize it with each other. If we had been alive during this time period it is quite likely that we could have faced each other fighting to the death. I could have been drafted, and he conscripted both as Christians. As I looked across the table at my brother whom I love dearly I didn't even know how to make sense of this.
Living life without a car has actually been freeing. The German guy and I have been on a couple of rides together, but it seems that mostly I'm by myself on these rides. Once out of the city there is so much to explore here. It only takes a short time to find a place that is lonely and quiet. It is during these times that I'm able to pray, reflect, and be recharged by my Father in heaven.
Amy seems to have mixed feelings about living life without a car. All of the negatives are very valid, but the most difficult being getting groceries. This changed recently when one of the local supermarkets started offering free delivery. Who would have thought that grocery delivery could bring so much joy to my wife. I guess its just the small things sometimes.
I have always loved to read, but couldn't bring my library with me here due to space and weight limitations. I have countless books that I can access electronically and this is helpful. However, it is just not the same as holding a book in my hand. A family that was visiting from Canada for a month gave me a book as a gift upon leaving. The book is Dare to Lead by Brené Brown. The book is great, encouraging, and insightful – but the fact that it is an actual paper book helps so much to get into it. Even though no content is changed through electronic copies, it seems that something is lost in intimacy.
Luke will be married in just a few days. This is a huge life milestone for our whole family. Our first son will be leaving us to start a new family. Even this has brought much resistance and they have experienced it personally. The reality of a culture that doesn't value Godly living surfaced even in ridicules from doctors on their choice to stay pure before marriage. I know that God will bless them beyond all this as they start their new life together putting Him first.
As head after head is raised and cut from the great beast of the deep, we can be assured that we are more than conquerors because Christ has defeated him for us. We now have the privilege to participate as the battles play out leading to the final victory when the war will finally be over.
Isaiah 27:1 In that day the LORD with his hard and great and strong sword will punish Leviathan the fleeing serpent, Leviathan the twisting serpent, and he will slay the dragon that is in the sea.