Friday, April 29, 2016
God's Protection From Opposing Influences
We all have them: people and institutions that threaten or challenge us—not physically—but spiritually, ideologically, morally and behaviorally. We may feel a deep need to control or set boundaries around all interactions with these folks, resulting in a sense of dread every time we even think of their presence in our, or our children’s, lives.
I believe it is best if we turn to Jesus to establish His authority in these relationships.
The setting of healthy boundaries around myself and my children in order to ward off these encroachments has been a legitimate and worthwhile—albeit often excruciating—task, one that has grasped at every fiber of God’s grace while walking the fine line of influences I will allow or disallow into every stage of my, and my kids’, lives. It was crucial that I listen for God’s ordaining stamp of approval on all limits set.
The best way I can illustrate this comes from one of the biggest challenges I faced after becoming a saved Christian fifteen years ago. As someone who has been in the mental, emotional and spiritual recovery of having relied on alcohol and New Age spirituality for 21 years, I was faced with the task of breaking the chain of alcoholism and empty religion forged and handed down by previous generations and institutions.
Under no circumstances were my husband and I going to pass the baton of drinking and secular humanist religious dogma onto our children via the influence of those same people and institutions that had taught and endorsed it to us. And so after becoming Christians, we carefully orchestrated, as much as possible, our family’s exposure to that influence which was so disabling in my and my husband’s lives.
Now, fifteen years into not only my sobriety but my being born again in Christ, and my two sons now adults and married, I have been sitting with God to take stock of where we are on this boundary setting. And God, in His tender mercy, is gently taking me to that next phase of sanctification in which, although He continues to give total peace regarding the past fulfillment of being gatekeeper and leader (along with my husband) of our household, there is now a bend in the stream He is calling me to navigate.
At this juncture, as in the past, I am to rely on God and prayer; the difference being that prayer will now take more and more the place of my doing the physical and mental work of setting personal and family boundaries.
Prayer alone is increasingly taking the place of God’s past call to be a physical protector of my family. In the past, I was in obedience to God in managing the negative influences. Now, I am being called to obedience to a diminished role in that capacity, trusting that God will guard the spiritual and emotional gains made by past obedience.
In essence, it’s a hand-off: God has said “well done” to the raising of my children and the establishing of my marriage and household within the confines of what He set for us through His guidance, and now He is saying that, while the old influences still hold potential for damage, He will take it from here. And that goes not only for my adult sons, but for my husband and me as well, and the life we have established these last 15 years in the Lord.
I realize that this, in a way, is God’s confirmation that my family and I have matured. We can stand in the face of situations and people we might not have before. And so as we have grown stronger, God is shifting my call.
This is both a challenge and a relief: a challenge because I fully admit I am afraid of people and ideologies that would hijack everything I believe in, have prayed for and watched God build on His foundation.
On the other hand, the balancing act of being in the world of extended family and social and religious institutions that are at odds with a Christian trajectory, but not of that world, has been exhausting. And even though it has tested my faith and revealed my shortcomings in grace, I have nothing but gratitude to God for His continual presence, comfort, assurance, guidance and forgiveness through the entire process.
Whatever our nemeses, whatever threatens to dictate how we think or live, and in spite of the pressures we face when it comes to choosing faith and the Christian formation of our own person, family and marriage over well-meaning but often lost institutions, friends and extended family, our obedience is always to God’s call for our ourselves, our marriages and our immediate families.
Our duty is always to get our own house in order. And that almost always involves instituting new perimeters, unapologetically but gracefully. And after we are faithful in that endeavor, we are sure to notice the nudge of God to next steps.
When I look back at every obstacle, threat and hindrance that has attempted to derail my and my family from the sanctifying work of Christ, I see God there supporting, protecting and equipping us to keep our minds and hearts on Him.
And so I pray, imploring God to provide a right spirit in order that I might be obedient to His fulfilling of this new call to let go of the past call, trusting Him implicitly that He’s got this. Just like in the past. Just like in the future. Just like always. God’s got this.
copyright Barb Harwood
"He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us," 2 Corinthians 1:10
“Then King David went in and sat before the LORD, and he said: ‘Who am I, Sovereign LORD, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far?” 2 Samuel 7:18
(see also 1 Chronicles 17:16).
“They confronted me in the day of my disaster, but the LORD was my support. He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me...
For I have kept the ways of the LORD; I am not guilty of turning from my God.” Psalm 18:18-19, 21