“Get thee behind me, Satan.”
It’s said that when we lean even more into the Lord, evil wants us to doubt.
That was two weeks ago.
About five weeks ago, God lead me to join a new church. It had been over a year since I walked inside any house of the Lord. With consistency, that is. Over the summer, I went to one church because of an recommendation and while I liked it, it didn’t strike me as a place that I would return. While there is no such thing as the perfect church, there is a such thing as the right church that you need for this season in your life. I needed guidance, elders. I needed wisdom. I needed a church that believed strongly in the power of prayer. I needed a church full of the love that I missed. I needed something close.
I found that. When I walked into my new home over a month ago, I just knew. This was where I needed to be.
As I went through the process of joining, I really felt this push to solidify how I would serve in the body of Christ. I was told by others that I possessed the gift of exhortation, which, to be selfish, is not what I wanted. I, unfortunately, pride myself in being someone that knows a lot about a lot of things (but yet, I hate to be known as a know-it-all). So I selfishly hoped that knowledge and wisdom would be my gifts. But to encourage others? I can barely encourage my damn self.
But I found myself in spaces doing just that. I felt this need to always emphasize to remember what we do: serve. I felt this need to tell others that they had purpose. That they mattered. It wasn’t about knowing everything; it was about knowing what to say in the moment when ears were open.
So as I declared that inwardly and asked for wisdom and guidance from others, the Devil went into overdrive.
I had the week from Hell. I legit felt attacked.
Work ripped me to shreds. The week before, I started working out to lose some weight and destress. I worked out five days that week. During the week from Hell, I worked out once. I felt it. I came down with a cold. I got hit with the illest case of depression. That Friday, I sat in my office, bawling my eyes out. It felt like all of the progress I made disappeared.
Then I got called to do some work.
A mentor of mine asked for me to write a piece about the birth of Jesus. Because, like, Christmas is around the corner. In preparation, God told me to read how the Gospels recorded the birth of Jesus. That didn’t feel like it was enough. I didn’t get a read. So God pushed me to go read the story of Jesus. I needed the full picture. So I, of course, started with Matthew.
Matthew hit me weeks prior.
Work environments are petri dishes for conflict and every day, I felt like I was knee deep in it. One day in particular dropped me. I never felt my chest to be so hot, I never felt so inclined to cower in a corner. But then I listened to a sermon — from another church — about Matthew 18:15 called “Let’s Talk About It”.
Although I knew that laid in the context of the church, it applied here. I hate conflict. Like, I get sick at the thought of confronting people. But in this case, when I knew my soul sat bothered, I had to say something to this person. Especially since I knew I came in love.
The conflict was resolved. Matthew 18 became of my marching orders from that day on.
Then another sermon reminded about what it means to have faith. Matthew 14:31.
Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” (NIV). Leave where you are and come to God.
So I decided to come to God and declare that will listen and follow through with what I’ve been called to do.
And then everything around me went haywire. Because when you declare that you’re with God, evil wants you to doubt. Evil wants to say “nevermind.” Because evil claims victory when you to *think* that you made a mistake and condemn yourself. Once that seed of doubt is planted, it feels like a wrap.
I felt the roots growing. And I hated it. Hated its guts.
So when I was tasked by God to read Matthew for this project, I had no idea that it would come into my life this week to reaffirm, reset and rest in God.
It was right on time.
Matthew 4:1–11 reminded me to live in God’s word and serve Him. The sermon on the mount gave me the instruction I needed for this season. To pray and forgive. To ask, seek, knock. To take the right path, not the easiest. To be genuine in the practice of my faith. To never want or worry for material things. To trust God. To remember to not do things to be liked because “if you only love those that love you, what reward will you get?” (5:46). To not judge.
All words that I needed to hear. Because every environment I walked into this past week tested me on all those fronts. But I needed to be reminding of who I am and who I should be toward others.
And as I waxed over dinner with my mentor about the troubles of the past few weeks, he reminded me that when I’m being attacked, I should always declare “to get thee behind me, Satan.” Matthew 16:23.
And as I sat in church this morning, this church that God led me to because I needed a home and a place to serve, service that I declared to follow and evil wanted me to doubt, our pastor preached from Matthew 12:8–14.
… “for he was completely restored.” (NIV)
And as I finished the book of Matthew this afternoon, I found rest in Matthew 28:20.
“…to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (NIV).
The rest of my marching orders were given. And received.