Before I left Melbourne it seemed like two weeks in New Zealand would be more than enough time for my first trip since returning to the southern hemisphere. This is my third trip to New Zealand, though it feels as though it’s been more than that, and I’ve come to expect things to happen quickly and intensely. The One Mission Society (OMS) NZ directors and I make some plans, leave some free space to see what happens, and God always fills it up. He does more than we expect. That’s one of those things you read in the Word but forget to live like you believe it. (Ephesians 3:20-21)
Yes, I figured that part out. On my second trip I knew. It wasn’t until this third trip, though, that I figured out something else. It’s kind of important; not the sort of thing you’d want to forget. Come to think of it I may not have forgotten. It is more accurate to say that I did not see.
Only days before temporarily trading one sort of home for another I was talking with Josie about my anxiety. I was so anxious about going to New Zealand, anxious enough to make me hesitant about coming here, anxious enough to doubt my competency. It didn’t matter that I’d fought tooth and nail for a year and a half to get my funding and return here. It didn’t matter that I am ready, confident in HOPE61’s training curriculum and the foundation that has been laid for my ministry by solid leaders like Joyce (HOPE61’s founder), who recruited me, and Tom (HOPE61’s director), who continues to encourage me. It didn’t matter that I had meetings, plans, and knew that Avalon and Owen (OMS NZ’s directors) were happy to have me come.
Amid these thoughts and much murmuring to God about the state of my mind, there was clarity – and that’s when I recognized it. That important thing you shouldn’t forget — or else fail to deal with and so be affected.
I recognized the enemy.
Satan is practically a master at using doubt in my life. Not so much the doubt of other people, because that just makes me more determined and stubborn. It’s chiefly my own doubts in myself. I believe Satan knows when I’m in an especially weak spot (I Peter 5:8-9), like when I’m about to leave for New Zealand. At those times I am excited, a bit stressed, ready to go, but always wondering if what I’ve done or plan to do is enough.
Two years ago when I’d leave for ministry trips to New Zealand I did not recognize Satan at work just beforehand. My prayers on the plane to Auckland were always tinged with desperation; I’d ask God to show up because I was confronted with my own inability and quite a bit of doubt. Now, recognizing the enemy, I am simultaneously filled with greater strength, confidence, and recognition of who is really wielding the power here. I believe that’s the Almighty God, the one Living God, the one who loves me and who I am privileged to serve.
Recognizing the enemy as he strikes or realizing where he often will seems to call for a plan of action, doesn’t it? Still pondering that, but for one thing my own prayers and the prayers I ask for just preceding a NZ trip will be more clearly directed. I know I can trust God to show up here because He has in the past, because I have faith that He will in the future. Noticing the enemy’s plans changes things for me. When the calendar approaches the next trip to New Zealand, I’ll be ready – recognizing and predicting where the enemy may move, and calling on my King and Father for reinforcements in this battleground.