Recently, when I was talking with God about things, He pointed out something in Revelation 12:10-11 that I’d never seen before. It says:
For the accuser of our brothers and sisters…
has been hurled down.
They [the people of God] triumphed over him
by the blood of the Lamb [Jesus]
and by the word of their testimony;
I suddenly realized that this passage depicts a war of testimonies in what you might say is the court battle of the ages. The accuser – our enemy the devil – testifies against us, the people of God. But we, the people of God, triumph. Note that this is an announcement by a loud voice in heaven making a declaration about something that has already passed in the story that Revelations is telling but is present and future for us in our timeline right now.
How do the people of God triumph against our accuser? We defeat his testimony, not by having a good defense and not because his accusations are false. No, we defeat his testimony by giving testimony of our own – testimony about what Jesus has done for us!
What does this actually look like in our lives?
It often starts with the devil saying, “Look what you’ve done. You should be ashamed.” Sometimes that accusation comes through people, but often it’s just a nasty whisper in our mind.
Those accusations can dig some really deep roots, can’t they? They affect how we think, how we act, our relationships, and often how we respond to God. We usually don’t even know just how deep those roots are or how much they’re affecting.
So perhaps it’s not surprising that when I look back over the years of God’s work in my life, I see that God’s process for setting me free usually starts with digging up those bad roots.
The thing is, we’re often not aware that that’s what He’s doing when we’re in the middle of it. We just know that life isn’t going well. We forget that all the best stories start off with things not going well.
My stories – my testimonies of what God’s done in my life – all start with bad situations.
God wanted me to understand what Jesus was talking about when He said in John 17 that He is in me and I am in Him. So 20+ years ago, He let me reach a point where I was unhappy with just about everything in my life, but mostly with myself. To say that I didn’t like who I was is putting it mildly. But I cried out to God, over and over again, because I believed that He had the answer. Well… one day I was a klutz (again) and dropped a glass. I stood there amongst the shattered bits… and God spoke right there in my kitchen. And my life changed. That’s one of my stories.
15 years ago, we were trying to sell our house in Florida, and God allowed it to lose over $100k of value as the real estate market crashed. Our plans to buy a house debt free went up in smoke that year, and it was rough. But God wanted to set me free from my biggest fear, and His plan to do that continued uninterrupted. It took years because that fear had some really deep roots, but He did it. He set me free. And then last year, in the middle of a pandemic when both of us were experiencing a reduction in income, God spoke… and our house was paid off. Our dream of owning our own without a mortgage came true. That’s another story.
7 years ago, I hit black ice, totaling my car in a slow-motion car accident that allowed me to experience PTSD. But God wanted to set me free from my self-sufficiency. I cried out to Him and waited on Him and began learning desperately-needed lessons about relying on Him for everything. And then one day He spoke, and again my life was transformed. That’s another story.
These last two years have been the most amazing years of my life as far as my walk with God goes… and it started with a worldwide pandemic shutdown and two emotionally difficult months where I cried a lot and slept a lot and felt very lost most of the time. Ever been there? But I knew where to turn, and over those two months, I cried out to Him over and over again, and finally He spoke, and then He spoke again, and again, and He keeps speaking as I continue seeking Him, and my life keeps changing in another ongoing story.
Every difficult period of my life has led to life-changing revelations.
He does the work.
I do the trusting and the seeking to know Him and the waiting on Him and the worshiping Him.
How many of you also have stories that started in darkness and trouble, but God set you free?
You know, sometimes we’re in multiple stories at once. Right now, even though many things in my walk with God are amazing, I’m struggling in one area of my life. But now I’m able to recognize it for what it is — God is digging up bad roots, and when He does that, it means it’s the dark part of another story. It means He’s doing something that’s amazing.
So when the tears well up and the devil tries to make me think it’s hopeless, I think of all my stories, and I say, “No it’s not hopeless. This is another story in the making. This is another story that I’ll look back on someday and be amazed at what God has done! Because that’s what He does, and neither circumstances nor my mistakes nor the failures of those around me have the power to change His character and His faithfulness and His ability and desire and promises to work in my life. He will do it because I’ve given my life to Him.”
Is anyone else also in the middle of a story?
Do you know that we can praise Him and rejoice for the end of the story, even when it hasn’t happened yet? We can! Even though we don’t know how it’ll happen!
Those are the best movies and books, right? The stories where, at the darkest moment, when the world in the story is falling apart, you have no idea how things are going to work out and how the story will end because the story’s author is that good. But even though you don’t know how they’re going to get out of the terrible situation, you’re excited anyway because you trust that the author or movie-writer wrote a good ending.
Do you trust the Author of your story to write a good ending?
Jesus is the author of our story and the perfecter of our faith according to Hebrews 12. He paid for our past mistakes. He redeems what others have done to us.
That’s what He does.
Isaiah 43:18-19 is one of my favorite passages in the Bible, for God says to His people:
“Forget the former things
And do not dwell on the past.
Look, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; don’t you see it?
I will even make a roadway in the wilderness [where it looks like there is no way],
And rivers in the desert [where it feels dry and barren].”
Our enemy – the Accuser – likes to say to us, “Look what you’ve done.” We triumph by saying, “Nope, God says not to dwell on the past! He’s doing something new!” And we turn our eyes to our God and Savior, and we praise Him, saying, “Look what You’ve done!”
Look What You’ve Done