I wake up with a smile at the thought of the gift of another day. All is well. All is at peace. All is perfect.
Tossing off the blankets and, slipping into a simple dress, venture out of my chambers and to the castle tower. I climb it barefoot, humming as I go, relishing the feel of the smooth, cold stone beneath.
As I climb, I dream of what today’s sunrise will look like. How will the mountains glow? What colors will there be, and how will those colors play on the mountains?
Finally, I reach the top and skip to the half-wall.
The sunrise is breathtaking. But my smile is chased off by utter despair.
An army surrounds my castle, one bigger and stronger than I could ever have imagined in the worst of my nightmares. It stretches on further than I can see, further than the mountains hundreds of miles away. The rising sun gives them a deadly red glint, and it seems even the glory of the morning has turned against me.
Billions of bloodthirsty warmachines suddenly let out a battle cry. The air is charged with hatred, loathing, the desire for my utter destruction.
I cover my ears and fall to my knees. I scream, though the sound cannot be heard: “This army is too big for me!” I am defeated. I am destroyed. I can do nothing but watch as my perfect castle, my perfect life, is annihilated.
The Vision Shifts
Like someone hit rewind, it all starts from the beginning. Again, I wake up in the castle with a singing heart and the expectation that this will be the best day of my life. Again, I get dressed and climb the tower, bubbling over with excitement for the sunrise. Again, that terrible and terrifying army awaits. Again, they thunder for my demise.
But unlike the first time, my heart is calm and remains joyful in the new day. My smiling expression does not change – except maybe for an added hint of amusement. I see the army, yes; I hear their chilling roar. An interested “Hm” escapes me. But my only reaction is to look toward heaven and state in a calm and bemused tone, “That army is too big for me.”
One might think me insane, until they see what happens next.
Fire falls from heaven and consumes the entire army in an instant. The threat is gone. I am safe.
I smile and enjoy the sunrise.
The Dreamer Awakes
This little story took shape in my mind a couple years ago as I was pondering sin and defeat, and longing for victory.
The first part of this daydream is how I felt like my life was going. Just when I thought I was safe, the enemy would come rushing in like a flood and I would fall to temptation.
I longed to know how to overcome sin, and I thought often of an excellent sermon called “Overcoming Sin” (highly recommend! It’s a favorite of mine!) which taught on the truth that victory is not primarily about what I do, it’s about what God has done! Victory for me comes when I believe – and I knew that in my head, but I didn’t know how to live it out. But at least now I knew that victory over sin was possible, and available for every Christian.
I later heard “Victory (Part 1)” by Paris Reidhead (also highly recommend this one). This is another sermon about overcoming sin. But in this one, Reidhead compares resisting temptation to a “switch” that is flipped. Reckon yourself dead indeed unto sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus (Romans 6:11).
Okay, great… so all I need to do is figure out how to flip that switch – how to grab hold of the truth of my death to sin and resurrection to newness of life in Christ Jesus, and walk in light of that truth!
But… um… how?
For me, this story became my way of flipping that switch. The army became my temptation, and when I look up, when I fix my gaze on Jesus, remember who He is, and refuse to give my attention to temptation, it’s like fire falls from heaven and consumes that temptation. Sometimes this happens in an instant, sometimes it takes a long and continuous resisting of temptation.
But victory is always possible. Our God is victorious. He is greater than any temptation we face, greater than any tempter that comes against us. He is able to keep us from falling and to present us blameless before His presence with exceeding joy (Jude 24)! A question I’ve had to wrestle with is, do I have more faith in temptation to overcome me, or in my God to enable me to overcome temptation?
When temptation comes, look up. Laugh in its face as you glory in our almighty God. Get to know Him in His Word – reassure your heart and mind of His power to save to the uttermost those who come to God by Jesus Christ (Hebrews 7:25).
When Satan tempts me to despairCharitie Lees Bancroft, “Before the Throne of God Above”
and tells me of the guilt within,
upward I look, and see Him there,
who made an end to all my sin.
Know Jesus, precious saints, and you will be made mighty (Daniel 11:32).
Looking unto Jesus,