In a dream, I walked around a bend in a road, and came upon dozens of . . . me. A demon, looking like the spawn of a lizard and an eggplant, was constructing version after version of me, each based on a lie. He rushed to set them along my path like road signs, every hundred yards or so. As I passed by, each spoke in my voice what the demon had programmed:

“You’re a failure.”

“You’re all alone.”

“You’re going to get cancer again, and this time you’re going to die.”

Even though I knew they were lies, after a few miles, I started listening to them. Even if I didn’t believe them fully, they began to wear me down until I was out of strength. I stopped near one that kept repeating, “You’ll never be good enough to be a real writer.” Over and over it spoke, until I found myself agreeing with it.

“What’s in your hand?” The new voice startled me, but I recognized it. Recognized him. I looked down. In my hand was a sword. It was the one my son had given me during chemo, a replica from the 2010 Robin Hood film. On the hilt was inscribed, “Rise and Rise Again, Until Lambs Become Lions.” I tightened my hand around the words.

“Use it.” Before I could ask how, he said, “Listen.” I knew he meant to focus on what the Holy Spirit had been saying to my heart the whole time I’d been listening to “myself.”

“I can do all things through Christ, who gives me strength.” More than words, more than a Bible verse, the truth of it renewed my soul, and strengthened my arm. The sword rang in my hand.

Ignoring the irony of beating myself up, I repeated the words out loud, and swung at the image. It shattered like glass. I wondered if this was what Jesus did when the devil tempted him in the wilderness. He broke the enemy by living in his true identity, and by submitting himself to his Father. With every step forward, I felt increasing surges of strength and confidence. I listened for the counter to each lie, and destroyed every false version of myself, every idol I’d let the enemy make out of my fear, self-pity, and bitterness:

“I’ll never lose hope, as long I believe I can experience God’s goodness, here and now. I will wrap myself in his presence, and I’ll have all the strength and courage I need” (Psalm 27:13-14).

“The enemy attacked when I was wounded and weak, but the Lord supported me. He led me to a place of complete safety. He rescued me, because he delights in me” (Psalm 18:18-19).

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened down, and I will give you real rest” (Matthew 11:28).

You are created in God’s image, in awe and wonder (Genesis 1:26, Psalm 139:14). Don’t let a lie twist you into accepting a lesser identity, even if you’re the one who’s been spouting that garbage. You are who God says you are. So rise. And if you fall, rise again. Your every agreement with what he’s speaking over your life is transforming you into the lion he’s created you to be.

“For the word of God is alive and powerful, sharper than any two-edged sword. It penetrates to the very core of our being, where body, soul, and spirit are joined. It interprets and reveals the true thoughts and secret motives of our hearts” (Hebrews 4:12, paraphrase).

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