Posts Tagged ‘new level new devil


new level, new devil.

One of my favorite preachers says “new level, new devil;” and I suppose that is where I am finding myself right now. Like when you start a new level in a video game and you haven’t figured out all of the traps and tricks yet, and you are getting your tail kicked, and burning through all of your lives in 5 minutes. You know you can figure it out eventually, but it’s a harder level, and at first you are yelling at the screen saying “dude, no fair, there is no way I can beat this level.” But we know what happens. You eventually get it, and you beat it. Sometimes after 100 tries. You have new moves, new skills, and new weapons – which is good, because you will need them more than ever on the next level. Because there is always a next level. And it is always more challenging than the one before. Until the game is completely over.

I know as worship leaders we shouldn’t be surprised when we are attacked, especially on the day of or hours before we lead. You would think I know the drill by now, and I do, but the game has changed a bit and I am in need of a new drill.

Usually the drill is this: the day I am leading, usually a few hours before, I start to feel a certain weight. It’s actually a physical feeling, and at times I can feel it pressing in pretty heavily. And then little things here and there happen that seem to challenge my reactions and emotions. I do my best to stay focused, remind myself my battle is not with flesh and blood (people) but with the enemy, and I just keep moving forward, keeping my mouth shut, only opening it in prayer or to rebuke the enemy when it gets really heavy. I stay fairly quiet during those hours except for those 2 things if at all possible.

And then I get on stage and about halfway through the set I can feel it break off. The heaviness leaves and the enemy gives up. I go home breathing a lot easier and completely peaceful, and a little tired. That’s one level I’ve been playing over and over again, because I feel pretty confident there. But I guess I accidentally cracked some code or moved up some elevator, because I am on a new floor, and I am getting my tail kicked. I am disoriented and losing my weapons, much less learning how to use new ones.

I don’t think it’s any accident that the armor of God is depicted as just that – armor. There are chinks in armor. And I am figuring out that’s why it says in Ephesians that even after you have it all on, after you’ve done everything else, you still have to stand. Almost as if suiting up doesn’t always mean you won’t escape unscathed. Because of those darn chinks.

Lately the weight has been accompanied by personalized arrows aimed directly at those chinks. The enemy knows our weaknesses, and everyone’s chinks are in different places. And honestly, they don’t even feel like arrows. They feel like bullets from a machine gun. They are extreme and they hurt, attacking everything from small worries to huge things, going so far as to question my place in my calling, or in ministry. They incite tears and sometimes panic. Again, this is not coming from flesh and blood, but straight from the enemy. And I also know that I have control over how much I let those things hurt me or worry me. But I haven’t figured out that trick on this level yet. Because the weapons are new. The bullets are different. New level, new devil.

Recently, it was so heavy that for the first time, sitting in the service during the message waiting to go up for the last 2 songs, I thought, “this is too hard. no fair. there is no way I can withstand this.” I’ve never thought that before, and have never been tempted to meditate on it – which I didn’t, I at least figured out that feeling the pressure of that thought was okay, but meditating on it was not. It was no accident that about that time in the sermon, our pastor started to speak scripture directly related to the power of the Holy Spirit, and the counter advances of the enemy.

When he started to speak those verses out loud, I felt a shift inside my Spirit. I knew there was about to be a victory in the room, and went up to do the last songs. And the very moment I sang the first line of the song I was leading, it broke instantly. And the enemy ran. And the power of God was so strong in that room, the enemy knew he didn’t stand a chance. It had nothing to do with me or some awesome song. God needed to do something *through* that song in many different hearts. The spiritual multiplication of what would happen during that song was too big of a number apparently and the enemy was not happy.

So I had the “a-ha” moment. That moment where you go, “oh, that’s why I was attacked all day.” It has nothing to do with me being important or good at leading, and everything to do with me being an open vessel for God to work through. Because honestly, I just open my mouth and put my hands in place on the guitar and assume the stance, and God really does everything else. I wish I could describe what it feels like.

I thought that was a level that I had completed. Nope.

Today was more of the same, if not at a higher velocity and pressure. I am still not good at this level, so I am still letting the bullets rip too deep. I’m human, so I’m learning. But man, these things are firing so fast.

The other thing I’m learning is that more often than not, as the leader I am the only one that is absorbing the weight of the attack. Not because I’m some strong awesome person, but because God has called me and appointed me to do this, and it comes with a price. And most of the time as leaders we have to absorb 90% of the attack because the rest of the group doesn’t have the same grace that we do. And you don’t have to be the leader in charge to feel it – maybe you are leading a certain song that night that the enemy does not want sung. Or maybe you are about to have a conversation with someone that God will use to change a life. It’ll happen. And you will have a grace and strength on you that the others won’t have at that moment. But they will have their moments too.

At least today I figured out that I was in fact on the same level, so I had a little more of a heads up that tonight was going to be amazing. And it was.

We tried “Beautiful Things” in its entirety tonight, and I’m not even sure what happened. I didn’t even sound like myself, my voice was different. The band sounded different, better than ever – powerful yet very delicate at rare moments that we didn’t even rehearse. About halfway through the song, God started unlocking hearts in the room. One by one. I could feel it. And all of a sudden it was worth it. And all of a sudden I realized the difference between today and last Wednesday – the thought of ”I can’t handle this anymore” never entered my mind. Not once.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m still bleeding and weary from this day. I haven’t figured out the recovery process yet on this level. It’s a bit messy and lonely. Doing what I know to do, staying close to the Word and close to people, doing the next right thing, putting one foot in front of the other. Watching an episode of Parks and Rec and laughing just like normal. And maybe going to bed early.

I don’t know how long I’ll be on this level and I don’t want to fence myself in with my own words in that regard. This is all I know: I’m not the strong one, God is. I accept my weakness in order to receive His strength. I am not enduring this to receive blessings, because truth be told, they don’t always show up soon – I’m enduring this because I love Jesus, and it’s the very least I can do compared to what He endured for me. And no matter how much those bullets hurt, no matter how long it takes for me to learn the discipline of not letting them touch my skin, it is always, ALWAYS worth it. Until the game is completely over.

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