Ten-ish years ago, I was lying on the floor in my bathroom praying that I would not wake-up. I didn’t want to kill myself, but I didn’t want to live.
In my moment of grief, a fleeting and odd thought went through my head: I must be really dangerous if the devil wants me dead.
I’ve thought about that statement a few times over the last couple of years, but the truth of it did not hit me until last week: The devil, indeed, wants me dead.
It came suddenly. Unexpectedly. Ferociously.
Only days before I had been playing in the spiritual surf; laughing and splashing around with my friends. Life was good, and everything seemed to be falling into place.
Then, out of nowhere, an unseen current grabbed hold of me and took me under. As soon as it hit me, I knew I was in trouble.
Further and further down I sank. Unable to breath. Unable to escape the grasp of the darkness.
The strength of the monster gripping me was remarkable. It’s determination astounding. I knew I was no match for it. I knew I couldn’t fight it on my own. I knew I needed help.
I could see the Light flickering overhead. Beams of Truth shot through the darkness just beyond my reach. I saw people peering into the water above me. Though their words were muffled and their faces blurred, I could make out what they were saying:
“Fight, Nikol. Fight!” But how can a paralyzed person fight?
“Believe, Nikol. Believe!” But belief wasn’t budging the grip.
“I’m so sorry this is happening” But sympathy wasn’t going to save me.
And while Satan did his best to kill me; God was using it to teach me a lesson I will not soon forget.
It is ridiculous to tell a drowning person to save themselves.
It is absurd to discuss what is happening – or how they got there -while someone is fighting for their life.
It is preposterous to worry about breaking a bone when someone needs a breath!
When Peter lost his faith while walking on the water, did Jesus watch him descend into the waves while yelling, “Believe, Peter! Believe?” Of course not! He reached out and saved him (Matthew 14:28-31).
When Jairus’ daughter was dead, did Jesus require her to believe? Don’t be ridiculous. A dead person can’t believe. But a fighting father can; and after throwing out the mourners and the doubters, Jesus grabbed her hand and restored her to life – not because of her faith – but because of his (Matthew 5:35-43).
And that is what it took to save me (this time around).
It took someone taking a stand and saying, “No! You cannot have her. She belongs to Jesus!” They couldn’t yell it from the shore where it was safe. They had to be in the water with me. They had to get up the courage to say, “I’m going in after her. I’ve seen enough.” They had to reach out and grab my hand.
Ultimately, it was Jesus who saved me. Ultimately it was His Name who made the darkness flee, but I often forget the order of things this side of Heaven: God uses people to accomplish His work. Jesus living inside of us motivates us to intervene on His behalf. Sometimes, often times, intervening requires prayer. But sometimes intervening requires action. Listen to James’ words:
What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone? Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, and you say, “Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well”—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do? So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless (James 2:14-17).
The purpose of our faith isn’t for us; it is for others. The battle wasn’t really about me. Satan thought it was. The battle was about us. The battle was to show me that we are all in this together, and sometimes that means we have to fight for someone who can’t. We can’t fight by standing at a distance. We fight by getting in the game. And we cannot back down.
We cannot back down because the next time it could be us that needs saving. We cannot back down because that death – someone’s spiritual death – is the only death that can harm us.
I’m not sure what the future holds, but I am grateful today for the Light. I’m grateful for the warriors – bloodied and battered – who love me enough to fight for me. I’m grateful for the prayers that motivated someone to action. And I am grateful for the warriors who reminded me (once I safe), that I cannot quit. I have to see this through. Even when it doesn’t make sense.