Tearing Down Strongholds In the Storm

What do you do when God begins to go a bit deeper inside your heart? When He begins to uproot and bring to the surface all the ugly bits you’ve tried for 15 years to shove down and avoid?

My my my.

For the last 5 months I have been on the most incredibly loving journey with Jesus through my first semester of Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry. He has walked me through unique situation after unique situation; graced me with passion for the process and overwhelmed me with radical encounters and supernatural favor. Then, near the end of December things began to shift. All the “heart surgery” I had been going through felt like nothing less than a joy up until that point. So what was this I was beginning to feel? Where had the joyful expectation gone? Why was my heart feeling heavy and a holy hush coming over me?

For the first nine days of January I kept hearing…literally everywhere…”Jesus is with you in the storm.” I heard every storm analogy known to man. This mantra was following me. It was in every song, every sermon, every bumper sticker, Facebook post, overheard conversation, and off-handed comment. It was as if I couldn’t escape it.

Too scared to acknowledge it, I kept avoiding it. Wrongly assuming that if I even acknowledged what I was hearing I would somehow usher the storm into my life. What I didn’t understand was that God was gently preparing my spirit for what was coming and telling me, ever so confidently, that He would be with me in the midst of the next season of heart surgery He had in store. My mind hardly wanted to focus on the fact that the God of the universe would be with me. All it cared about was that I was about to enter a frikkin’ storm…and oh, how badly I did not want to experience that.

Why, God? What does a “storm” even mean? It’s never a good thing, right? Life up until January literally felt like it couldn’t get any better. I have never been more happy, more at peace, more content, more hopeful, more anticipatory, more perfectly fulfilled than I was as 2017 came to a close and I was in no hurry to give that up.

But nearly the second I humbled myself and acknowledged the ominous storm warning did the clouds form, the winds swirl and the fallout begin. Yet, now that I am nestled perfectly in the midst, I realized I got it all wrong.

The “storm” the Lord has brought me into is actually a season of destroying strongholds. Strongholds are areas where we have built up a belief system so strong that it is almost impossible to believe / act differently. For many years I had worked to tear down different strongholds that I was aware of, but I knew somewhere deep down there was a set of strongholds that I felt were entirely too large to do anything about. I recognized they were there in theory but I lived in daily denial most of the time and whenever they appeared I quickly shoved them back down and found a way to force my spirit to coexist with them. Let’s laugh at that. 😉

It’s actually easier to surrender your actions than your beliefs, but it is our beliefs that God actually calls us to surrender.” – Steve and Wendy Backlund

I’ve found myself unnecessarily surrendering people, things, desires, dreams, and other actions in an effort to satiate my religious thought pattern of self-sacrifice but all the while holding fast to strongholds that were the actual things killing me. Sometimes it looks really “holy” to surrender things/people but if your beliefs don’t change, those sacrifices are nothing but ritual and do more damage than good. I see this now.

My deepest strongholds only appeared when I found myself in romantic relationships because that’s where the deeply personal stuff hides. Who knows you better than the person who has gotten the most intimate with you, yeah? It’s funny how much we learn about ourselves in that realm, and how much of what we learn is often the negative parts of ourselves; the parts we avoid and successfully hide from the rest of the world. There’s no hiding when you’re in love! In each relationship I would see that I had huge strongholds of insecurity, fear, rejection, foreboding, judgment, and self hatred.

I saw that my mind would default to negative thoughts about the relationship’s future far more than it would positive. It was entirely too easy to assume the worst, expect disappointment, pick myself apart, boss around my partner, try to control or reject them first in an attempt to self protect. I would get close but never too close for the person to actually hurt me, and yet still, somehow they would hurt me. My brain would search for proof day-in and day-out of my partner being out to get me, convincing me it was only a matter of time until they chose someone else or exited my life for any number of the reasons that were wrong with me. Let’s just laugh at that.

Not long ago the Lord came to me and said, “My Darling, it’s time to destroy these strongholds, because if left, they will destroy you and the future I so desire for you.” At first I felt peace that He was going to walk me through this process that I’ve avoided as long as possible. But it didn’t take long for the enemy to weasel his way in and convince me that the task ahead was going to be long, ominous, and overwhelming. That I would be deconstructing lies for so long that I’d never find my way to the surface. My enemy knows that the area of love and romance has been my greatest struggle and the place of greatest pain in my life. There is nothing I want less than to go toe-to-toe with this Goliath and take the risk of getting my hopes up only to be let down again when I end up with the same results; broken relationships and even worse beliefs. How can things be different that have been consistently wrong for years and years??

Can God really fix this?

I had all but made peace with the reality that my bad beliefs about love and relationships were simply going to be the thorn in my side that I learned to live with all my life. That’s how deep and powerful they have been! BUT GOD. God is our cheat code. He literally is our Deliverer. He has reminded me that HE is the Gardener and JESUS is the vine. I am nothing more than a branch shooting off from the Vine of Christ and a branch can do nothing by itself. It cannot water itself, tend itself, prune itself, protect itself, fertilize itself, or cause the sun to shine upon it. It simply is. It simply abides. The Vine provides its nourishment and home and the Gardner tends to its every need, ensuring that it grows to its fullest potential bearing the ripe fruit that brings its Master pleasure.

So yes, God can fix me. In fact, He’s the only One that can. Not only that, it’s literally His job. He promises that, “…He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6). 

At first I began to think to myself, “Ok, God. What’s the plan? What do I do to tear down these strongholds?” Taking the yoke of this burden on my shoulders, wherein the enemy began to intimidate me down as I realized how incredibly heavy that burden would be. Instead, Jesus said, “How about you put that burden on My shoulders and take Mine instead?” Leading me to Psalm 91 where He says,

“He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High, shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress; my God, in Him I will trust.” – Psalm 91:1

While I’ve made it my mission to switch the channel in my mind and change the death-filled words I’ve often spoken over my romantic life into life-filled declarations of hope, the big job is still HIS. My old controlling nature has to take a back seat and watch my Deliverer work the miracles within me that no amount of therapy or self-improvement could ever do. He truly wants to show me just how good of a Gardner He actually is.

His yoke / my job is this: “One thing I have desired of the Lord, that will I seek: That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in His temple. For in the time of trouble He shall hide me in His pavilion; in the secret place of His tabernacle He shall hide me; He shall set me high upon a rock.” – Psalm 27:4-5. 

Are there areas in your life that you know are under the influence of a lie or lies? Are you aware of any strongholds in your thinking that feel inescapable or impossible to overcome? I believe there is a grace right now to bring them to God and watch Him work a miracle in our lives.

“Any area of your life that doesn’t glisten with hope is under the influence of a lie.” Where are you hopeless? Where are you defeated? I would encourage you to join me on this journey. Steve Backlund says this, “Unless you change the spirit of your mind, you’ll always end up where you’ve always been. You will subconsciously sabotage yourself to achieve only what you think you’re worth.” 

He also says, “The highest form of spiritual warfare is the decision to think higher than your feelings and experiences.” Decide to come up higher with me!

The great news is, if you walk with Jesus it is NOT your job to tackle these strongholds in your own strength. We have the greatest cheat code in all of the universe and His name is Jesus. He can and will Deliver us from our bad beliefs when we come to a place of true surrender and trust. The answer is not doing more, it is resting more. It is getting alone with Him and seeking His face. Declare truth over yourself, make the intentional decision to laugh at lies and laugh at your past, but at the end of the day, get alone with Jesus. His Presence is where miracles happen. That place is where you touch heaven and your true nature and identity consumes who you’ve always been.

He is my Shelter, my Pavilion, my Refuge through this storm and as I sit in the midst of it I am realizing that I hardly sense it taking place at all because He is just that good. So here I am Lord, resting in Your Shelter…climbing up on the operating table and trusting Your surgical precision as You deconstruct and reconstruct my beliefs about You, myself and others. I trust the process. I trust that the pain will be only momentary and the effects will last a lifetime. I fully yield. SELAH.

If you also struggle with bad beliefs in the area of your romantic life, I will list below some truth-filled statements I am believing and declaring over my life everyday. Take them for yourself! I basically took the lies that I have been believing for years and wrote the opposite. So for example, if I’ve told myself that men never fight for me I partnered with the lie that I wasn’t worth fighting for…so now I am declaring the truth that I AM WORTH FIGHTING FOR! I have little reminders that go off every hour on my phone with a new declaration to say OUT LOUD as a constant form of renewal. Say it until you believe it! THIS is spiritual warfare 🙂

If you would like to learn more about the power of the renewed mind and using daily declarations to start the process of “taking every thought captive” you should check out Steve and Wendy’s Backlund’s website Igniting Hope Ministries.

DAILY DECLARATIONS:

  • I am worth fighting for
  • I am a priority
  • I am beautiful
  • I stand out from the crowd
  • I am worthy of a unique love story
  • I don’t have to earn love or respect
  • I do hear the voice of God
  • I am capable of surrendering whatever God asks
  • I am fully loved by God
  • I am free to be perfectly myself
  • I am pure and will see God
  • I am good at relationships
  • I will be a great wife
  • I am worthy to be fully chosen by a man
  • I am able to trust men
  • God is faithful to deliver on His promises
  • People want to hear what I have to say

 

I’ll let you know how it goes!

Blessings beautiful ones.

 

-Rach

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