Feeding my spirit

God’s word lives in your hearts, and you have won your battle with the evil one. (1 John 2:14, NLT)holy spirit Baptims-by-spirit

It was the first day of Lent. I walked into my kitchen and glanced out the window at the snow-covered field that spreads from the back of our house, expecting to see a serene vista of white. What was that? I looked closer – it was a coyote eating a fresh deer kill.

On no!! We have lots of deer in our neighborhood – “my deer family” – and one of them had been hunted and killed.

It didn’t help to remind myself that it’s part of the cycle of life (the coyotes have to eat too). Being greeted first thing in the morning by this sight was disturbing! Why am I starting Lent with this image seared into my brain?

I went to get ashes, and as I sat in the pew thinking about my morning, the verse from 1 Peter came to mind: “Be sober, be vigilant, because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” (1 Peter 5:8)

That sure seems to fit – which makes me feel about as excited for Lent as someone waiting to get a root canal. Is that what my Lent is going to be like Lord? Forty days of hyper-vigilance? Do I need to prepare for a spiritual “ambush” every time I drive to the grocery store? Will I feel threatened, see plans go awry, be overwhelmed by defeating thoughts, get in conflict with my husband, “find” new ways to worry about my children?

I used to think of spiritual attack as some sort of test, that each spiritual challenge was God’s way of “allowing” me to become a better Christian, a better Catholic. And if I failed I would hear this voice in my head “If you were just nicer to your husband, if you prayed more, if you went to confession more … THEN these attacks wouldn’t happen – you wouldn’t be tested and life would go much more smoothly.”

God wasn’t saying that – I was.

As soon as I got home on Ash Wednesday, I went to my Bible and read all of 1 Peter chapter 5.

“But after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called us to His eternal glory through Christ Jesus, will restore, support, strengthen, and establish you.” (1 Peter 5:10)

God promises to restore, support, strengthen and establish me. And I thought about a program I happened to watch just a few days before … a minister who talked about the Lord showing him a 9-foot angel, 6 feet wide, huge breastplate and sword, who looked massive, intimidating and regal – the minister asked the Lord if that was one of His archangels. No, the Lord told him, that’s you in the spiritual realm!

His insight spoke to me. I want to face every spiritual challenge with a picture of my spirit being massive, intimidating and regal, confident in victory. That’s the life Jesus promises us – that we will reign on earth (Rev. 5:10).

So I have grabbed hold of the idea of “feeding” my spirit this Lent so it can be as healthy and powerful and massive as possible.

That turns the table on the devil. Instead of feeling on the defense, I am going on the offense. I am making sure I keep this mental picture in my head of a spirit mighty and regal in appearance. I want the devil to see me that way – and I want to see myself that way!

Lent is becoming an opportunity – the Lord is teaching me how to be on the offense, how to “walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4) that Jesus’ resurrection gives us. He created me to be an overcomer. I want to feed my spirit in such a way that it becomes even bigger and stronger. It’s silly for me to think the Holy Spirit in me is the same size as my body – the Holy Spirit in each of us can certainly expand beyond our physical size – it’s of the spiritual realm, not the natural realm.

It’s not an accident that the Lord has given me this insight for Lent – when I am already fasting. What better time for the Lord to encourage me to fill up with spiritual juice!

As I partner with the Lord’s plan to teach and strengthen me, things just seem to be falling into place.

I’ve been participating in a “negativity fast, positivity feast” program online (Igniting Hope Ministries) that encourages me to declare the Lord’s goodness in all areas of my life – these declarations are based on scripture, so I know they are feeding me and I am partnering with God’s plan to live on “every word that proceeds out of (His) mouth.” (Matthew 4:4). I am becoming like the strong young men John is writing to: the word of God lives in their hearts and they have defeated the evil one. (1 John 2:14)

I’ve been reading an excellent book, “From Ash to Water – Meditations on Lent” by Fr. Luis Granados.

And just so I am reinforced even more, I’ve found a photo of a woman dressed in spiritual armor, looking powerful and intimidating, so I’ve put it on my cell phone.

Yes, I’ve already had a couple battles where I’ve had to fight to maintain the image of myself as a powerful, regal warrior – but this is the training the Lord is guiding me through, and it has just reinforced my resolve that I am on the right path.

Now, when I look toward the snow-covered field below my house, the memory of a coyote devouring the deer reminds me that my “old man” is dead and I am a NEW creation in Christ with all the promises that come with His resurrection. The word of God feeds my spirit. The Eucharist feeds my spirit. Spiritual mentors feed my spirit. I am powerful in the spiritual realm!

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for showing me how to take a disturbing image and turn it over to You … and then You transform it! I choose to give you other images and memories from my past, and look forward to how you will lead me to ways that feed my spirit – through books I read, through encounters with other people, through the Eucharist, through my prayer time with You, through scripture, and through ways You are waiting for me to discover. You delight in me, and Your goodness and mercy overwhelm me! In Jesus name I pray, Amen.