“I will lead you back into old battlefields where you once suffered loss. I will lead you into these places to do a work of restoration and return to you what the enemy has taken. The fear of reentry will flee before us as you and I walk together into these places. My presence will consume the traps of fear that have been designed to destroy you. Prepare your heart in My presence and begin to walk forward with Me.”
Saipan was the site of major battles during World War II. Many Americans and Japanese died on the island. Remnants of the war are still visible today. Some of these remnants are only rusting relics of war. Others are hidden in the soil of Saipan in the form of land mines and unexploded ordnance that can still kill people.
My daughter, Anna, is a high school teacher on the island of Saipan, way out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. “Way out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean” are words used by a lonesome father to say his little girl is a long way from home. Recently, my daughter posted an article on her personal blog site that I copied and pasted to here to set up what I want to share:
“They have closed the north end of the island to detonate the unexploded remnants of WWII munitions. I wonder if this was inspired by a recent fire. Friends of ours live on the back of the island. When a small fire came close, they weren’t worried about it so much as the latent land mines it might ignite. Sure enough, they said it sounded like the 4th of July when the flames sent rusted elements of war exploding.”
Can you imagine living in the middle of that scenario? When a fire comes, instead of getting out the fire hose you duck for cover! Anna's comments caused me to ponder a few things.
In all of our lives there are remnants of past wars. These wars were fought in relationships and circumstances where people died emotionally and spiritually.
The weapons used in these wars may have been a hurtful word spoken in anger or a pain-inspired vow we made to never allow ourselves to be vulnerable again. The unkind word lies embedded in the heart of its victim and festers. The vow is still alive and pumps poison into its owner every time the vow is repeated.
A spiritual land mine can be left over from the pain suffered in divorce. These land mines can explode many years later, after the divorce is over, when a new relationship develops with our former marital issues still unresolved.
Maybe a parent hurts us and the emotional scar is still bleeding deep within our heart. When a broken relationship with a parent is left unhealed, situations can explode years later when we become parents ourselves. The innocent become victims to our childhood sorrows.
These unresolved and rusting implements of relational warfare are dangerous because they have not yet been dealt with. Explosions caused by this kind of unexploded ordnance can come as a surprise because we think the war was over long ago. These land mines lay hidden in the weeds of life and can be stepped on at some future date. They never go away. They live in the weeds - waiting.
When my daughter wrote about the forest fires setting off the old ordnance of World War II, I thought of one of the ways God has made himself known throughout the redemption story. God revealed himself in fire.
“The Lord guided them by a pillar of cloud during the day and a pillar of fire at night.“ Exodus 13:21
“Immediately the fire of the Lord flashed down from heaven and burned up the young bull, the wood, the stones and the dust. It even licked up all the water in the ditch! And when the people saw it they fell on their faces and cried out, “The Lord is God! The Lord is God!” I Kings 18: 38-39
“Then, what looked like flames or tongues of fire appeared and settled on each of them.” Acts 2: 3
The presence of God is the fire of heaven. God's presence, when carried by his Church, will ignite the land mines of hell that lie in our path. The land mines only have power because we allow them to remain. These things that are intended to bring death, can be exploded before we step on them if we allow God to deal with the issues in our hearts.
When followers of Jesus Christ walk in union with Him, they are surrounded by heaven's mine sweeper – the presence of God. As we follow God's presence, and yield to his will, he goes before us into those old battlefields where the land mines of unresolved and unconfessed sin and personal failure lay waiting for our unsuspecting step. God wants to explode these things before we arrive.
Isaiah 54:7 tells us that, “No weapon formed against you will prosper.” This word “prosper” in the Hebrew language has been translated to mean, “to break out” or “to push forward” or “to effect.” In other words – to explode. No weapon that has been formed by hell, using our own failure and sorrow, will be able to explode against us if we have given those things to God. Those hidden land mines formed against us will not have the ability to break out, push forward, or affect us if God is allowed to detonate them.
God's presence explodes hell's weaponry when we choose to forgive those who have waged war against us in the past. God's presence detonates hell's plan when we renounce the self-protecting vows we made when fear gripped our hearts. God's presence sets off the bombs of doubt when we choose to believe the best about people and our present circumstances and not be surprised by the worst. God's presence destroys despair when we cultivate a thankful heart and live immersed in gratefulness.
God's presence surrounds our lives with a ring of fire that is his glory, and that fire will set off the land mines of hell hidden in the weeds of our lives. Instead of stepping on death we begin walking in freedom. The distant explosions will remind us that God has gone before us and the way is now clear.