Summary: Even Jesus was not free from conflict and opposition in His ministry and unfortunately nor are we, yet He calls us to love our enemies.
MR WEAVER FISH
On a mission trip to Kosova this summer I had a very nasty encounter with a weaver fish. This innocent looking fish lurks in the sand craftily leaving just its dark dorsal fins showing and anyone unlucky enough to step on one can be in serious trouble. The spines stick into the flesh and a painful swelling process begins inflicting intense pain. In fact the most excruciating pain is all you know about your encounter with this spiny little brute. The weaver fish is to be avoided at all costs I can assure you, but it is so difficult to spot as they bury themselves into the sand leaving only their poisonous spines protruding. The after effects are most unpleasant believe you me! I will spare you the details of the gruesome effects on the digestive system but suffice to say the pain was unbelievable.
Now considering we were about God’s business, helping to repair a poor Kosavan widow’s home, it seemed a very spiteful attack by this evil creature ~ undercover, underfoot and very underhand. Yet in spite of the all nasty symptoms I strangely considered myself worthy to suffer for the Name just like the early disciples!
2. Help ~ I’ am Under Attack!
This attack is typical of the opposition, trouble and in your face conflict that we all have to face. Even Jesus was not free from conflict in His ministry and unfortunately nor are we. Who hasn’t found themselves being attacked suddenly, very underhandedly without warning often from someone who has just been waiting for an opportunity to strike out at us, or perhaps worse still a vicious anonymous attack?
Well after Mr Weaver fish had done his worse I needed a friend to take a look, pull out the venomous spine and administer medication. I also needed rehydration to combat the after affects, feeling so ill and not able to keep any food down. It’s no different when some nasty underhand conflict or trouble has launched a surprise attack on you attempting to bring you to your knees and destroy you. We need friends to help us up, to pray and keep us covered from the missiles the enemy of our souls is firing at us. In addition to putting and keeping the full armour of God on as described in Ephesians Chapter 6 we need to keep feeding on the Word of God and His promise that He will rescue us from every evil attack and bring us home safely to His heavenly kingdom (see 2 Timothy 4:18 ~ the very verse the Lord put on Julie’s heart to pray for me, completely unaware of the circumstances at the time).
3. A Life Full of Conflict and Trouble
Childhood throughout Adulthood
All my life I have encountered conflict, troubles and opposition. Even from my early childhood with a brutal father who never showed me any love and who in fact seemed to be hell bent on physically abusing me for no reason. Through out my various careers I have been on the receiving end of professional jealously and sheer hatred has all too often reared it’s ugly head ~ just like that nasty fish. Yet God has been there in the darkest of times; a beloved aunt who took me into her home and looked after me, protecting me from my father’s brutality. Colleagues and dear and precious friends have helped and continued to believe in me when I have been treated unfairly, falsely accused or sadly misunderstood.
One experience always reminds me of the need for forgiveness and courage when faced with trouble and conflict. When carrying out a military operation in Northern Ireland we terrified one house owner as we broke into her house to carry out a search. I was astounded to be offered some fruit as a peace offering by the very same woman days later even though we had trashed her home and frightened her to death. The human hand of kindness has persistently been there to pull me up out of the mire.
And where can I begin to talk about conflict and opposition in the Church! No wonder someone who wanted to change the layout of the church moved the organ inch by inch each week in the hope no one would notice! On speaking at a church that shall remain nameless my offer to take an accompanying worship group so offended the resident organist the instrument was locked on arrival, no keys could be found and I never got the pleasure to meet him! I have since found it best to comply with the “House Rules” as Jackie Pullinger so quaintly put it! I am more than happy for the format of the service to follow traditional customs ~ it’s the getting out the message of the gospel that counts!