As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. -- Isaiah 55:10-11

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Redeeming Awe-ctober

For about two decades now, I have not enjoyed October. Emotionally and mentally I have found it to be melancholy at best and clearly depressing more often than not. This is not an emotional response or descriptive given with undue thought. On the contrary, it wasn’t until I reviewed years of journals that an undeniable pattern emerged. October for me, and for several others I know, is not a good month.

I have grown to dread October. I am sure much of what I and my friends experience is related to the freedom of demonic activity related to Halloween. It is a demonic celebration, and frankly, I don’t see how anyone can make a demonic holiday Christian. We don’t suggest we can make a religious porn flick, but we try to take a demonic holiday and make it fun and Christianize it. Granted, we do use movies (not porn, but the same form of media) to reach the lost, and I can see the link of fall festivals and evangelism. However, when Christians put spiders, witches, ghosts, and all form of witchcraft in and outside their homes because “it’s fun”, we are simply saying, “Yes, Satan, this is a form in which we are willing to let you run wild.” And he does.

As a result, there is an unleashing in the spiritual and a demonic freedom in the spiritual during this time of year that effects many of us, and I hate it.

This year, however, has been different. This year my children went on the offensive.

I was doing dishes when two sets of small feet walked into the kitchen and stood behind me. “Mom, can God redeem anything?” my children asked in unison.

“Yes,” I said without hesitation.

“Even October?” they asked.

I froze. Even October? My head reeled. Well, God can redeem anything, but October is so steeped in demonic stuff…Then the Lord spoke to my heart, “Can I redeem anything or not? Am I bigger than all the demons in hell…or not?”

“Yes, God can redeem October,” I replied. How much I believed it, I don’t know. I’m just being honest. How would God redeem October? What would that look like? My children were already there.

“Mom, how can we redeem October?” they continued.

I turned from my sink full of dishes to face my children whose hearts where on a wavelength I was just catching. I had no answer. I only had questions. “What do you think?”

They didn’t have answers, but they had insight. Halloween is about death, fear, and darkness. The opposite would be life, hope, and light. How could we give those things, and to whom would we give them?

At first, it was a little bumpy, but suddenly, their hearts melded with the Father’s and ideas poured forth. In the end, there was one summary: “We can love people however God says, whenever God says. We can help people have a better day. We can be light in the darkness.” Their mission was set, and they have been faithful to the mission of redemption.

Amazing the power of choosing to be instruments of redemption. Amazing how that opens the door for God to be redemptive.

In September, I suffered headaches that were debilitating. Examinations showed extremely strained eye muscles that had to be rested. After two weeks of rest and new glasses, the headaches continued. Then Rob and the children were hit with the respiratory virus going around that lasted a full 7 days with high fever and sleepless nights. During that time, my mom was diagnosed as having a mini-stroke. We had our heater checked and found out the heating element wasn't working. A $123 part. The day my mom went in for extensive tests, I spent the morning transporting my son from doctor to various tests to determine the source of his chest pains. On the way to the hospital, my van stalled 4 times for no apparent reason. As we were leaving the hospital, the handle on the outside of the back door broke, and when I pulled onto a busy road, the door flew open.

As I lay on my bed that afternoon waiting for the doctor to call with EKG results or my mom to call with any results, I murmured, “I hate October.”

The Lord replied, “I am redeeming October.” Again, I wondered, How?

Last week—two weeks after the EKG—we finally got the results. All tests are clear. It seems that my son was just sore from the coughing and sneezing. All indications are that the blood clot behind Mom’s eye has dissolved and is no longer a concern. Our heater is working. The piece was replaced the day our temperatures dropped from mid- to high- 80s during the day and 60s at night to 60s for highs and low-40s or even high-30s at night. The personal side of that story is that I am notorious for remembering to have our heater checked about December, weeks or even a few months after we start using it. Usually, our maintenance company calls me. This year I was compelled to call while it was still warm. Had we tried to use the heater with a broken heating element, I wouldn’t have known about the problem until we either smelled the gas because it filled up the house or because the hot water heater ignited the gas and it exploded. While the van door handle isn’t fixed, the latch does. The door stays closed. No source for the stalling was ever determined so there were no other expenses, and there has been no further problems.

Every concern we have faced this month has been met by God’s provision. And there is more.

A friendship that was nearly broken two years ago has been restored. We have a friend who was diagnosed with a mass in her kidney and underwent surgery. The family was told the mass was almost guaranteed to be cancerous. The x-rays clearly show a mass, but after prayer, the surgeon found nothing. Further x-rays and tests confirm there is no longer anything there. Our friend who has been standing in faith for her marriage to be restored called this week to tell us her husband had broken ties with his girlfriend, moved out of her home, and has taken steps toward restoration of their marriage. And there are day to day reminders of God’s blessings in forms of emails, cards from friends, and chances to minister and receive ministry.

Friday I was talking to a friend of mine, and I said, “You know, I went into this month dreading October. I have spent this month watching God overcome every obstacle that has been thrown at my family and big ones thrown at our friends, and I just keep thinking of how blessed we all are.”

It leaves me in awe.

In the past month, I have not posted much. I’ve received several emails asking where I am and how I am. I didn’t know what to say then, but now I do.

I have been on my face. I have been dancing wildly.
I have been overwhelmed. I have been on top of the world.
I have been in pain. I have been in ecstasy.
I have been in tears of brokenness and joy.
I have watched the enemy attack. I have watched the Lord overcome.
I have been desperate. I have watched the Lord respond.

I have been in Awe-ctober, and because of God’s redeeming power, it has truly been Awe-some.

Copyright Jerri Phillips 2007


Jan Parrish said...

God is doing an awesome work in you indeed. :)

Praise God He has also set me free from dreading October. I was raped on the way home from a church Halloween party nearly 30 years ago and I've always dreaded October and Halloween. Needless to say, we do not acknowledge it in any way. However, I am free from dreading or fearing the day.He has indeed, redeemed the month for me as well.

Additionally, God gave us our youngest son in October. He just turned 22 a few days ago.

Thank you God for the beauty of fall and for your redemption.

I'm glad things are better for you now. Sounds like things were really shaken up over there.

Jenny B. said...

LOL! When God says He'll do something, He always takes it up twenty notches more than you'd ever expect! He is so cool!

Linda said...

Jerri, what a testimony. I'm glad you're putting it all down for your future generations to read. I am like you, I don't care for Halloween, and I'm very confused about why churches take certain stances, why 20 years ago it seemed frowned upon and now it's promoted, etc. Our youth ministry, as you may have read, does an anti or answer to the holiday, but not on the night itself. I hate that it is America's 2nd biggest holiday with 5 billion spent annually on it. As you detailed all of the details of the horrid day, I could hardly believe it. I do think you were under attack, and God used it all for his glory when you testified to his faithfulness. sorry such a long comment!