It’s been over 25 years since the movie While You Were Sleeping came out. You might remember. An attractive, well-to-do young man falls in front of a subway train, and although rescued by a young woman, is nonetheless in a coma for quite some time. Meanwhile, his family mistakenly believes that the young woman, played by Sandra Bullock, is his fiancé, thus, for some time, they bestow upon her all the courtesies and endowments expected for their future daughter-in-law. It’s a cute story of this mistaken identity, which occurs “while” the young man “is sleeping.”
Sometimes, for whatever reason, we’re “sleeping,” unaware of the turmoil occurring in our lives or in our families’ lives. Time goes by. Circumstances worsen, and by the time we are fully aware, it appears we’ve lost control of the situation. This happened in my life. But it wasn’t “cute” like the movie. I recognized it, in fact, reading the gospels, in which Jesus told us exactly what happens if/when we are “sleeping.” I wrote about it in When Life Roars, Jesus Whispers. Here’s an excerpt:
Even more life-changing, a spiritual battle was taking place. Ron and I were at war with the enemy, the thief. He was stealing and killing and destroying our family,[i] right in front of our eyes. The Word of God is truth, and it told me about the enemy:
“But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away.”
“Where then did the weeds come from?”
“An enemy did this,” he replied. “The weeds are the sons of the evil one, and the enemy who sows them is the devil.”[ii]
Our battle was against the enemy, the devil. I had the power to fight back. I was in the Lord’s army. So I put on the armor.
Suddenly we were facing the enemy in our daughter’s defense. It had been Paul’s final instructions to the Ephesians:
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.”[iii]
The instructions were given to the church members in Ephesus, and to me. The passage continued, “Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist.”[iv]
I know the truth. Jesus is the truth. His Word is truth.
Earlier in his letter, Paul had told the Ephesians to “speak the truth in love.”[v] These instructions confirmed the very path I had been taking to reach my daughter, the path to break through the evil force that was surrounding her. It was a path of love.
I had carried her within me, and I had loved her from that time. Her backsliding didn’t change my love for her. Her anger or harsh words didn’t change my love for her. I flooded her with unending love.
The instructions Paul gave to the Ephesians and to me are the inspired Word of God. The passage continued speaking of righteousness and readiness and faith: “With the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.”[vi]
I want this faith. I need this faith. And with this faith, I can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.
The final piece of armor? The sword! The sword of the Spirit! God’s Word! “Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”[vii] I delved into it; I searched it; it became more alive to me than it had ever been. “Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.”[viii]
My faith will increase through hearing the Word!
I pictured myself with the armor – the belt, the breastplate, the footwear, the helmet – with a shield in one hand and my Bible in the other. Yes, I put on the armor, and I pictured the Lord God Almighty, the Most High leading me, surrounding me, filling me, protecting me, and delivering me and my beautiful daughter, Amber.
Trusting Him didn’t come easy for me during that time. Fears came. Often. I had to keep reading the Word and speaking the Word. The Word, itself, became my prayer to Him: Lord, you have said that because you love me, you will rescue me; because you love Amber; you will rescue her. I will call upon you, and you will answer me. You will be with me in trouble; you will deliver me and will honor me! My, what a gracious and awesome God you are![ix]
[i] John 10:10 NIV
[ii] From Matthew 13
[iii] Ephesians 6:10-13 NIV
[iv] Ephesians 6:14 NIV
[v] Ephesians 4:15 NIV
[vi] Ephesians 6:14b-16 NIV
[vii] Ephesians 6:17 NIV
[viii] Romans 10:17 NIV
[ix] Psalm 91:14-15 NIV paraphrased