How to Make Your Difficulties Disappear
By Linda Evans Shepherd
When You Can’t Find God; How to Ignite the Power of His Presence
It started as darkness fell across the campground one cool, October evening in the Poconos Mountains. The women and I had gathered to worship in the pine-raftered lodge and after a couple of awe-inspiring songs, one of the attendees approached the microphone. In a hushed tone of reverence, she said, “God is here. The Lord’s presence is with us like never before. He’s going to do something new. Keep your eyes focused on Him.”
As this woman stepped away, the worshippers resounded with joy. I closed my eyes; my intent to focus on God. And I did, that is, until I felt a new presence. Something was in the room with us. I peeked out of one eye. Yes! Something was hovering above the band. Was it a dove?
I squinted until I realized, No, no, that would be a bat.
I noted that the women in the band didn’t seem to mind that a bat hovered over them. Their eyes were closed and those without instruments raised their hands in total worship.
God made bats, I reasoned. Bats are part of his creation. So there’s a bat. So what? We can worship God with a bat.
I closed my eye and continued to worship. But then I felt my heart skip a beat. Something else was happening near me.
I squinted to see the bat was now dive-bombing me and the entire front row.
I was impressed by the lady next to me. Though she too saw the bat, she kept right on worshipping. With her hands raised in praise, she stood in a crouched position, her elbows flapping as she dodged the bat every time it swooped at her head.
This was something new, she was still worshiping though under attack from a bat! “Keep standing,” I whispered, “it’s not going to hurt you.”
She nodded and stood a little straighter, still praising God, but with her eyes on the bat.
I closed my eyes again and tried to focus on God. And I really, really tried. But now I felt a shiver so I peeked again. Though the praise band was still enraptured in worship, the bat had expanded his territory and was now dive-bombing the entire room of 300 women worshippers.
The women crouched, they dodged, but to my amazement, they kept on singing. Incredible. God certainly was doing something new.
I closed my eyes again and really, really, really tried to focus on God. And I did, until a most disturbing tingle fingered down my spine. I turned again, this time, to see two women with raised brooms, each standing across the room from each other, playing what appeared to be a game of badminton with the bat.
Wack. One would knock the bat, over the heads of the worshippers, to the other player. Whop.
Wow, I thought, that must be what spiritual warfare looks like. How unusual to actually see it. I turned around and tried to worship again. This time, I really, really, really tired to focus on God, but now, but now… the hair on the back of my neck bristled. I turned to see that one of the women had slapped the bat against the far wall of the room with her broom and was sweeping the bat down. I could see her bare hand reaching to grab the bat.
Before I knew it, I was running down the aisle shouting, “No! No! Don’t touch that bat! It could have rabies!”
Too late, she’d already grabbed the bat and threw it into the night where it fluttered away.
I stood behind her in shock. “Did it bite you?” I asked her in a whisper.
She turned around, looking stunned. Though she shook her head no, I wasn’t sure I believed her. I determined to follow up with her after the service as I walked back to my seat. The worship song was ending and the lady who’d instructed us to focus on God was heading back to the microphone.
As I took my seat, she gave me and the women a look of disgust. Her pointed finger swept the room.
“Shame on you. You didn’t focus on God,” she scolded.
I felt my face burn. Wait a minute, I wanted to argue, these women were under attack. They could have scattered, they could have screamed, but they kept right on worshipping.
My self-righteous response, though not spoken aloud, was suddenly pierced when one of the members of the band looked surprised. She said, “Did something happen while we were worshipping?”
That’s when it hit me. Though the band endured the same attack as the rest of us, they were so focused on worshipping God they hadn’t even noticed the problem of the bat, much less fought it in hand-to-hand combat.
And that’s the secret; the more you focus on God, the more your difficulties will disappear. While it’s impossible to not occasionally notice batty circumstances, press into praising God and soon you’ll be able to put your difficulties into proper perspective—somewhere beneath God.
Help me to walk with you, by faith, not looking at my troubles, but by keeping my eyes focused on you.
In Jesus’ Name,
For more information about Linda or her book When You Can’t Find God, How to Ignite the Power of His Presence, go to: www.IgniteMyFaith.com.
©Linda Evans Shepherd 2011
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