This spring, it is clear I have an enemy. In fact, I probably have several of them, but the one bothering me most lately is hoary alyssum. Right now, my yard and gardens are full of it. Hoary alyssum is popping up all over, giving me gardening angst. Particularly troubling is the fact that while I vigilantly destroyed my overt garden enemies like wild strawberries and dandelions, shoots of stealthy hoary alyssum silently crept in. As I focused on my primary enemies, a potent secondary enemy gained strength. Gardening websites categorize hoary alyssum as an invasive plant in Ohio, and I heartily agree. The expanding fields of hoary alyssum in my front yard have caused me to take very strong reactive measures! Suffice it to say, the battle lines between me and hoary alyssum are clearly drawn.
Musing about my hoary alyssum struggle reminds me of a recent conversation with a dear counselee. She fought a fierce battle to overcome a troublesome pattern of sin in her life. It was a significant struggle, but she fought hard with the weapons of truth, humility, and faith. Through Christ’s resurrection power, she gained victory. Yet now she finds herself attacked by a secondary enemy, an unexpected one. Just like my hoary alyssum crept in silently, this adversary has spread all over and is driving her to distraction. She faces the secondary enemy of discouragement.
The battleground is my counselee’s mind. She wrestles to completely accept Christ’s gift of forgiveness as absolute payment for her sin. We’ve talked through this particular battle before, but it is a troubling one. The core struggle lies in believing that the cross is enough. The truth that Jesus’ sacrifice paid for our sin, sorrow, and struggle has to take precedence over all other thoughts. That involves actively pulling out the lies that grow in our minds; lies that our Enemy has certainly planted. He swoops in and wields words that cut deep. He plants slight contradictions to God’s Word in our hearts, and like weeds, watches them spread. He tells us we’re not completely forgiven, but forever stained by sin. He says we can’t move forward from our particular transgressions–they are too deep, too heinous. He twists and qualifies grace, implying that when we willfully disobey, God is done with us. Much as hoary alyssum creeps in after the dandelions have been shut out, this secondary enemy breeds discouragement and despair. The battles leave us wallowing in shame and regret. We may understand we are listening to the voice of a liar, but it’s a hard one to dial down.
We centered our session on powerful truths to offset that dark voice. These include the fact that if our Almighty God declares our sins forgiven and promises to remember them no more, we should follow suit. His view of our position is more valid than ours. Christ’s words are truth, and must hold more weight than any others. We agreed that it cheapens the blood of Jesus Christ when we do not accept it as full, absolute payment for our sins. We also agreed that Romans 8:1 was inspired by God himself, and must be accepted wholeheartedly; “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.” Trusting this verse is not optional for believers. We must accept it with every fiber of our being.
Our recent conversation was worthwhile. We recognized how the twisted sin of discouragement often creeps in behind other sins, and is terribly destructive. It undermines the truth and beauty of God’s grace and the hope of the resurrection. We understood the wise practice of ongoing vigilance. While continuing to confess and turn from the stubborn sins that crowd our path, we agreed to watch for secondary enemies that sprout up behind them. They too must be taken captive to Christ, and processed through the truth of Romans 8:1. As that truth saturated our hearts, we praised God for the indescribable gift of his amazing grace.
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Crystal is a Christ-follower, wife, mother, counselor, and friend. She is passionate about connecting others with the truth of God's miraculous power and sustaining presence.