Satan's Playbook

Editor's Note: Today's Guest Post is by Sara Holloway, a member of the church here in Bowie. Sara's father-in-law serves as an elder here, and Sara, her husband, Scott, and her whole family have been a great blessing to my wife and I, as well as to the church. Sara blogs regularly and graciously agreed to contribute this post to Start2Finish. She offers a very candid, very personal window into her life and how Satan has been at work to discourage her and her family. But I'm grateful that Sara and Scott are such strong Christians and have persevered through Satan's attack. As you read Sara's article, reflect on how Satan has been at work in your life and give glory to God for the strength he gives to withstand all the flaming arrows of the Evil One. - mcw Guest Author: Sara Holloway

I’ve never been one to entertain thoughts and validate the existence of the supernatural. Novels and TV specials about ghosts and witches do not appeal (OK, repulse) me. I just do not get into Halloween (the ghouls and goblins part, free candy and cute kids in costumes I can totally handle!) I don’t understand the vampire movie craze. Period.

But I do acknowledge and fear the existence and power of Satan on this earth. The Bible makes it clear that he is living and active in the world. In the first chapter of Job, God asks Satan what he has been up to. His reply, “‘From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.’ “ Oh wow. You get this picture of Satan lurking around,” looking for a soul to steal”, to quote Charlie Daniels. And then obviously he shows up in the New Testament as well, trying his best to temp Jesus himself in the wilderness, and in Luke 22:3, “Satan entered into Judas” – seriously? Can he do that?? The book The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis fictitiously portrays the demon ‘Screwtape’ writing letters of instruction to his nephew demon’ Wormwood’, telling him exactly how to control the thoughts and actions of his human ‘patient’ to keep him from becoming a strong supporter of the ‘Enemy’ (God). Although not scripture, it sure does make you think.

Recently, I have seen Satan at work in my family’s life. No, we haven’t experienced and catastrophic losses or turned our back on our faith, but let me show you how he has attacked us with a timeline of the past two months.

Early in September, Scott and I committed to start reading and studying a chapter of the New Testament together every night (excluding the gospels and revelation, we would have studied the entire NT by the end of the year). All is well and good for a few weeks, and then my work schedule got crazy. I was gone a lot, slammed every day at work, emotionally and physically spent, on call two weekends in a row and scheduled to go to a conference the next weekend. We kept reading, but our relationship felt cold and distant. My ‘love language’ (read The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman) has always been quality time, but we never could pinpoint Scott’s, he’s so laid back and even keel that nothing seems to phase him. Well, during that time, because I hadn’t been around or able to spend many quiet moments together, he figured out that his was quality time, too, and that he hadn’t felt at all loved in a long time. Epic. Wife. Fail. See what happened there? Scott and I attempted to grow together spiritually, and Satan found a way to use my job to drive us apart.

So, the last weekend of September, he came to Fort Worth to go on a date with me while I was at my conference, and we were able to reconnect. That night, we made some exciting plans for our future regarding decisions we’d been wrestling with for six months or more. This must have made the Devil really mad, because two days later he found a way to destroy our plans. Our last milk-hand at the dairy quit. If you aren’t in the dairy industry, you can’t fully grasp the impact this has, so I’ll run down the list of badness and uncertainty it has caused:

  1. Scott or Kenton would always have to milk either day or night (longer, harder hours to work).
  2. A decision had to be made to keep milking cows, to milk less cows, or to sell the entire milk herd.
  3. If they keep the cows, the guys work themselves to exhaustion, and I never see my husband.
  4. If they sell the cows, they no longer have jobs, and a proud three generations of dairy farming comes to a close.
  5. All of the decisions and plans we’d made two nights earlier got put on hold, again.
  6. Milk hands are hard to find, harder to train, and even harder to keep, so hiring another one was pretty much out of the question.

While my head was reeling with this news, I found comfort in two verses of scripture and posted them on Facebook, thinking maybe someone else might find encouragement as well. Apparently, the devil thinks scripture is a powerful thing, because the next day, a troublesome ex-church member passive-aggressively attacked me in the comments section under the scriptures (which opened a whole other can of worms, insert eye roll here). We somehow got through the rest of the week, and I had a few days off to spend together as a family before the hand was gone, and life got harder.

That was Monday. Friday, I got to go to an amazing ladies retreat (see Turning over a new leaf) with my sister in law and found just what I needed to recharge my batteries, to recommit to studying and praying. Sunday, I had a major breakdown about putting Coleman back in daycare full time. He’s been spending Thursdays and Fridays with Scott, but would no longer be able to as Scott’s work schedule had changed. Scott and I read our Bible passage that night and God gave me some amazing scriptures to reaffirm the lessons from the retreat and encourage me that all was well.

I guess Satan decided to fight fire with fire, because the next afternoon, I was diagnosed with an ectopic pregnancy (all the gory details can be found here). You see, he had to resort to an attack on my physical health to distract me from attending to my spiritual health. And it worked. We quit reading. I was sick. Scott was gone to the dairy. Coleman could sense that we were upset about something. He used the emotional roller-coaster of female hormones to guide misgivings about God’s plan for our family. He used Scott’s absence to let insecurities and worry creep in. It took almost the entire month of October to recover.

Do you see his strategy? Do you see how subtle, yet infiltrative his methods are? It was well thought out, carefully planned on a timeline, an offense for every defense. Every time we tried to rally, he came back with something even harder, kicked us while we were down. No, we didn’t suffer a major loss, praise God, but now we’ve lost something even more precious: time spent with God. And you’d better believe that is a huge victory to Satan.

But let me share something else with you. During this whole battle over our spiritual walk, God fought back:

  • The Holy Spirit gave me scripture memory to lift me up just when I needed it most.
  • God guided my studying to gird me up before the assault even started.
  • He gave me the desire to attend the ladies retreat (I had to rearrange my on call schedule) where I learned some invaluable resources to dive into God’s word and reap the benefits.
  • He used family to minister to our needs while I was sick and unable to do so.
  • He provided friends that were concerned for us and look out for me.
  • He delivered a sermon through a great friend about finding my faith to snap me back to reality and realize what was going on.
  • He gave my husband unbelievable strength and patience, he reassured me that I mean the world to him, he was scared with me, and he took great care of me.

See that! GOD. FOUGHT. BACK. For me, for little ol’ me! Even when I didn’t know what was going on! And he does every single day for all of us-isn’t that just amazing?!? So the next time you think you’re being kicked while you are down, “count it all joy” just as Paul did. Take it as a compliment: you wouldn’t be a target if you weren’t doing something that made Satan mad and threatened his mission. But at the same time, be aware, be on guard, and allow God to fight back!

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