CityLine Women – Volume 24
Hello, CityLine Women!
Thanks to all of you who helped make our last Well Night an incredible experience in God’s presence. We were led to try a different format for this event. It was a powerful night of worship and prayer.
We have an upcoming CityLine Women’s Serve Opportunity with Feed My Starving Children on Thursday, Nov. 9, in Schaumburg. If you would like to carpool, meet us at the church at 6 p.m. Please visit the CityLine events page for other upcoming women’s events.
This month, our sister Jessica Canlas has shared a devotional on the darkness that spiritual battle can bring, as well as the Light that pierces through to prevail. Whether you are feeling victorious or defeated in this season, I pray you are encouraged and emboldened by her experience.
Grace and peace,
CityLine Women’s Interim Coordinator
WHEN DARKNESS REIGNS
I’m a big fan of encouragement.
In fact, being able to offer it effectively is required in my profession–and I enjoy doing it.
You see, I’ve been blessed with a positive attitude. For as long as I can remember, my glass has always been half full. I can take challenges in stride. I am not easily offended. I typically find it easy to see the positive potential in just about every situation.
To be clear, I have no illusions that all of this is due to the “Positive Mental Attitude” that I maintain or the “Growth Mindset” that I’ve cultivated, because I really don’t think I’ve done either of these things. I give one hundred percent of the credit for this gift to the Holy Spirit, Who has always been there to champion Christ’s victories (2 Tim. 1:6-7). Who, while showing me life on the mountaintop, has sustained me through many a valley.
For example, just a few years ago, I was laid off from my full-time job after turning down an incredible offer from another employer. I opted to decline the opportunity in order to keep the health benefits I was going to need because I’d just found out I was pregnant. Within weeks of this decision, we experienced our fourth miscarriage. Shortly after that, a cascade of catastrophic events ensued, and my husband and I were faced with the failure of our business and foreclosure on a home–both of which did eventually occur. Through it all, I certainly had my moments, but I had no doubt that God had my back and was pulling me close to Him for shelter. The long of it is a story for another day, but the short of it is that the Lord used all of that–and my response to it–to bring my husband to saving faith. Talk about using what was meant for evil for good! (Gen. 15:20)
However, just a few weeks ago, I went through a period of depression that felt so intense, yet so foreign to me that I didn’t even know how to pray about it. In fact, I nearly felt like I shouldn’t pray about it and just accept my fate. For the first time in my life, I struggled with feelings of inadequacy and failure that threatened to suffocate me. I felt as though I was walking underwater and had begun to question how anyone in my life could value me, much less love me. As if I could just melt away from this world, and nobody would be much affected.
As much as I didn’t want to, I knew I had to share my struggle.
I also knew that God put people in my life who are willing to do this with me (Gal. 6:2). So I reached out to a dear friend from my community group. With open arms, she listened to the indignity and pain that I was feeling. This loving sister gently prodded me to question my thinking and impressed upon me a strong reminder of the grace that God has for me. Yes, even me, in my bleakest moments of feeling unworthy and unloved, God knows and is caring for me.
A few days later, I knew it was time to share with my husband. You may wonder why I didn’t do this first, and I’ll admit that part of it was because I felt ashamed. I felt guilty for not being the
wife and mom who has it altogether, for being the broken one who needs to lean instead of be leaned on.
So, really, it was an ironic sort of pride. The lies swirling around in my head rallied to turn up the volume on a message that I was not good enough, and I was so committed to holding onto “my truth” that I wasn’t willing to acknowledge that it was actually a lie (Ezekiel 28:1-2). Go figure.
But, praise God, He got me past that. The Holy Spirit reminded me that my husband is my covering. That even if he didn’t like me anymore (yes, I had this idea in my head), that the promise he made to God was to love and protect me.
True to form, once my husband was presented with my situation, he reminded me of some simple Biblical truths in a straightforward way that was almost brotherly, without question or judgment. These were truths I already knew but had somehow forgotten in my angsty darkness.
1. The thoughts I was having were untrue (Jer. 17:9).
2. The Bible tells us where lies come from (John 8:44).
3. Thanks to Jesus, we are given the power within us to reject those lies (James 4:7). With confidence. With conviction. With the authority of Almighty God.
I realized, without doubt, that the thoughts I was having were not my own. That the voices whispering death in my ear could only come from darkness (2 Cor. 11:3).
So, I began to pray a little differently, regularly asking the Lord to remove the influence of Satan from me, my family and my home. I asked God to help me put on His armor, to show me how to walk in His strength (Psalm 71:16).
In doing this, I came to understand that the fight before me had always been there, and that, for much of my life, Jesus had already been training me–upgrading my equipment, if you will–to be ready for battle. In the name of Jesus–this is important, to reference the Sovereignty Who grants this power–I began to state that I reject the voices of darkness. I prayed Scripture. I told the devil and his demons to go away. Out loud.
And, no, the thoughts didn’t disappear immediately. I had to push them away many times. But with each rejection, it became easier. The burden grew lighter. I emerged from my underwater fog.
Now here’s where I need to make it clear that I am in no way belittling anyone’s chronic battles with anxiety, depression, and the heavy weight of real feelings that can overtake us to the detriment of our health and well-being. I’m not saying that a few words can end a lifetime of struggle–nor am I saying that they can’t. We serve a mighty God, after all.
But, Dear Sister, please don’t underestimate the power of prayer (James 5:16-18). Don’t minimize the truths we find in Scripture about who the real enemy of our souls is and that he is hunting us (I Peter 5:8). Most importantly, don’t forget the power that lives within the Chrstian heart to battle the powers of darkness with the almighty triumph that can raise the dead to life (Ephesians 1:18-22).
So, if you are reading this and can relate–don’t sit alone in your sadness. We all have our challenges, but your dark thoughts may not be coming from you. Pray for clarity. Pray for discernment. Pray for strength, protection and guidance. Reach out for godly counsel. Read the Bible, believe it, and follow instructions:
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints”
Now I get to encourage you: You and I are soldiers in the mightiest army, called to fight the most important battle of our lives. Take up your arms with confidence, Sisters. Because we belong to God, we have already won.
Heavenly Father, we live in a world where darkness reigns and the enemy seeks to devour. We thank You for the armor you give us to stand and fight, knowing that, in You, we already have victory. We ask that You grant us the wisdom to know what is true, the faith to lean on Your strength, and the courage to stand firm against wickedness. Protect us from evil. We ask all this in Jesus’ name, Amen.
ABOUT THE WRITER
Jessica and her husband Philip have been married for 19 years. They live in Chicago with their two children: Obie, who is currently crushing his freshman year in high school, and Esme, who loves being in Kindergarten. Jes enjoys lifting heavy things, writing poetry, and eating ice cream with her family.
Ministry Spotlight: CityLine Kids with Rachel Boone
For the next several months, we will be focusing on a ministry of CityLine and how we can participate in the work.
That’s how many volunteers it takes to run a Sunday morning in kids ministry.
That’s how many volunteers it takes to run a Sunday morning for an entire month in kids ministry.
That’s how many volunteers it takes to make an impact in a child’s life.
Ready for another fun fact?
The kids in our ministry are the future leaders of our church.
Every week, we get to pour into this next generation by teaching kids what it means to “Love God. Love people. Make disciples. For the glory of God.”
Just last month, I had the privilege of leading a small group for 2nd/3rd grade boys (yes, yes I did pray for patience), and the activity required the kids to memorize the first part of John 3:16. There were a couple of boys who didn’t know the verse and instead of having those who did know it sit on the sidelines, I partnered the boys up so they could help memorize it with each other.
They were doing exactly what our mission statement proclaims.
They were helping each other memorize the Word of God.
While I was pouring into the next generation, the next generation was pouring into each other.
And I couldn’t have been more grateful to witness them in action.
I promise you this: kids ministry is NOT the easiest ministry you’ll ever sign up for.
But when a preschooler can tell me that “Jesus is their friend forever” and when a 4th grader talks about the creative ways they can show Jesus’ love to others during the week, it’s then that I realize what a privilege it is to serve the next generation.
So come be a part of our monthly “204.” Help meet the goal of ” 56.”
Or better yet: be the “1” to make an impact.
“I’ve recently started serving in Children’s ministry, and, though I’m still adjusting, it’s been amazing to see how dedicated the CM leaders and volunteers are,” says Julie Polachira.
“It has been so helpful that all the prep work is done, and I just have to come in prepared to do the activities. It is clear that they care about the kids and about sharing God’s Word with them in an engaging way. I also love that they have classes for the special needs kids.”
If you are interested in serving with kids ministry, email Rachel Boone at firstname.lastname@example.org.
CONNECT AT CITYLINE
● Join a Women’s Community Group today and enjoy Bible study, fellowship, accountability and fun!
● Are you a mom? Join our Moms in the Bible Study on Monday evenings through Nov. 13. Each meeting is a standalone class, so don’t worry if you’ve missed one!
Serve: If you feel led to pour into the next generation, Children’s Ministry needs you!
Socialize: Do you have young children? Join our CityLine Moms of Littles Group Chat! Email email@example.com to be added.