THE GATES OF HELL SHALL NOT PREVAIL
by Carol Shaffron
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Hopelessness crouched at the window of her soul leering at Cassie as she shuddered in Fear's smothering embrace. Her mind was suddenly flooded with images of being destitute and on the street. Her breathing came hard and she swallowed with difficulty. Taking deep breaths she determined that panic would not throw her into a dark pit. God's word flashed across the window like a bolt of lightening and Cassie began to declare "And My God shall supply all my need according to His abundant riches in glory by Christ Jesus." out of her mouth and soon the grip of Fear's embrace loosened and Hopelessness had fled in terror at sight of the gleaming sword she wielded in her mouth. Weird picture a sword coming from ones mouth...
But all that truly mattered was that she was free now. Hopelessness and Fear had fled before her declarations, and Cassie felt the comfort of the Holy Spirit saturate her very being. He lived in her heart and all she need do was allow Him the freedom to come forth to be her very Comfort, Strength and Guide and lead her into all truth. She had learned the secret to being more than a Conqueror through Christ Jesus Who strengthened her. It only took about all of 28 or so years of yearning, seeking, studying, listening to ministers of God preach and teach the vital truths that God was giving them to equip the body of which she was vital member.
And she had learned the purifying process by which the Holy Spirit brought to the surface all of the ugly, gross dirt and dross from her soul was not to embarrass or to further damage her soul, but to cleanse, heal and strengthen and to help her to align her soul with the heart and mind of the Father.
Cassie longed to be like Christ. Yet she really had only very limited knowledge and understanding of what that truly meant. And what
exactly did Jesus mean when He said, "I am come that ye might have life and that more abundantly." It certainly escaped her. Here she
was with no money to move and a termination of her lease.
Infirmity and surgery had diminished her income and the landlord felt he had been overly understanding and patient in letting her pay rent late and in taking partial payments. She was becoming a little too comfortable in her situation and perhaps not as hot in her pursuit of the Lord as she should have been. But the lease termination from her landlord had very rudely awakened her to her complete and utter dependence on the Father. She knew He had it all figured out already and that she needed to just humble herself before His mighty hand and cast all her cares upon Him. So whenever any care or
worry began to peek through the windows of her soul, she immediately wrote every care very small on a tiny piece of paper to put it into it's proper perspective, took a scissor and cut the slip of paper into teensy, tiny little pieces and took it outside to let it blow away in the wind.
That was her way of giving it up to the Holy Spirit who most definitely knew the answers and was quite willing to show them to her as she learned to silence the clamoring of her noisy, undisciplined, self focused, unruly, immature soul. Why had she not been able to lay down her desires and dreams and let God take over a lot sooner? She would be on this earth 53 years in just another month or two and was born again around age 23 or 24. It was so hard to keep track of all that --- the important thing was she knew she still belonged to God and that He had not abandoned her even though she caved in to her own fears and soulish demands to try and pacify her flesh.
God is good. God is way more than extremely good. Do we have any idea of how good God is, Cassie thought to herself!
It was as if several times as of late Cassie had run smack into a brick wall that Abba Father had constructed for her protection. She could go no further in her own silliness and vanity. Now she was ecstatic that God loved her so much, He stopped her in her tracks and would not let her persist in her drivenness to do things the way she thought she should. She really believed she was being led by the Spirit.
Now she realized what spirit --- old dog Fear had been driving her to try to fulfill God's promises. She never fully recognized the subtle
almost imperceptible words he whispered. "How many times has God let you down? Can you really trust Him?" "It's been how many years since God told you that?" She never really heard the words in her head --- instead they were surrounding the mind of her spirit like a swarm of nasty knats trying to get into her eyes.
But God had been faithful and kept drawing her. He picked her up each time she fell and held her close in His arms while she gradually let go of the disappointment, the unforgiveness, the bitterness of the poison lies the enemy of our souls injected into her mind. "You're being deprived of the love of a warm human being." He whispered. "It's so hard to break through to God to feel His love." "Why do I have to be alone and fight this warfare myself?"
It hurt so deeply whenever she saw couples in a restaurant laughing and sharing and caring about one another. Why was she still alone?
She wanted to love God with all her heart but the desire to be held, to be cared about by another human being was sometimes so strong, so overwhelming that Anger would find his way to her side and incite her to rise up against God and then Guilt and Shame would beat and batter her over the head and keep her from falling on her face before her Creator and the One Who made her as a treasure for Himself. What was that verse? 1"So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law." But hadn't God said to Himself in the garden, "It is not good that the man be alone..." and she was a woman. What could be good about a woman, especially a woman of
nearly 52 years of age being alone? And Adam met with God face to face.
It was just so wearying to try to keep her mind on God. Now this..... God what kind of Father are you? You're supposed to be my Husband and take care of my needs and now I'm facing the street....
None of the jobs Cassie had ever worked paid enough for her to meet all her expenses, but God did somehow provide. She knew she was entering a new fresh chapter of her life and especially of her relationship with God. She was learning to be really transparent --- to voice the questions in her soul that she suppressed for so long in fear of being condemned. But those questions were there clamoring to be addressed and answered. Somehow Cassie realized that once they were brought out into the open they lost their power or they just didn't make sense. Sometimes the Holy Spirit answered her question as it was emerging from the shadows and it fled. It was dispelled as like mist as utter folly.
God's love was --- well, it's just not explainable in human language. It doesn't always make sense to the lusts or strong desires of the
unregenerate soul. Even though Cassie had years of studying and hearing the word, sometimes, God just plain did not make sense and love seemed terribly cruel. Then at other times Cassie thought she had died and gone to heaven. She understood the painful times was the Lord's pruning. Jesus talked about it when He was on the earth. 2"I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." You can do nothing!!! Well that was for sure. Can't make enough money to live on. Can't be the person I want to really be. Can't even confidently relate to people without some kind of fear of rejection or wondering if they'll accept me.
Somehow --- that truth had finally, really sunk in and Cassie was learning to silence her soul's clamoring and wait in silence for God to really
impress her Spirit man with the imprint of His heart and mind. It was getting easier and easier and the memory of running into the brick wall helped to remind her it was senseless and futile to run ahead in her own imaginings. It was like she could now see paintings hanging on the wall in the room where her imagination resided being taken down and God asking her permission to put up new ones for her to look at. And of course she said, "Yes, Lord, Please do redecorate! This is after all really Your Home!!" And I would much rather look at Your paintings on the walls than the ones I put up there from the galleries of this sin cursed, broken, twisted world that Adam handed over to the destroyer. I want to cooperate with You and the Spirit of Harmony in restoring this world to the order You planned for it before Adam gave away his God delegated authority. And I know that You say in Your word, . 3"For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God's abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ." I do not have to wait until I die and go to heaven to rule and reign with You. It's possible right now through the grace that is to be brought to me in Christ!!!
How I have longed to be free from the rat race
and to walk in victory taking my place seated in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. How much had the lusts of my flesh robbed from me in my pursuit of human comfort and acceptance!!! It just about made her sick with regret and yet she would not wallow in that muddy puddle either. It was now all behind her.
Cassie tried to remember what Jesus had said about building His church. She looked up the verse and pondered and meditated on it.
4"When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, "Who do people say the Son of Man is?" They replied,
"Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets." "But what about you?" he asked. "Who
do you say I am?" Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."
Jesus replied, "Blessed are you, Simon son of
Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven." Cassie meditated on the part "and the gates of Hades or hell shall not overcome it".
Surely just a few hours earlier the gates of hell seemed securely built around her soul. In fact for most of her life the gates of hell
seemed to be closing in on her, but the precious Holy Spirit had given her holy dynamite to demolish them once and for all. Oh, Cassie
had no doubt that that old dog Fear and his counterpart Anxiety would return to try to set up their gates just outside the window of her soul, but she knew that if they tried she had the sword of the spirit in her mouth to run them off and she had Holy Ghost dynamite to blast those bleak, ugly, flimsy gates to dust and powder.
The gates of hell would not prevent her from taking her seat in heavenly places with Christ and daily receiving the abundant grace available to her to rule and reign with Christ right now. After all she remembered what the scripture said about not being of this world,
4".....you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God's people and members of God's household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together
and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit." Imagine the unspeakable awesome privilege of being the very dwelling of God Almighty Himself and being called aside to be His very own treasured possession, friend and companion to whom He longs to reveal the Wisdom of the Ages and bestow abundant blessing upon. And how, she wondered had she been so blind to His glorious love and goodness.
Cassie realized she really needed to let go of the memories of all past experiences to be able to walk with the One Who has untold riches in store for her and stop listening to the whining of her foolish soul. Once the Father hangs all of His paintings in the room where her
imagination lives, she knows it won't be hard anymore to keep her gaze upon Him. Already the paintings were beginning to come alive and produce in her heart a hope unlike any she ever had before. And now she knew that only as she fixes her gaze upon her King and Lover of her soul would those new hopes and visions of life come alive.
She also knew that the gates of hell were nothing more than smokescreens of the enemy to try to blind her to the goodness and love of her Savior and Lord, King Jesus.
Love was beginning to fill the scarred places where Distrust used to hide in the dark shadows. Confidence increased in her as she held onto the hand of her true Love and feared to let go. Everywhere He led her she felt she belonged and that the world was hers. She was after all joint heir with Christ. As she took time to reflect on her years of growing in the knowledge of the Lord, Cassie knew she had by no means arrived and yet she surely was not what she used to be --- she had come far and the Lord had given her dominion little by little over her besetting sins until finally she was victorious.
She knew her time of ruling had come because she had learned the most important lesson of fully leaning on Jesus and of quieting her own soulish ramblings. Not that she might never fall or miss God again, but she knew He would never abandon her nor would He deprive her of what was truly best --- His awesome, marvelous love, mercy and
grace. And ultimately that was truly all she ever needed or wanted. Carrie's heart had found its home in the bosom of the Lover of her
soul and her soul was beginning to bask in His love like never before and forget all of its former longings.
Cassie was beginning to get a real taste of heaven on earth. And it far surpassed the pleasures of sin of any sin she had ever indulged in.
It was mind boggling to her now how she ever could have been so thoroughly convinced she just could not live without the affections of a man, granted a very special man, but yet just a man, nonetheless. Or how long she'd given in to the fears of losing his fickle attentions by engaging in sexual sin to pacify him and keep his attention.
Now she was truly loved and free and her heart danced with delight and pleasure in the Majestic Presence of the One she knew loved her more than any fickle human male ever could. And the
morning's skirmish with the powers of Fear and Anxiety and Despair were long forgotten in His warm, comforting and loving embrace. She
belonged to the Only Man Who truly, truly knew how to love the deepest part of her being and she delighted in knowing she could make Him hers and He would really never leave her nor forsake her. She reveled in the knowledge that the gates of hell would never again darken the windows of her soul and shut out the rays of His brilliant light from warming and strengthening her heart.
Cassie was home with the Love she had always truly longed for. The long journey through trials and torments to find Him was over. Now she would walk with Him in Majesty because He promised to clothe her with humility and she would walk in authority and power to crash through the gates of hell surrounding others souls and blocking the warmth and light of His love from reaching and healing and restoring their souls. As long as she attended to her Lover, she knew the rest would all just fall into place and be brought into order.
"Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth as it is in Heaven...." as each heart is conquered by His love and surrenders fully to His
embrace --- Heaven will fill our hearts and His will will be done in Earth. "We have this treasure in earthen vessels ---- Christ in us, the
Hope of Glory"
I John 3:13Do not be surprised, my brothers, if the world hates you. 14We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. Anyone who does not love remains in death. 15Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him. 16This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers."
No lie, it's scary and it's hard to turn from the vanity of the flesh and to forsake all, and I mean all for Christ and to say with Paul, I truly count all things as dung that I may win Him. The hardest battle is always with the vanity and lusts of our minds. May each reader be tremendously blessed at my feeble attempt to portray the struggles and victories of one poor soul and the final refuge found in His embrace. I know it can not speak to all, but to the few it does----simply thank God for the insights He brings to your soul.
To My Creator, God and Jesus My King be all the Glory --- for my deliverance and the setting down of some of it in cyberspace. I trust the Lord will bring those to whom He wishes to speak to crash the gates of hell that may be darkening the windows of your soul. God richly bless in some way all who read
*Excerpted from Compton's Interactive Bible NIV
Copyright (c) 1994, 1995, 1996 SoftKey Multimedia Inc. All Rights Reserved
1. Galatians 5:16
2. John 15:15
3. Romans 5:17
4. Ephesians 2:19
Copyright © 2004 Carol Shaffron aka Shalah Ravah
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i find a little bit of pilgrims progress style in your animating the emotions. do you have any of your childrens stories on this site? have you used that technique in any of those?