Heads Or Tails
“Hello, my name is Deceit!”
Mary shifted to a more comfortable position on her old rocking chair, a half stifled laugh escaping from wrinkled lips. How easy it would be if they really did walk into the church with such an outrageously honest introduction.
She got up and walked around a little, easing the arthritic pain in her knees. The old family Bible lay on a table by the window, catching the light of the afternoon sun. It lay open where she had left off. In Ephesians chapter six. The Armour of God. Mary thought of Nick, a young but discerning Christian who called her ‘his prayer warrior’. She made coffee and with trembling hands placed the tray on the table, anticipating the enjoyment of the doughnuts he usually brought.
Raw emotion ravaged his face as Nick shared the dilemma he faced within the church. The leaders, though godly men and faithful to the Gospel in preaching and in their personal lives, were, sadly, either not gifted with discernment or not aware of the gifting. Nick had been struggling with feelings he couldn’t explain and didn’t particularly like and had turned to Mary, knowing she was the only person who would understand.
“It’s not as if he has done or said anything wrong.” Nick said.”
“I just have this feeling, this sense of him being a stranger to the Gospel, yet he quotes it with authority and preaches the Word of God with a fervour I wish I had. When I look at him my mind says be loving, yet my heart says, beware. I feel a deep desire to peel off his mask.”
An old hymn was playing on the digital radio and Mary’s ageing face lit up as she contemplated the words. ’Rock of Ages cleft for me; let me hide myself in Thee.’ Painful memories triggered unwanted tears. Mistakes made and lessons learned and of the loving kindness of her precious Saviour, as He had walked with her through the fiery trials of faithfulness and trust. Her back ached and she longed to rest, but her concern and love for Nick fired her concentration.
“He walked into church one Sunday morning, strode boldly to the front and gave powerful testimony of his good works and service. The church was filled to capacity that morning and each one sat enthralled at his words. Within a few months he had formed a new Home Group and had begun his ascent into leadership. Every time I looked into his eyes the word ’deceit’ wove intricate patterns into my mind. He didn’t see me as an insignificant middle aged lady, as some did, but focused his attention on making me appear to be a stumbling block to progress. Details aren’t important, but his patience and resourcefulness paid off and he deviously created the illusion to all concerned that I was the problem. Not once did his mask slip.”
Nick sat thoughtfully listening, recognising some of what Mary was sharing. His own present experiences held too many similarities to be anything but the truth. He suddenly felt helpless, not welcoming the thoughts that were forming in his mind.
“When God showed me the time was right I simply left the church, believing my prayers would be more effective from a distance. At that time Jesus had drawn closer to me than ever before and I knew the battle was His, not mine. I found I could pray more effectively out of the situation and despite the heartache there was a new and unexplainable joy bubbling in my soul. For months I prayed alone. Then one afternoon, as I sat and watched God paint a glorious rainbow across the rain soaked sky, an old friend from church dropped in for coffee and remorsefully shared experiences with me. She had seen the mask slip and had been led to seek me out. That was the beginning of many shared battles. The enemy creeps in and winds his deceit around hearts that are simply seeking to learn more of God. He can damage a church but he can never have the victory. That belongs to the Lord and He will always raise up willing prayer warriors.”
The dark stealthy shadows of approaching dusk crept across the room as Nick rose from his chair and knelt at Mary’s side. Heads bowed in thankful prayer as one more willing prayer warrior entered the battle against the insidious enemies who hid behind masks of innocence.
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