The song “Rooster” by Alice in Chains was about guitarist Jerry Cantrell’s dad – a Vietnam vet who had the nickname, “Rooster,” due to the way his hair would stand up when he was a kid. One of my all-time favorites by Alice in Chains, “Rooster” is about memories, flashbacks, and life endured as a result of the experience of two tours in Vietnam. Jerry Cantrell described the song as the beginning of a healing process between him and his dad, for all the hurt and pain inflicted as a result of the Vietnam War.
Even though the song is clearly about the difficulties and trials of war, there is also an overcoming spirit present in the lyrics. The song opens with the lyrics that serve as the title of this blog: “Ain’t found a way to kill me yet.” Despite all his dad went through, the war did not take him out – and that is conveyed in this song.
In the army of the Lord, sometimes I think we fall too easily. We want God to come in and do all the heavy lifting for us. We don’t want to have to go through things that might change our situation or might, ultimately, change us. We want to have a testimony that makes people oooh and ahhh, but we don’t want to go through the test, trial, and difficulty that creates that testimony. Unlike the military vets who did what they had to do in various wars and ages to get through, we don’t want to be people who just won’t die. We don’t want to do what we have to do to keep going, even when it’s hard.
I have often said ministers are people who “go through” things. We go through so we can teach and impact the lives of all of you. I am one of the types who is more like some of these older vets than I might like to admit: I tend to be quiet about what I go through. I don’t like to be perceived as whining or complaining. In this day and age, I almost can’t stand any more of the endlessly perky, positive nonsense people spout off at me when I do go through something, simply because they don’t want to hear about it. I hate feeling brushed off or like what I go through isn’t being taken seriously because it’s not what someone wants to hear. I am, perhaps, one of the greatest advocates of understanding; trying to give people what is needed as a better witness than being obnoxious and condescending. The negative side to my lack of sharing is that people don’t often know what I am going through. So when I was prompted by the Spirit to share the events of the last couple of weeks, I wasn’t sure why – but then I realized, it’s because the enemy “Ain’t found a way to kill me yet.” I am writing this to testify – not to complain. I have had awesome victory thus far and God continues to give it. God said it was time to share and try these matters in the court of the Kingdom – where we know we always come forth victorious. So here we are saints: the overcoming by the blood of the Lamb AND testimony. Today, my testimony is – “He ain’t found a way to kill me yet!”
The past few weeks, I have had certain things in mind to accomplish. We are approaching the end of the year and 2013 is fast-coming. There are many things to plan for, and many things coming up. As a result, I set myself certain assignments and goals to have completed by the end of the year, beginning the last week in October. So far, I have finished a total of none of the assignments and goals. Other things that are just as important and yet more urgent keep rising up and requiring my time. While I know all is within God’s timing, not being able to do what I want to do is extraordinarily irritating to me. There is so much work to do, and I just desire to complete. I have writing to do, the Women of Power Awards 2012 edition of the magazine needs to come out, there is editing to do, books to move along in publishing, sermons to write, and websites to build. When there is so much to do, I hate the feeling that not only am I behind, I am not accomplishing anything. In the middle of the distractions, my dog got an ear infection and needed to go to the vet; the car was hit in the parking lot of the apartment complex by a hit-and-run driver; several people wanted ridiculous, last-minute orders for Rose of Sharon that were impossible to fill, only to decide that because I couldn’t have something made to their custom specifications ready in five hours or less, they didn’t want them; and exhaustion, exhaustion, exhaustion. Then we move to the real nonsense.
First, I encountered total and utter nonsense from someone who had been under this ministry. Let’s be honest: she received a favor from being under this ministry. She received favor with people who didn’t even like her much – and that was not a particular secret, that she was someone who was tolerated – simply because she was under this ministry. She decided to leave this ministry, the favor God gave her ended, and she decided to try and run her mouth all over the internet, hit up others covered by this ministry, told lies, and lest I forget, also saw fit to spend several weeks harassing me via email. I am so thankful to the constant faithfulness of those who know me and this ministry, who stood up for what they knew was true, and who kept me solid during that time. I knew what had to be done, I knew how I had to handle it, and I thank everyone who stood by with such awesome support. This attack of the enemy was purposed to make me depressed and discouraged. As a leader, it never “feels good” to watch someone you have invested time in rebel against both God’s order and you personally. It did not depress me. What it did instead was give me needed confidence in God carrying me through this apostolic work, and assurance that He is with me in needed times of leadership decisions.
Approximately five days after the last email arrived, I was in a conference in Georgia, to which I signed on Facebook to invite people to participate by Skype. On one of the fan pages, I received a particularly venomous message from someone who wanted to be covered by the ministry over a year ago, and is apparently still very angry that she didn’t get her way. She didn’t get her way because me covering her was to come with a condition: she would require me to abandon ALL my friends, all the people I have worked with for years, and yes, even other people I covered – to cover her. She wanted to make a devil’s deal – if I would but bow down to her requests, she’d make sure money was no object for my ministry. As if it was not bad enough that she saw fit to slander both myself and someone else under this ministry all over Facebook a year ago, she was now making new threats, spewing new venom, and acting the total fool now, a year later.
It was tempting to respond, even with something spiritual or holy. First of all, what is wrong with someone that they are STILL so angry about not getting their own way over a YEAR later? This is a woman who is approximately FORTY years old – not a baby. Get over it, already! This was a woman who claimed in her post (which Facebook either removed or ordered her to remove, as so many of us reported it as being abusive) to be one who is willing to do anything to help others and serve others! I resisted the temptation and said nothing – and discovered later that her attempt was most likely a move to try and engage me in discussion so she could put it all over her Facebook page. That is her new defense move: try and discredit and post things all over her page. She wanted to hurt my feelings and generate a response. Instead, she got silence and reminded me that God is working for my good, and getting ready to move me to the level prophesied.
Then on November 17th on the way to Durham, my GPS got me lost. It took me a weird and unfamiliar way, and confused me with directions. I refused to be upset, because I do not like to be late, and on account of its strange directions, I almost was. God brought down the house in Durham that day and God got the victory.
Then there was last weekend – a purposed, appointed, and anointed weekend by which the enemy saw fit to try and take me out. This weekend I had the awesome experience of going to Burlington, NC to minister for Faith Builders International Church. We had such a powerful time I went not just Saturday, but Sunday night as well. Getting to the event, however, was not the easiest task in the world, either night. The enemy worked his opposition so hard and fast, it was difficult to see it coming. On Saturday night, the GPS took me a way that it normally would not have, and the way tacked on almost thirty additional minutes on a forty-minute trip. The route was full of bad drivers who kept throwing on their brakes. For example, one threw their brakes on at a green light, causing the entire contents of the car to fly forward – including my securely closed ministry sale items tote, my purse, shoes, and preaching bag. I resolved to get on I-40 West at the next opportunity and get off these crazy back roads. From there on, the trip was smooth sailing, arrival was prompt, and things were fine.
The next night, however, the enemy upped the ante. The returning home holiday weekend traffic had I-85 South so backed up, I was concerned about being late. I got off the Elfland exit to avoid the intensity of the crawling traffic. While attempting to pass a car that was not going the speed limit (in a legal passing zone), a speeding car comes out of nowhere and almost hits my car head-on in what would have been a serious head-on collision. The car behind the speeding car (which makes me wonder why the car was not stopped) was a deputy of the county sheriff’s office. Instead of pursuing the speeding car, he decides to pursue me – almost three miles later. He was a definite Barney Fife type – young, over-zealous, and in love with the sight of his own gun and badge. Not only was he rude, he harassed me, attempted to intimidate me, gave me a hard time and a minimal ticket – telling me that he could have given me one for something else, but would just give me this, as if he was doing me a favor. He was clearly angry that he couldn’t charge me with something more desirable or more “macho,” so he’d just be as cocky as he could be. He didn’t know that I’m not from these parts originally and I don’t do cocky men real well – and I thank God that He kept me through this, because I do not take to being hustled, harassed, or pushed around kindly. His attitude galled me so badly I dropped that I used to work for a lawyer – he didn’t need to know where or when I did that. And, while we are discussing this – let’s get this straight – I almost get killed by someone speeding when I was within the bounds of the law – and I am the one you think should get the ticket? I was appalled to learn from the church and a visitor to the church that apparently police harassment is a very common thing for churches and ministers in these parts – we are forced to fight the cities to get or stay in our buildings, we face citations and complaints about noise – and people want to sing the validity of the police departments to me? This cop that I encountered was such a big man, he had to hustle and push around a tiny, little woman – a minister at that – because he could. So is this why police join the force today, to harass people? No I’ll tell you what, if you’re such a big man and you want to hustle someone, you go find yourself a pimp or a man who is beating his wife to go take your anger out on and you stop harassing God’s people. Go bust down the door of a meth lab and show how really “macho” you are. All this behavior does is incur the wrath of God upon people who use power to intimidate and to threaten. I must say this experience makes me understand more and more why my ancestors turned to themselves. As much as we can laugh at mafia or gang jokes, they didn’t start to be about a joke: they started to protect their own because they couldn’t rely on law enforcement to take care of them. The enemy tried to take me out. He tried then to distract me with a nasty officer and an expensive ticket.
Not going to work.
Then on Monday, I had a doctor’s follow-up appointment that I was already leery about. Before I went for the matter at hand, I had been to a doctor approximately two times in the past fifteen years. I simply do not believe in relying on medical care (I would much rather rely on God) and the only times I have gone, it was because it was absolutely necessary. This most recent time was one of those times when going was completely necessary, and, of course, I have to have a doctor who doesn’t know what end is up. It was obvious both at this visit and the last one she had no idea what the problem was, and she wanted to “test” me out on various meds to see what worked and if that made it more possible. When she brought in her THIRD consult for the problem, she brought in a man who apparently isn’t brushing his teeth until they free Tibet. He was cocky and condescending, and talked to me like I was five years old. He wanted to put me on an oral medication because if I responded to it – in his words – then “they would know for certain what I had.” Excuse me? The Spirit rose up within me and told them that I refused to go on that medication and I REFUSED to become a lab experiment. He smiled at me with this wide, annoyed smile because I knew what they were thinking – I was becoming a belligerent, hostile patient. The main doctor wrote me a prescription and then I left – and I had no intention to return or fill the prescription. She came after me, telling me that she just looked at my chart and realized she prescribed me a medication to which I was allergic!!!!!!!! She gave me a referral and I left – horrified beyond no means. When I got home, I looked up the oral medication they wanted to prescribe and learned that was also in the family of medication to which I am allergic, and I should also not be on due to a genetic condition I have. Being on the medication I refused to take could have easily killed me.
There were other things: a shirt and collar I ordered was delivered to the wrong place, and had to be hunted down; a birthday present for my upcoming birthday (ordered from Family Christian Stores, who I will never use, nor recommend again) turned into a total fiasco; nonsense and difficulties; and beyond, continued to exist.
The past few weeks have taught me that warfare is about strategy – it’s about what we do or do not do, and when we do or do not do it. Waiting is not a lack of movement – it is a strategy. Silence is not a lack of a move – it is a strategy to wait for instructions. The reason the spiritual life is spoken of as a battle is because everything we do relates to strategy, and everything we do has a purpose, a move, a point. If we want to be victorious, we need to pay more attention to how we move in the battle. If you recognize the battle, you need to recognize that it is time to focus – not time to be all over the place, a constant problem or constantly unable to handle things. While you try to process your emotions and feelings, the enemy is battling in a totally different way, working on a new strategy to get to you. While we sit around and try to lament over this, that, or something else, the enemy is plotting and we’re missing it!!! Our yes needs to mean yes, and our no needs to mean no. Stop doing the things you claim to hate. You are either in this, or you aren’t. If you’re not, it’s time to get out of the way. Nobody will chase after you anymore because our warfare demands that we recognize strategy in distraction. As we wait for our new assignments, next direction, and fight the battles God has given to us, we cannot sit around distracted by every wind that comes up. We have enough things to fight and enough problems. Just like the vets who, during war, have to separate at different points: those who make it through basic training from those who do not, those who can handle combat, from those who cannot; and those who are AWOL from those who are not, we too need to separate ourselves from those who just can’t fight this thing through to the very end.
Strategy. We overcome the enemy by strategy. We win the war by strategy. If we want to be victorious, le’s pay more attention to our strategy. Our testimonies should be victories of strategy – not defeat. It is my prayer that as we come to the close of one year and the open of another, we will take the time to do inventory on our strategies: what needs to change, what needs to improve, what we need to do better, and what we can do more of. If we always do what we’ve always done, then we’ll always get what we always got. Pay attention to strategy – because if the enemy ain’t found a way to kill you, yet – you need to do more than just face defeat after defeat in battle. Let’s become victorious – not defeated. Just because we’re still here doesn’t make us victorious! Let YOUR victory lie in having what God wants you to have AND in you still being here – and the enemy being able to say, “ya know, he (or she) ain’t gonna die.”
“Here they come to snuff the rooster, aww yeah
Yeah here come the rooster, yeah
You know he ain’t gonna die
No, no, no ya know he ain’t gonna die”
(“Rooster,” Alice In Chains)
Writing (c) 2012 Lee Ann B. Marino. All rights reserved.