Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Taking It Back

By Maggie Bartlett

During my time as a backpacking guide for Young Life, I learned something profound from our camp directors: taking it back. We talked often about how Satan is quick to strip us of the things that bring us joy and hope, but because we are sons and daughters of the King, we have the authority and power to take back what the enemy stole.

But, what does he steal? Anything. Everything he can permeate. Sometimes this is subconscious—we hand things over to Satan without realizing we are doing it. 

We trade our dreams, our truths and our worth and replace them with doubt, hatred and deception. 

It happens every day and we’ve been doing it since we were young, which means Satan is guarding a lot of treasure. 

“The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy.” (John 10:10)

Thankfully, we know the story doesn’t end there. When Jesus died for us, he plundered the pits of hell and took back what rightfully belonged to him and his people. And because God calls us his own, we have the authority to do the same; to get our truth back. This is hard work. But it’s the hard work we call redemption and reclamation, reconciliation and restoration. We reclaim what is rightfully ours. This also happens every day.

I love fourteeners (mountains in Colorado that are over 14,000 feet). Sometimes, mid-climb when my hamstrings are screaming or mid-descent when my knees are giving out, I wonder why I love fourteeners. But I always end up back on the mountain, at it again, chasing the next summit. Since my husband, Travis, moved here, we’ve conquered seven fourteeners together. On about half of those, we’ve had a wonderful experience. On the others, well, not so much. 

We climbed an early season fourteener this summer. It was supposed to be easy, something to warm up our climbing legs. We came prepared with our gear, water and food. But preparation didn’t seem to matter that day. There was still so much snow, that at one point, my husband fell in up to his shoulders and had to be dug out. The wind knocked us both off our feet multiple times (and we’re not small people) and I fussed at Travis for being too slow. (He waved me off, not fazed by my frustration and continued to climb at his own pace). Then we were separated on the descent, which sent us both into a silent panic as we crafted plans to call search and rescue—all I could think about was how the last time I saw him, I was mean and impatient with him about something so silly. When we finally found each other at the trailhead, we wept. Big wet, “I thought I lost you on an “easy” 14er” tears. Our feet were sopping wet, our hip flexors were throbbing, we were weeping on a dirt road–it was terrible. 

On the way home, we said it would be a long time before we were ready to climb again. But we knew we would need to try again and reclaim what we love about the mountains.

We attempted another climb as summer came to an end. Remembering what I learned as a guide, I was determined to take it back. I wanted the joy of the climb back. I wanted the fun I have with Travis in the wilderness back. I wanted the effervescence of a successful adventure back. I wanted my connection with the Lord through his creation back.

And you know what? We hiked slowly. We stopped about 28 times to gaze up in awe at the unbelievable blanket of stars above us at 4 a.m. We watched the sky change from shades of navy to shades of rose as the sun came up on the ridge. We waited for and pushed each other with patience. Travis took a nap at the summit. We were kind to our knees on the way down. We laughed with each other. We relaxed in hammocks at our campsite.

We got it back. 

It was so redemptive for me and Travis, and me and the wilderness. We reclaimed our treasure. It was a blow to the enemy—he couldn’t slither his way into my marriage to disrupt it and he didn’t have a place in the intimacy I experience with Jesus in the backcountry. He thought he stole it from me, but I took it right back.

What was stolen from you? What do you want back? Big or small. What lie do you believe and own as truth? What did you think was lost forever? What was taken in your marriage, your family, your friendships?

You’re not pretty. You won’t be happy in your marriage again. You’re too much. You’re not enough. That dream will never come true. You’ll never have security. You aren’t wanted. You’re unlovable. Your sin is too great. Your shame defines you. You must rescue everyone. Vulnerability means you’ll get hurt. You can’t tell the truth because they will judge you. You can’t trust anyone. You must do everything yourself. Your heart will never be broken. You’ll never feel joy again. You’re not worthy.

What is the lie? Is it subtle or so loud it’s deafening? 

Take. It. Back. We have the permission, power and authority to take back what the enemy stole. It’s yours. Go get it. 

“When you go out to fight your enemies and you face horses and chariots and an army greater than your own, do not be afraid. The Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, is with you!” (Deuteronomy 20:1)

Maggie Bartlett is a Colorado native, living in Denver with her husband. She works at a marketing agency and loves to write, climb mountains and travel in her free time.

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