During the Advent season, I was reading a book by Ann Voskamp titled The Greatest Gift. There was a chapter about the contest between Elijah and the prophets of Baal.
You know the story; each prepared an offering, and whose god would set it on fire is the true one. Unsurprisingly, Baal’s prophets were dancing and chanting, but nothing happened. Then Elijah called upon the Lord (he even poured buckets of water over the offering to make it even more improbable to burn), and the Lord set the bull ablaze. Wow!
At the end of the chapter, Ann suggested a few questions to ponder and to dig deeper. She asked the readers to think about “baals” in our lives, the idols we worship besides God.
I immediately thought about fear. I was (and I often still am) struggling with fear and anxiety, and it crippled my life. How many things I missed because I was so afraid!
As I was pondering about this, a strange thought came into my mind. In my native language, the sentence “I was afraid” is translated as “Ja som sa bál.” And the verb “bál” (past tense of “afraid”) is pronounced just like the name Baal! So every time I succumbed to fear, I was actually trusting the spirit of Baal rather than the Spirit of God.
But who it is, this Baal?
Remember the Scooby Doo cartoons? Every episode was the same: the Scooby Doo team was investigating some spooky monster. And when they finally caught it, they removed its mask.
And under the mask, it was always just an ordinary person.
In the same way, every false god – be it Baal, other religion, or even every false idol of our worship – is just a mask. And underneath it, it’s always the same one, the Devil.
Oh, and don’t forget: we don’t have to worship an idol just by dancing around a pole. Worship can be every activity, feeling, or a person that holds our trust and attention more than our Lord.
As Ann wrote, in every moment we either worship God or some kind of Baal.
Unfortunately, Satan is the master of deception, and for each of us he came up with different masks. You see, he knows precisely where your soft spots are, and he shoots his arrows right into the middle.
For me, I’ve always struggled with feelings of “not being enough.” I was that kid who wanted to score 101% on every test, not just for grades; I wanted good grades so my parents and teachers would be pleased with me. Friends joke that I’m a Canadian in spirit; I obey every rule because I guess I want to be a good and perfect citizen. This affected my relationship with God in the same way; I was in deep anguish of not being good enough for Him, and being a disappointment. My Catholic upbringing, of course, worsened this fear.
Finally, about two years ago, I learned about the rapture, and a whole new world was opened!
I began to read the Word and discovered the truths I’ve been missing for so long. I didn’t have to earn my way to heaven because Christ shed His blood that covers ALL sins. His imminent coming and my heavenly citizenship became my unshakable, blessed Hope that no one can steal away.
Now, since Satan could no more deceive me with the lies of not making it to heaven, he had to use something different; and yet, it was the same strategy of fear.
When he realized he cannot destroy my future, he decided to destroy my present.
He whispered, “Okay, so you’ll come to heaven. But do you really think you’ll actually receive any prize? You didn’t lead anyone to Christ! You didn’t go to Africa to feed the starving children. You did nothing worthy of mentioning. Jesus will look at you, and he will be so angry – go away, you lazy and wicked servant! In fact, you should not be happy about the Rapture. You should worry and be afraid, for this terrible judgment awaits you by the One you trust the most. You are a DISSAPOINTMENT, and He will let you know about it.”
And here we go again. It’s always the same thing – fear.
It seems the more closely you walk with God, the fiercer attacks would come; for even though he preys on every human, he burns with anger and hatred especially towards Christians. In the end, all our struggles and all struggles on the Earth and Heaven are boiled down to the ultimate fight of Satan against God. But we can choose whose spirit we will listen to and follow.
Friends, we know that the evil will not prevail, because we have this promised. So sharpen your swords and polish your shields; and when fear crawls up your heart, always remember who it is under the mask.
“Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” (Ephesians 6:13-17).
It might be nothing new under the Sun, but this direct connection of fear to Baal (Satan in disguise) helped me to become more prepared when he attacks. Yes, there are times when I am barely holding on by a thread. These are, after all, the perilous end times we were warned of, but unmasking the enemy is the first step to victory. And then, keep holding on to the promises of the Scripture, the most effective weapon there is. He can’t stand it!
For example, that lie about not receiving anything during the Bema seat of Christ is wrong. We, who look forward to His appearing, are actually promised crowns!
And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing” (2 Timothy 4:8).
Isn’t that just marvelous? I’m so excited!
And how awesome is it that the Scripture (our sword) will cut through every other lie that keeps worrying us.
Fortunately, the day is coming when we will no longer need to fight; and I’m so, so looking forward to seeing all of you one day! I feel so lonely in here…
In the meantime, God bless you, and may He be the light upon your path.