For three weeks now I have seen photos of TARGETS everywhere. Either the store Target has been highlighted to me more than usual, or I happen to see a dart board or archery target in nearly every TV show, movie or ad that is in front of me. I thought perhaps it was because it's the Christmas season and perhaps there's some sort of subliminal message for the Target store this year (but let's be honest - the store doesn't need to subliminally lure me through their doors when I tend to spend way more than I expected like 100% of the time I shop there). I realized quickly though that God is always speaking, and one of the many ways that He speaks to me is through repetition like this.
When I realized that God was indeed inviting me into something, I began to soak in His Presence and ask Him what it was that He wanted to show me through these targets. While in prayer, I saw a picture in my mind of a target on my head, as well as a larger one on my back. It actually took my breath away for a moment as I began to understand that the Lord was showing me that I actually had a TARGET ON MY BACK in this season.
The target on my head was different. It was much smaller in size, but the Holy Spirit also quickened to me that I have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16). He reminded me that I wear the helmet of salvation (Ephesians 6:17). The helmet of salvation makes more sense when one truly understands the substance of their salvation. The helmet protects the head (the mind) and the helmet of salvation is the thing that protects our minds from the lies of the enemy that would say that we are anything less than a son/daughter who has a new nature through Christ. I felt the Lord say that as long as I was dwelling on my IDENTITY, which is that I look like Jesus (1 John 4:17), then the target on my head would be destroyed because it was powerless.
The target on my back was different, however. It was larger and I felt more vulnerable and exposed with it there. After seeing this picture, I began to search scripture for things that protect my back. I know that the weapons of my warfare are not carnal but mighty for pulling down strongholds (2 Corinthians 10:4), which means that my weapons are TRUTHS. Ephesians 6 talks about the armor of God, but none of those things fully protect the back. I had a tinge of fear as I realized again just how big the target was, although the Holy Spirit reminded me that no weapon formed against me will prosper (Isaiah 54:17). No weapon is going to prosper, but there will still be weapons forged against me!
I took my fears back to the Lord and He showed me another picture of myself - fully armed and ready - but I had backed up against His legs. All I saw in the picture was me in the armor of God, leaning my back up against the legs of a much bigger, much stronger Father who towered far above me and far above the fight. I felt a trembling awe and a holy fear because of the power and magnificence of the God who stood up above me. God reminded me a few days later (through a dear friend) that the Bible says that God is my REAR GUARD: "For you shall not go out in haste, and you shall not go in flight, for the LORD will go before you, and the God of Israel will be your rear guard" (Isaiah 52:12).
So what does one do when they know that they've got a target on their back? We know that the devil roams about, seeking to devour (1 Peter 5:8), but we also know that we are seated with Christ in Heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6) and thus have authority!
With this in mind, here's the strategy the Lord gave ME for the targets in this season. Keep in mind this is the strategy that He gave to me personally, but I'm sharing it with you so that you can be encouraged and inspired as you seek Him for your own personal tactics.
1. Be sober-minded and alert. When you feel the attack against you, the last things that you want to do is either "lay down and take it," or fill your mind and body with garbage so that you are not fully alert. "Garbage" could be anything from too much TV or media, to ongoing negative news, to even junk food or alcohol. We DO have victory, but we are indeed in a real war, and we have to make wise choices to ensure we are in step with everything the Holy Spirit would have us do, pray or say. Obedience to His voice is key, and it's easier to hear Him when there's nothing else in the way.
2. Know your identity. I've said it before and I'll say it again: I can reference scripture after scripture about our new identity and transformation in Christ, but if I'm not confessing them aloud when the devil tries to tell me otherwise, then I am engaging with his lies. We must know who we are in Christ, we must stand strong on the fact that there is no condemnation/guilt/shame for us (Romans 8:1). It is also very important to repent of any lies you've believed that may have influenced your choices. I am convinced that a born-again believer only makes sinful choices because they BELIEVE LIES. Eve ate of the fruit and gave it to Adam because they believed the lie that they would be like God (Genesis 3), but they had been made in the image of God so they already were like God (Genesis 1:27).
3. Back up against God and allow Him to be your rear guard. Easy to say, but what does that look like practically? Here's what I do (again, ask God for your own unique strategy). I first of all put on my favorite worship music, and start by taking the time to just sing to Him. I let the words sink in and really meditate on the meaning. Then I pray in the Spirit for a bit, then I literally envision in my mind that I am leaning by back up against Him. Sometimes it's His legs like the picture I mentioned before, and sometimes it's in His lap. Then I begin to declare aloud some of the scriptures that God has given me regarding fear or facing an army (such as Psalm 27, Psalm 34, Psalm 91, Isaiah 54:17). I usually always end my Bible reading/declarations with Romans 8 so that I can also remember what Christ has done for me. Then...once the unexplainable peace has settled into my heart and mind....I just leave it with Him and go about my day in complete trust. And if the fear or anxiety hits me again, I'll go through those steps again (or I'll just hit the scripture straight on). I'll do these things as many times as it takes for as long as it takes until my heart and mind come into complete agreement with what God says.
4. Use your armor - wield your sword and use that shield. I pretty much hit on this in number three (above) when I talked about using scripture. On a number of occasions I've heard Bill Johnson talk about a cool fact regarding the sword that I think would be encouraging to mention. Apparently in the days that Paul wrote to the Ephesians about the armor of God, the soldiers used small daggers and not the long, flashy swords that we would see from the Dark Ages. The daggers were quite small, and used to literally DIG OUT ARROWS from their flesh when the arrows got past the shield. Paul calls this the "sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God" (Ephesians 6:17). We can use scripture to dig out the lies!!!
5. Remember that you have authority, and all things are UNDER His feet (thus under yours too). When the target seems heavy and you start to find yourself feeling anxious, you have to remember that you have, by faith, been given all authority as a CHILD of God. You are seated WITH HIM in Heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6) and you have inheritance and access to Heaven. Sometimes we forget to just USE our authority! The Name of Jesus is powerful, and we can overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony [in Him] (Revelation 12:11).
One thing that is important to remember for anyone who is born-again: YOU SIT IN A PLACE OF VICTORY. Our battle is not against flesh and blood, nor is it dark versus light. Jesus already won. Yes, we have a very real enemy and we MUST use our weapons to fight.... BUT we have victory because Jesus is victorious. Ephesians 1:22 says "And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all." We are not UNDER the darkness, fighting and scratching around for breakthrough. We are IN CHRIST, and His feet are ABOVE every power, every principality, every dark thing. We are not puny little Christians and we must never see ourselves as such.
If you feel like you have a target on your back and you've done everything that the Lord has told you to do (resembling the list I just gave), then be sure to ask trusted friends to be in prayer for you as well. Galatians 6:2 says that we are to bear one another's burdens. I have prayer warriors and intercessors that love to pray for people, and who find great joy in doing so. When I'm trying to do it all on my own and I feel like I'm getting smashed, it's actually stealing from them the blessing of getting to walk with me through it if I don't ask for their help.
Finally, if you DO have a target on your back - BE ENCOURAGED. You're probably doing something very right. Grab your armor, back up against the Father and let Him smother you with love during this season. Nothing can separate you from His love (Romans 8:31-39).