Shortly before I left for Zimbabwe in 2006 I had a dream. A very vivid and haunting dream.
I was with a group of my friends in something like an orchard. Actually, the setting actually is what I would imagine the Garden of Eden to look like. Lots of full and green trees.
Although the surroundings seemed peaceful, my dream was anything but. There was a snake, a very large snake, slithering through the trees. In the dream it definitely looked like a snake. The huge kind of snake that you see versions of in museums and zoos because of their unbelievable size. But as slithery and snake like that it was, there was a human quality about it.
The snake's desire was clear; he was there to devour and destroy life. With his desire clear, my only ambition in the dream was to keep my friends alive. Every ounce of energy I had, everything I did, was for survival.
The beautiful fullness of the trees gave the snake a good disguise. We would run and hide and think were were safe, but as soon as we would let our guard down, that snake would poke its head out to attack.
In my dream I took on the role of protector. I would jump in front of the person in danger, and fight the snake until he would resign. Then we would run for safety, to once again find the snake there waiting.
It seemed like this went on for days, running and running, fighting and fighting, to protect my friends from the snake. Until finally, in my dream, one of my friends grabbed me by the shoulders, looking me straight in the eyes. As she began to speak, I saw the snake slithering down from a tree behind her, and it, too, was looking me in the eyes.
My focus now on the snake, I tried to escape from her grasp. I needed to protect her from the serpant. Instead she held on tight, shook me back to attention, and said, these exact words,
"Rebecca, don't you see? The snake isn't after us. It wants you."
And with those haunting words, I awoke.
The verse that immediately came to mind was Luke 10:19.
I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power if the enemy; nothing will harm you.
I knew to expect spiritual warfare going into a country where satan had claimed the land, the president and the government for himself.
But this dream shook me, and it warned me.
The thing about spiritual warfare is that it uses disguise. It can come in many shapes and forms. I have found that often times I spend much energy putting my guard up in areas I expect to find attack.
And while my focus is on those areas, a battle is being waged against me that I have not fought back against, because I have not recognized it.
The serpant is sneaky. He slithers through the lush green trees.
I went to Zimbabwe covered in prayer. I set up my guard against lonliness, pride, discouragment, helplessness, and fear.
And then three weeks after my arrival, as I was hitting my stride and the relational wheels had been set in motion, I came down with malaria.
And it held me down.
I found that every ounce of energy I had was used for survival. The next two weeks were a daze. High fevers and severe dehydration caused my mind to be jumbled.
One night, when I was at my worst, I stumbled to the bathroom in the dark without shoes. An instinctive warning shreiked through my body, and physically stopped me. I fumbled for a flashlight, and at my feet was a centipede. Not a normal centipede, the largest one I have ever seen. A centipede with plenty of poison to easily kill me in my weakened condition. As I moved away to find something to kill it with, it disappeared.
My friends turned my room upside down and inside out to find that centipede, and never found it.
A couple days later Tecla physically forced me outside to get fresh air. I was so sick, and so cold, I had stayed under the covers for a good week. Although it was well over 100 degrees, I sat on a bench in the sunlight shivering. As Tecla stood and talked to me, her face changed to restrained panic. She pulled me up and walked me several feet away. It wasn't until a few minutes later, when they were removing the nest, that I saw the swarm of wasps that had formed near where my head was. Tecla said she is sure the nest formed and the wasps appeared right in front of her, as she stood there talking to me.
It was that day I realized that I had been holding Luke 10:19 close to my heart and constantly in my mind, but I was translating it metaphorically, when in my situation I needed to be taking it literally as well.
I was suddenly aware that Satan's attack on me was physical. He did not just want to wear me down spiritually. He physically wanted to destroy me. He wanted me dead. But God literally has given me authority to trample on snakes and scorpions, mosquitos and centipedes, and even wasps.
I literally encountered deadly snakes and scorpions. I encountered many things that Satan wanted to use to wipe me out. But God protected me. He prepared me for war and armed me for battle.
I put my faith in an ever-loving and all-powerful God. I knew he had me in Zimbabwe for a purpose. In faith I claimed his authority over my life. I stopped living for mere survival, and lived in abundance and joy.
As I plan to return to Zimbabwe, I am arming up for battle once again. I do not know how Satan will disguise himself, but I ask that you would join in covering me in prayer.
Pray that I would be armed with spiritual discernment and clarity of mind.
I would be so honored if you would stand with me in this way, claiming authority over the schemes of the serpant.
It is the most important role you can play.