This was a spiritual attack, not just a physical one.

From day one I recognized this was not just a physical attack, but a spiritual one. There was no other way I could understand how all this could have happened in the hour and a half I was gone from my house, other than this was a strategically mapped out, carefully plotted ploy by evil powers that live in the supernatural realm and have been given dominion of this world.

What you must understand is that we fight a battle every day. It’s not a battle of flesh and blood, it’s a battle at the supernatural level involving principalities and spiritual forces (Ephesians 6:12). I don’t tell you this to scare you because Jesus promised us as Christians greater is power that is within us than the powers that are around us (1 John 4:4). 

C.S. Lewis writes in The Screwtape Letters that the enemy’s greatest ploy in third world countries is fear and his greatest ploy in first world countries is comfort. He indicates lulling us into comfortable lives as the enemy’s greatest strategy against the spreading of the Gospel in places where people are well off. We don't like to confront the fact that there is a battle going on around us because it jars us out of our comfort.

In college my buddy Kenneth and I used to talk about how we wanted to live such noble, dangerous lives for the Kingdom of God that our names would climb to the top of the enemy’s hit list. I’m not sure I would ever actually pray this, and to be honest when we’d say it out-loud we would always hesitate as we let it set in what that could entail. I always admired the stories of warriors of our faith - William Tyndall, John Wycliffe, John Huss, and Jim Elliott - who sacrificed everything they had including their lives to advance the Gospel here in earth. But, I always admired that kind of faith at a couple arms-length, never sure if I really wanted to embrace that level of intense discomfort for Jesus.

My counselor said this to me shortly after everything happened. “Davey, if you were the enemy and you wanted to stop the groundswell of the work God is doing in your church and in your father in-law’s church, what would you do?” I knew the answer as soon as he asked me. Satan wanted to take us out, derail Jesus’ work in Indy and Elkhart, cause us to grow bitter or frightened - and he intended to do so by taking Amanda from us. Jesus himself said the enemy comes to “steal, kill, and destroy.” 

To be honest, the part of all this I have trouble wrapping my mind around is why God would allow this kind of tragedy to happen to Amanda when He has the power to have protected her and prevented it. I've had to settle on this: I'm not sure I'll ever fully understand why on this side of eternity. 

I also don't think God is intimidated by my questions. I think something beautiful happens in my relationship with God when I ask why and seek for answers. When Weston asks me questions I don't resent it, I encourage it, because asking questions leads to growth and discovery and a closer relationship between the two of us. I believe the same thing happens when I cry out to God with my questions about Amanda.

What I’ve begun to realize is that the greater the potential for impact, the greater (and sometimes the more violent) the opposition. C.S. Lewis wrote this in his book A Grief Observed:

"The greater the love the greater the grief, and the stronger the faith the more savagely will Satan storm its fortress."

In fact let’s look at our perfect example, Jesus. He was the most righteous person who has ever lived. He is not just our model for righteousness but a standard we will never attain, which is why he became our Savior. He offered himself to die in the most savage way possible. In fact, we get the word excruciating from the same root word we get the word cross - "crux." The instrument the enemy used to kill Jesus was the most horrific, bloody, and violent of the day. The stronger the faith the more savagely will Satan storm its fortress.” This was certainly true about Jesus. And think about this, God stood by and watched His Son die this horrific death. WHAT? WHY?

He knew something no one else knew at the time. The enemy took his best shot at Jesus but it actually set Jesus up for a greater victory - to claim for himself our salvation by raising from the dead! You see, God will allow evil enough space to work that it ultimately defeats itself! 

That is exactly what is happening in Indy, Elkhart and all around the world right now because of Amanda’s death. People are coming alive. People are waking up. People are receiving Christ and repenting from their former ways. All because this beautiful, righteous girl stepped into a narrative bigger than herself, one that's not dissimilar from Jesus’. 

Remember the Apostle Paul said in 1 Peter 4:13 we shouldn’t resent our sufferings, "Instead, be very glad--for these trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world."

This whole idea reminds me of Amanda giving birth to Weston. I watched in angst as she struggled through intense labor pains, contractions, breathing and pushing. Every mother reading this knows that labor is one of the most excruciating things you’ll ever have to endure. What’s even more shocking than watching a mom walk through this pain is hearing her say she wants to do it again!! What would cause you to be okay with enduring that level of suffering? Only this one thing: the joy of holding a life in your hands, the joy of kissing your baby for the first time, of squeezing his little hands and swaddling him in your arms. 

Scripture tells us that it was for the joy set in front of Him that Christ went to the cross (Hebrews 12:2). He was willing to walk through intense suffering to experience overwhelming joy. He was willing to endure the cross to receive the crown. 

Somehow in Jesus’ narrative, intense suffering ushers in unspeakable joy. 

I have decided that in the last 45 minutes of her life, whether she knew she was on the cusp of receiving her heavenly crown or not, Jesus empowered Amanda with the courage to walk faithfully and boldly through intense fear and suffering. And now, Amanda is experiencing unimaginable and unspeakable joy! She is now receiving her crown. And back here on Earth new life is springing forth because of the pain she endured.

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