At my church camp, we play a game called the Flour War. It's basically Capture the Flag, but with a little twist: each team is given "flour bombs" (tissues rolled up like sleeping bags with flour inside them) to throw at the opposing team and "kill" them. Oftentimes there are cars parked all along the battlefield, some belonging to the Blue Team (or the winning team) and some belonging to the Green Team (the losing team). Before we started last year, our Blue Team general told us to use the other team's barriers against them. While they set up their cars to hide behind and defend themselves, we can use the cars offensively to sneak closer to the enemy flag.
Obviously, our war with Satan is much more serious than a church camp Flour War, but there are some similarities. First, there is a war, and as Christians we are soldiers of Christ. We don't get involved with the sins of the world because we want to please our "general", Christ (2 Timothy 2:3-4). The other "team," Satan wants to win just as bad as we do; he is not a passive enemy. He can sneak around in the woods of our lives just as easily as a person playing capture the flag, so we have to be on the lookout for him (1 Peter 5:8). God has given us both an offensive weapon, His Word, and defensive armor in the form of faith, truth, righteousness, and salvation (Eph. 6:10-17). And just like in the Flour War, we can use the Devil's barriers against him.
How often does God use bad things for good? Look at the story of Joseph in Genesis. Joseph was sold into Egyptian slavery by his own brothers, then put in jail for a crime he did not commit. Personally, I can't think of many situations worse than that. However, the story doesn't end there. God used his awful situation to bring Joseph up to second in command in the most powerful nation in the world at the time. Look at Jesus' crucifixion. No event in history can possibly compare with the horror and agony caused the day men killed the Son of God. But through that event comes the greatest blessing we have ever received: forgiveness and salvation from sin! If we allow him to work in our lives, God can turn these bad things, things we would see as the Devil's barriers, into good things that we can use to work against Satan.
The first one to come to my mind is health problems. I have a very good friend who has a LOT of health problems and she's a teenager about my age. You have no idea how much I admire her. Personally, in her situation, I would have given up hope. I would have been mad at God for all my struggles. But my friend uses her health problems to reach people. Her joyful attitude alone is enough to make people wonder why she's different, giving her the opportunity to lead them to Christ. But she doesn't just take opportunities, she MAKES opportunities. When she's in the hospital, she goes to visit other kids who are sick and encourage them. She is the PERFECT example of using barriers for God and against the Devil.
However, not all of us have health problems. A more common barrier is technology. Now, I say "barrier"; but technology is in itself a neutral thing. Just like the cars during Flour War, its "goodness" or "badness" all depends on who's using it and what we're using it for. The first thing that comes to my mind is Facebook. I am a self-proclaimed Facebookaholic. Chances are you got to this blog by clicking a link on my Facebook page. Like I said, Facebook is a neutral thing, but how much time do we spend on it? Are we wasting valuable time we could be using for the Lord? Do we spend more time harvesting for the Lord, or harvesting our crops on Farmville? Do we spend more time "facing the Book" than on Facebook?* Not only this, but there are several quizzes and applications on Facebook that Christians simply should not be a part of. One in particular that bugs me is Mafia Wars. I'm not saying you're going to hell if you play Mafia Wars or anything, but it's a game all about killing and stealing. As Christians, can we really be okay with that?
However, we can use Facebook for such great GOOD in the Lord's church. I have 404 friends. That's FOUR HUNDRED AND FOUR PEOPLE that see my statuses every day (in theory). That's how many people I can potentially affect. Pretty awesome, huh? So if I post a Scripture on my status, 404 people will see it. Some of those 404 people aren't Christians, so I'm potentially reaching out to them. Some of those 404 people ARE Christians, so I'm potentially encouraging them. And all I have to do is type a few words. Like I said, pretty awesome. And not only do people see what we do post, they see what we DON'T post. If any of you have non-Christian friends, you've probably seen some pretty raunchy things on people's Facebooks. Non-Christian people are going to wonder why we don't curse, why we don't post inappropriate pictures, why we don't take dirty quizzes. And that gives us an opportunity to TELL them why-- because Christ has saved us and we're living our lives for Him. (My suggestion for friends who post dirty things on Facebook-- we don't need to see that. However, they do need to see what we have to say about God. Unless they comment on your statuses or post on your wall a lot, I would hide them instead of deleting them. That way, you don't have to see their inappropriate postings, but THEY can see the Scriptures you post and your example and you can potentially lead them to Christ.)
In a completely different way, hard times in our lives can also be barriers. However, when we're at our lowest, God is at His highest. These hard times in our lives, these tests of our faith, lead to endurance (James 1:3). We have to keep in mind at all times that WE'RE CHRISTIANS. Even during hard times. That means that God is going to take care of us as long as we live for Him (Matthew 6:25-34). Hard times are another opportunity to praise God and thank Him for His goodness and His care. It seems to me the times we need to rely on God most are the times we try to rely on ourselves, but we can't do that! The more we need Him, the more He takes care of us if we'll let Him, and the more reason we have to praise and thank Him!
Henry Ford once said, "Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off the goal." The trick is to not see barriers as barriers, but to see them as assets to our faith and the faith of others. If we keep our eyes on God and our goal, Heaven, everything else will be okay.
"And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." -Romans 8:28
~green eyes :)