Last night, I arrived home, pumped up and full of faith after an amazing Cherish Conference. We and a group of 7,500 other women met in Leeds Arena, to sing our hearts out in worship and get built up, ready to do life again. And then just as I was about to sink gratefully into a waiting bed, a text pinged in. It was a news report from a friend, with a note; ‘something’s going on in London’.
I grabbed my iPad, logged onto Sky News and watched in horror, as details began to slowly leak in. I shared the news on work’s Social Media accounts, urging people to pray and then I began to pray myself. I was praying for all the chaos, for people who needed help, for the emergency services, and for the people who were about to be told the worst news in the world. In moments like this, how else can you pray?
My mind flicked back to the victory cry of so many women in Leeds Arena just the night before, to various speakers I’ve heard recently, who have spoken of a coming revival. And I thought too, about the Lord of the Rings.
Yes, I realise that’s a strange thing to say, but bear with me here. It’s fair to say that I’m not a fan of fantasy and the Lord of the Rings movies would have completely passed me by, had I not read an article about the Christian allegory embedded in the books. After watching the first movie instalment with the family one Christmastime, I was hooked. And one scene in particular has always stuck with me.
To put it into context, Gandalf the wise wizard is helping the group to escape up a long stone precipice, hotly pursued by a fiery howling pit monster. The evil beast is closing in on them, claiming territory, threatening to overtake and demolish everything around them.
And yet, even though he’s just one man (one tired, quite old man at that!), he turns around to face this roaring phantom and he stands his ground.
In that moment, he knows exactly what he has to do. He calls upon the greatest power he has ever known and staring this howling, vicious monster in the face, he bellows;
YOU SHALL NOT PASS.
He raises his sword as the monster towers over him, breathing volcanic flames, literally about to consume him. He again roars;
YOU SHALL NOT PASS
And in a moment, as Gandalf calls upon a power beyond himself, the beast suddenly looks confused and startled, it starts to shrink back…and well, there’s a clip below if you want to know what happens next.
And so that’s why today, in the middle of yet more horrific news, I was thinking about revival and the Holy Spirit and women gathering together in arenas and yes, also, the Lord of the Rings.
Our country has been hit three times in three months, by a vicious, out-of-control beast that is, on the surface, way, way bigger than us. Lives have been destroyed, communities devastated. This spiritual power is seeking to consume, to overtake and if you believe everything you read, it appears to be on a winning streak. We have our weapons of defiance and British resolve, but there seems to be an unspoken acknowledgment that we can’t really stop it.
But oh, I beg to differ.
You see, though evil swaggers and boasts and mocks, it has never, ever been a match for The Cross. It’s no coincidence (to me, at least) that this happened on the eve of Pentecost, the day that Christians thank God for the gift of the Holy Spirit.
So, what would happen, if we really started to tap into the extraordinary, stone-rolling, death-defying power of the cross? What if women (and men) started to gather in thousands (like we did this weekend) and start to pray for a breakthrough? What if we began to understand who we are in Christ and saw this evil for the spiritual battle that it is, and as a unified church, bellowed back; YOU SHALL NOT PASS.
The enemy can really only succeed when it believes it has no challenging authority, when it thinks no one will fight back. But imagine what would happen if the church grabbed its spiritual swords and began to push the evil beast back into the cavern it came from?
Is it possible? Yes, it has to be. But perhaps as a church, we’ve never before had a reason to try.
But now we do.
And now is the time to call upon heaven’s power and say, ‘enough really is enough’.
Who knows what could happen if we grabbed our spiritual weapons, claimed victory and freedom for our country, stared this enemy in the face, and just like Gandalf on a cliff edge declare;
You shall NOT pass.