There is a hidden battle between forces of good and evil happening around us all the time that we don’t see or realise.
But just because we don’t see something, doesn’t mean it isn’t there.
Sound familiar? This is the main premise and line from the 2013 Blue Sky and 20th Century Fox animation Epic, which is loosely based on the children’s book The Leaf Men and the Brave Good Bugs by William Joyce. I was just thinking about the movie randomly when I realised that there are certain truths and parallels from it that can be drawn to our actual lives.
There is a hidden battle between forces of good and evil happening around us all the time. The forces of good are of God, and the forces of evil are of the devil. Christians may know this as spiritual warfare.
But this is where the insights get a bit more interesting. While many Christians (and even non-Christians) see the devil as extremely powerful and terrifying and God as kind of weak or not as powerful because of all the terror and destruction we read and hear about, that is simply not a true reflection.
In the movie, the war between the Leafmen and the Boggans was going on mostly to the oblivion of the humans visiting the forest. Even the Professor who had been studying and looking for them for years was unable to detect most of what was happening. Only at times did major disturbances resulting from the conflict (e.g. strong winds and storm or an extensive area of decay) get noticed by humans.
Most of what’s happening in the spirit world is likewise ordinarily ignored by us. We’ll never know the number of times God went ahead and prevented us from getting into that accident, protected our children from getting exposed to that infection, or stopped that deadly growth or disease from taking root in our body, because we never saw it in the first place.
We tend to take note of destruction wreaked by the devil rather than things that are functioning well by God’s grace, just as it is always easier to spot a patch of rot rather than the rest of the vast forest that is flourishing and growing luxuriously. But by and large, the things that are in order far outnumber what is not.
Even when attacks and destruction occurred, a single touch or wave by Queen Tara in the movie was enough to cause new life to immediately grow upon what was suffering decay and rot. God’s breath and power in His spoken word is the same in our lives.
God’s almighty power is potently latent in His Word, and we unleash this life-giving power when we speak in line with Him using His words, just as He Himself did in calling everything into being and fruition which wasn’t there to begin with. Christians have more power and authority than we often think we do.
And just as Queen Tara ultimately chose a simple small pod to transfer her powers to and a young flower subject to succeed her as Queen, our age in Christ and our natural talents and accomplishments are no barrier to God’s power working through us. The new young Queen was able to manifest her powers immediately upon assuming the role; even the newest Christians have the power and ability to put demons to flight by calling on the name of Jesus.
Why does it seem that this battle between the forces of good and evil is more evident in Christians’ lives? Because the truth is, without Jesus in our lives, we are essentially living in Boggan territory – without life.
The Boggans only attacked the green and living parts of the forest, the parts that were kept flourishing and constantly renewed by the Queen. God has wrapped up all life in Jesus (John 14:6, 11:25). The moment we receive Jesus, we are reborn in the Spirit and Jesus’s eternal and ever-abundant life comes and resides in us. The devil is only interested in attacking those who have real life – the life of Jesus – in them.
But we don’t need to be afraid of attacks, because Jesus’s super-abounding life and power in us is far greater than anything the devil can do (1 John 4:4).
The devil will always come first to steal God’s Word from our heart and make us feel alone. It’s important that we don’t run away from church or forsake the assembling of the body of Christ when attacks come, because it is in the presence of other like-minded believers that we are continuously uplifted and encouraged by the truths about God and Jesus. As the saying goes: Many leaves, One tree – which is Jesus, the Tree of Life.
The truth is, God is not in the least fazed by what the devil is doing, just as Queen Tara wasn’t bothered by the plots of the Boggans (though her people were, just as God’s people sometimes are when we don’t realise the authority and victory that is already ours). God isn’t playing catch-up to the devil; it’s really the other way round.
God is all-knowing, all-present and all-powerful; the devil isn’t. The Boggans in the movie did not know when and where Queen Tara was going to choose the successor pod, though they knew it was going to happen. Likewise, the devil may notice significant angelic activity around someone who is called by God for great things and launch an attack on that person, but he will not know the full extent of God’s plans and purposes; and he will ultimately not succeed.
If the devil was really so powerful and all-knowing, he would’ve known exactly which family and who to target and attack to stop Jesus from coming into the world as a Man as prophesied. Instead, he launched attack after attack throughout the history of man, sometimes resulting in genocidal massacres, but still, Jesus came. And Jesus completed the work that God the Father sent Him to do, the work of salvation to all who believe.
Therefore we can be of good cheer, as Jesus said, because He has already overcome the world on our behalf (John 16:33). Let us simply rest in the truth of this victory, and freely receive all that He has already done and won for us.
Because when we encounter Jesus, we encounter grace.