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What I learned from the “fat girl” {How to Set Up Banners}

the_fat_girl

 

 

the_fat_girl

 

 

It was junior high.  I was “brace face” and she was “the fat girl.”

She was a year older than me, and quite pretty with her bold red curls, except no one allowed her an identity beyond her weight.

Certain things can mark us for life. And we can wear unfair labels for years.

I wonder if she went home every day in tears at the way she was treated. But she came to school and smiled again and did it all over.

Again and again.

And in seventh grade I learned defeat can be like that, coming down torrential day after day.

Perhaps defeat comes in many flavors but when it comes the Exodus 17 way? Well that’s just vicious. You know, when the Amalekites came up behind the traveling Israelites in the wilderness on their way to the promised land? Those slaves-turned-free were just minding their own business. The Amalekites had no bone to pick. Yet they showed no mercy. They attacked the weak, the young, the ones who were already struggling and lagging.

They attacked from behind.

We have an enemy who attacks us at our weak places. He doesn’t come head on, he slithers up from behind and gets us where we struggle the most. And he laughs while doing it.

The fat girl’s name was Pam and I liked her. When she came back for tenth grade, she was different. She wasn’t fat. She was a striking red headed beauty. I would have been intimidated to talk to her, except I knew she was kindhearted.

“Pam, what happened? How did you change so drastically? Your appearance is amazing! What in the world did you do?”

She smiled, beamed really. “Over the summer break, I decided I didn’t want to live like that anymore.”

“I prayed to Jesus and asked Him to help me. Then I got up in the morning~ every morning~ and went for a walk. Each day I prayed and asked Him for help and walked out my front doors and He helped me!”

I should have learned it from her then, but I didn’t, that Christ is our victory. That Christ is the only victory. That there is no hope apart from Him but that with Him, there is all the hope in the world.

Scholars say that in the Bible, “Amalekite ” refers to our flesh, the old self that clings and trips us up and weighs us down time after time. It attacks us from behind, it devours us when we’re weak and it sabatoges all our plans for living in the Promised Land. We talk much about being the intercessory Moses and keeping our hands up in the air, but we need also remember our Victory.

Yahweh God said, “Write this as a memorial in a book, that I will utterly blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven.” And it says it right there in that memorial record that HE Himself wages war against Amalek from generation to generation.

He’s waging it in mine.

He’s waging it in my children’s.

He is waging war against our Amalek, against enemies that sneak in unsuspecting and bring us low and in His name, we can have victory.

 

“And Moses built an altar and called the name of it, “The LORD is my Banner (Victory).”

It’s something Pam learned in between ninth and tenth grade. She learned the LORD was her victory and every day she flew the banner of the victorious and under the safety of that banner, she opened her front door and stepped out and walked.

The girl walked.

The first day she walked around the block, huffing and puffing. The next day she did it again. By the end of the week, she could walk a block and a half; by the end of the summer, she was walking several miles.

Pam, she taught me some things.

Today, I raise the Banner and step out into the fray. The Banner flaps victorious overhead.

“We will sing for joy over Your victory, and in the Name of our God we will set up our banners.”
Psalm 20:5

 

Personal Note: If you’ve ever been called “the fat girl,” even if only by yourself, please know that you are not defined by your label. You are defined by your Savior. Part of being victorious is letting Him define you. Joining hearts and praying for our labels to come off today, friend.

Lessons from the Year of Conquest

“Mom, why did Gideon not want to trust God?” Sunshine girl asks while I’m trying to get the printer installed and working.

“Well, because he was scared,” I tell her.

“But why was he scared? Is it because he thought he was going to have to fight all those people in the army down there?” 

She pauses then she says is straight out:  ”But really all he had to do was blow his horn.”

I turn to stare at this little girl. Yes, that’s it exactly. We think we have to be the Victorious One when all we really have to do is blow the horn, raise the banner, call on our God and step out in faith.

The battle never did belong to us.

How we fall prey to our own fear. The secret is knowing that victory is ours…but it isn’t up to us.

Victory is a gift, granted us by the Victor.

And didn’t pastor just preach this on Sunday? That our greatest and last enemy is death and even that will be defeated? And Jesus, He lets Jairus experience the death of his daughter so that He could show us all what to think about this great enemy of ours.

Past the weeping, the wailing, the hopelessness and unbelief…Jesus enters the room and shuts it all out and He speaks tender words of endearment: “Little lamb, get up!”

And pastor says that term would be like us saying to a daughter, “Sweetie pie” or “Honey”… and how Jesus didn’t say strong words like “Come forth!” but soft ones, like He was waking her up.

“Sweetie pie, wake up. It’s time for breakfast.”

This is how our Savior faces down death.       Glory be.

What a mighty King we have, what an awesome God we serve, what a glorious Savior we’ve been given! HE is our victory.

Yet there are the moments before the conquest, before the victory, before the resurrection. These moments have to be lived, and how?

The same way Jesus urged Jairus to live his “in between” moments: “Do not fear any longer. Only believe.”

For the just shall live by faith.

It has always been this way, the call to faith.

The invitation has been given to turn our eyes away from the current reality, away from ourselves, and focus on the Word breathed out. Let Him hold our confidence.

There comes a time when He tells us to set aside our fear and take hold of faith. Because He goes before us to the battle ground and needs only say to the enemy there, “Sweetie pie, it’s over. Let’s go eat now.”

Our job is always, only, to simply trust that He’ll do what He said and that He is who He says He is.

This, the Year of Conquest, has taught me Victory comes through trust.

And trust goes out and blows some horns.

So Sweetie Pie, get up. We’ve got some horns to blow and besides, breakfast is ready.

Q4U: What is your greatest enemy right now?

What does God say about it? (Hint: You can do all things through Christ who gives you strength!)

How can you step out in faith and blow a horn?

 

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Arabah’s Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

 

I had to reprimand Little Bit first off. That is never good and it went sour right away and she resisted and told stories and then flat out rebelled.

She got sent to my room, which made us late and I had to drop the school child off while still wearing my sleeping top (thank goodness for jackets) and the two younger children broke the drawer on the armoire while Little Bit and I were doing business.

The house was a wreck, I wasn’t dressed, Little Bit was at odds with me and the day had just flat out started poorly.

I ended up getting what I wanted from Little Bit.. She submitted. I am the mommy.

But as I looked into her hard eyes, I know that I didn’t score a victory.

Why do I keep forgetting that my goal is not to win a battle? My goal is to win the war, the war for my child’s heart and soul.

I’m a bigger fool than she is. I’ve screwed this all up.

We get back from dropping child at school and I get down on the floor amidst the scattered puzzles and jumping frogs and Bingo markers and broken drawer with cobwebs on the back. I call Little Bit to me and look into her eyes.

“Little Bit,” I tell her. “I’m the mom and God made me in charge. It is not okay for you to resist and rebel against me. Mommy has to teach you that you cannot do that…but I don’t know that I did the right thing, baby. Mommy isn’t always sure how to teach you what is right. Let’s pray to Jesus, okay?”

I take her in my arms, knowing her rigid body means she is still resisting. We pray.

“Lord Jesus, please help us. Please help mommy to be a good mommy. Please help mommy love Little Bit and know how to teach her what is right. Please give mommy wisdom.”

Mommy is crying, now…and I’m shocked when I feel little sobs against my shoulder.

Little Bit is crying too.

“Jesus, You are Savior and Redeemer. Please redeem the rest of this day for us.” I speak the words and a flash of lightening cracks through my heart.

It illuminates my darkness.

I wipe Little Bit’s eyes. “Let’s have a good day,” I tell her as she softens in my arms.

I return to that flash, that illumination, that powerful word shot through the heart when I called on Him as Savior.

“Today is the day of salvation.”

Oh yes, but it’s true! As long as it is still called today, it is the day of salvation. There is indeed redemption. This day can be salvaged.

If only I can hold on to that!

Like Alexander going to sleep with gum in his mouth and waking up with gum in his hair, and getting his jacket wet, and on and on, so it seems when one bad thing happens, it spawns other bad things.

The day starts off rough…so I’m short with the children, impatient with everyone, critical of friends, insecure about my choices, and it never stops.

It really is a vicious cycle, a trap meant to claim my whole day, bit by bit.

But this, the word of truth. Today is the day of salvation.

I can just stop right here. I can draw a line. There is a Redeemer and He can literally save the day.

No matter how horrible it has been, how terrible my choices, no matter how out of control life has become…our Savior can salvage it. He has given today a name: salvation.

When the tempation comes to cave to the mess, the noise, the chaos, the bad choices, the insecurity,  I have a weapon. I take it up and I speak it out loud and I know that it is true.

The day is saved. I need not wait for tomorrow.

Now if I can just find Alexander to let him know…

To those afflicted in mind or emotion

They say still waters run deep and I’ve always been deep and still. But sometimes words bubble up, don’t know where to go, crash around inside.

So I get up and bang a few out here in this space.

My aunt, she lost her mind. Emotional weakness has always been part of my family, that and the mental. The older I get, the closer to me it seems to come…and I’ve wondered if I’ll be plumb swept away in the torrent.

And yet.

I’ve pondered long on great men and women of the faith, men like Charles Spurgeon and Martin Luther, women like Mother Teresa. Those who deeply struggled internally, fiercely fought depression, grasped at faith with phantom claws.

And I’ve come to a conclusion or two.

We understand and even extend special graces to those with physical, relational, or health-related afflictions. We assume they have learned hard lessons and we grant them our time and attention. We believe that God uses affliction and surely their lives must be a mural on which He is painting a sacred story.

So we listen. We honor. We watch in awe. We learn.

But when it comes to emotional or mental affliction, we recoil.

It’s part of our American mind-set: if you are “spiritual,” then you will be “happy in Jesus.”

If you aren’t happy in Jesus, going through your days on spiritual cloud 9, then you are not spiritually mature and you have not found the secret to living the Christian life.

There is a lot in the Scriptures that talk about the mind, no doubt. Such as instruction to live transformed by renewing it; and we are kept in perfect wholeness by fixing it on God.

However, nowhere in scripture is there implication that keeping the mind stayed on Christ is simple or quick. Or painless for that matter. Neither does the Bible say that our adversary will quietly allow us to take mental and emotional territory from him without any sort of onslaught!

The truth is that when you have learned and lived by poor habits in thinking and have been ruled by your feelings, conquering that spiritual battle is all out war and there is nothing easy or convenient about it.

This I know.

I am absolutely loving reading through David’s life in my One Year Chronological Bible), because it intersperses the Psalms he wrote at the place in his life scholars best guess he wrote them.

In this way, with a simple read-through, you see him fighting Goliath…then singing a psalm….running from Saul…then fighting for faith in composing a psalm…hiding out from enemies…then pouring his heart out to God in song.

It sort of sounds like a man mentally and emotionally afflicted.

Why did God allow, even ordain, David to live so many years running from Saul, moving from cave to cave, no safe place to settle down? He was God’s elect! He was God’s anointed! He was royalty.

God’s chosen, living the nomadic life of the outcast.

Why? Because affliction of all sorts are meant to train us in the same thing:

“And Saul’s son Jonathan went to David at Horesh and helped him find strength in God.” I Sam. 23:16

“David was greatly distressed because the people spoke of stoning him, for all the people were embittered…But David strengthened himself in the LORD his God.” I Sam. 30:6

And to the two women who labored hard alongside Paul but who struggled relationally, Paul told the body to “help these women!” How? By coming alongside of them and showing them how to “rejoice in the Lord always.” (Phil. 4:1-4)

Paul himself gives this testimony: “For we do not want you to be ignorant of our affliction which came to us in Asia, that we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life;
“Indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead.” (II Cor. 1:8-9)

It is clear to me that our mental and emotional afflictions can serve the purposes of God just as much as other types of afflictions, and they all boil down to one aim: finding our strength, hope, very life itself in nothing but Christ.

Are you afflicted today? Don’t add condemnation to your affliction! Accept your affliction as the tool of God to bring you to a place where He is the sole object of your trust.

Instead of fighting against the affliction, Practice strengthening yourself in the character of God (which is another fight of sorts, but don’t lose heart! You are now fighting with purpose.)

Then rejoice! For this is the place of great strength, the place
where you walk in Christ on your high places. (Habakkuk 3:17-19)

The Path of Life (with Chart)

Computer crashed this weekend, so not able to do much online until I’m back up. However, A reader asked me to expand on my testimony, the one included in the Core Lies book. I include it here for anyone else it may benefit?

One day I realized that if I was to overcome the past and become the new me in practice, I had to get intentional.

God had shown me that the root of my issue was core lies. This is true of each one of us because a lie is the only tool the enemy has…but how to identify them and where to begin? I had no idea where to start, except with the junk that was coming out- my emotions and how I was feeling. All the turmoil and the expressions of anger, grief, fear, panic, etc were actually outflows of beliefs. And obviously, those beliefs were lies because they were not expressions of peace, joy, love, patience, gentleness, kindness, self control, and the other Spirit fruits.

It took some time and hard work, but I began reflecting upon my emotional outflows. I began to identify why I would lash out (even if just internally, like someone cut me off in traffic I would feel angry. I asked myself why? Why is that such a big deal? The answer is that I felt my security threatened. I felt my safety and worth wasn’t valued by another.)

So I really got serious about deciphering my emotions and what they were telling me. Surprisingly enough (or not), they were telling me what I believed, and I was believing a whole slew of lies! About God and His nature, my worth, my abilities, my needs, etc.

I was off to a great start. Identifying the source of negative outflows was a huge accomplishment, but God and I weren’t done yet. I was going to have to start stemming the flow of gunk and tap into a different source, the River of life.

That always means war.

The enemy strikes hard and when it comes time to fight, who can win without a weapon?

“Now no blacksmith could be found in all the land of Israel, for the Philistines said “Otherwise the Hebrews will make swords or spears. So it came about on the day of battle that neither sword nor spear was found in the hands of any of the people who were with Saul and Jonathan…” I Samuel 13:19,22

Yet surely God has given us weapons of warfare, weapons for the tearing down of strongholds, even those inherited from the forefathers. The word of truth is our weapon! After identifying source lies, I was in a position to begin preparing very specific and thus very effective weapons.

This step was and is crucial to victory.

So I found some scriptures that applied very directly to my source lies, words of truth that counteracted the poison. However, I kept being defeated. I kept finding myself responding in anger or withdrawing from relationship or giving in to panic and fear.

I was at a stalemate. What to do?

I realized that the moment I became aware of negative internal emotions was the moment I needed to do battle…but that was not when I was strong. I was weak at the very moment I needed to be strongest! The best way to prepare for these times was to give myself a “cheat sheet.”

At the moment of battle, I was weak and confused and left floundering. But I wasn’t accepting that as final!

I sat down and wrote out a game plan, a cheat sheet, a strategy for victory for when the battle was on. I included a little pep talk for why this was so important, a reminder as to why it was worth the fight. My cheat sheet was called “The Path of Life.”

It was clear that I would have to machete my way through, but finally I had the tools to do it. God was working in me both to will and to work.

So when I became aware of one of my internal emotions, say a gnawing, irrational fear, I would immediately go to my chart, look up and name the lie I was up against, declare war, and would begin reciting the truth. I would thank God for the truths that counteracted the lie and praise Him for His good character.

I still do this, though thankfully, my cheat sheet came down many months ago from my cork board where I kept it. None of us will ever outgrow spiritual warfare and combating lies. But we will grow in our ability to discern them and defeat them quickly.

“The mature…because of practice, have their senses trained to discern good and evil.” Hebrews 5:14

Practice. It’s the key word.

Sometimes we give in to laziness because practice is hard work. It just seems easier to go with the flow and hope for the best. But once you understand the death and destruction your thoughts and inner beliefs are causing, you find the motivation to start practicing!

I am including my “cheat sheet” here for anyone who is interested. Your issues, lies, emotions, etc will be different, but this may provide you with an idea for making your own. If you do make your own, will you email me a copy? I would love to learn from you and perhaps I can share here with others?

God bless you, sisters (and brothers?) I am praying today for you who read these words to be strengthened and encouraged in your faith walk…

Path of Life Chart (Cheat Sheet)

Loose Thoughts Doth a Loose Momma Make

There are days.
There are days when I’m on top of the ball. I’m in the God-groove and we live victoriously and the home reflects it and it’s good.

Then there are days. You know the kind.

Days when I’m a wrecking ball momma, loose in my game, and everything is spinning out of control and I am too and I just want everything to stop and let me get. a. grip. please.

Those are the days I’m not quite sure about. They spin so fast and happen so quick and things have gone to pieces before I can blink an eye and what’s to be done about it all?

It’s a May day when the Order comes down. I’m sitting in McDonald’s, the only one for miles around, and with the flies coming through the revolving door and the husband at home with the kids, I hear. “Completely eradicate it,” He tells me and when He pinpoints the enemy, why am I so surprised that it is a lie?

Then He names it. Just like the Israelites knew by name their enemies~ the Hittites, Jebusites, Amorites, Amalekites, Canaanites~ so we need ours named.

When we know it’s name, we know how to recognize it.

And when we start to recognize it as it comes to devour and destroy, we can take it out. Eradicate it.

My enemy is the lie of the garden. The lie that says, “If-only…., then I would be happy.” The enemy of  “If Only.”
Except mine is the spiritualized version. My lie doesn’t say “If only (blank), I’d be happy” but “If only…. then I’d be spiritual. I’d live up to my full potential in Christ. I’d be more victorious. I’d live more of the abundant life.”

“If only I had some down time…then I could get my spiritual ducks in a row and take them out.”
“If only I could finish a thought, had some support, more quiet, a better night’s rest, the right Bible study plan, or …”

The “If Only” lie tells us we need just one more thing.

If the enemy can keep us believing this one, that there is an ever-changing, missing ingredient to a full life, then he will perpetually win.

If he can convince us that we need what so and so has; or we need to discover the missing ingredient; or we need a good quiet time without any interruptions; well It doesn’t take much imagining to see how this lie sprouts quickly and spreads even quicker.

It is a fine strategy for our defeat.

The truth is that there will always be some forbidden fruit in our lives. While the enemy would have us believe that God has withheld something we need to be fulfilled, the truth is that there will always be something God says “no” to and He asks us to believe that it isn’t the forbidden or the unavailable that we need in order to be complete in Him.

The truth is that we are already complete in Him. Colossians 2:10

And that May day in McDonald’s, I can see how the loose cannon ball days of my life thrive on this one little lie.

“Completely eradicate it,” He says.

The strategy is simple: Guard against loose thoughts that make for loose cannons. Recognize “if only” thoughts when they creep in (having “overwhelmed” or frustrated feelings is a good indicator of loose thoughts). Then replace the loose, wrong thoughts with truth.

So I make some “Truth Targets:” scripture cards directly in opposition to the “If Only” enemy, scriptures that say, “I already have everything I need.” WHAT AN IMPORTANT TRUTH to keep before us!

“I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” Phil. 4:13

“And in Him, you have been made complete.” Colossians 2:10

“Seeing that His divine power has granted us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.” II Peter 1:3

“And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed.” II Corinthians 9:8

“For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” Colossians 3:3

“And who is adequate for these things? Not that we are adequate in ourselves…but our adequacy is from God, who also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant…” II Corinthians 2:16b,3:5-6

Right here, right now, I am complete in Christ and I have everything I need to live full and abundant. I am fully equipped for every good deed, fully adequate for the task at hand, fully sufficient and backed with all grace. God has made me adequate, whether I feel it or not, whether I understand it or not, whether I believe it or not.

Right now, this moment, is not outside the parameters of “everything,” “always,” and “all.”  Sure, it would be nice to have a full night’s rest, but I already have all I need to live godly and I am complete in Him.

There. That’ll put some loose thoughts in their place and put a loose momma back on track.

When You Need a Hug

 

It came in the mail yesterday, a green box from a woman I’ve never met, filled with grits and peanut butter cups…and a card.

I go to the pantry and count the bags of grits I have there: nine! And the bags of peanut butter cups: ten. I can’t keep up with all this precious woman sends me. She made it her mission to keep me stocked on two things I can’t get overseas while I am on furlough. My cup truly does run over.

Words can’t express what a blessing this faithful woman has been in my life, how God has used her little notes and gifts and years of cards overseas to encourage me.

Her name is Pam and I’ve never met her. She got my name at a mission’s conference and committed to pray for and encourage me. Through the years, this one woman has faithfully done just that.

Sheer Grace.

So yesterday, when I posted from my past, revisited the ruins, remembered exactly what I’m fighting, God knew I needed grits and peanut butter cups.

He knew I needed a green box from a woman I’ve never met and a silly little card that I put up to my face twice yesterday and that I’ve tucked away for another day…maybe for today and tomorrow and every day after that.

Remembering your roots can be dangerous. The past holds powerful cords that try to entangle you all over again if you get too close. Best to revisit the past only when tethered to the Anchor. Only then can we lower ourselves into the dark ravine, the pit from which we were dug, gather the treasure of remembrance needed, and ascend back up to walk by faith.

“Since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices, and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him…” Col 3:9-10

Sometimes a green box can help us practice “dead reckoning.”

“Knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin…even so, reckon yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.” Romans 6:6,11

When the past presses into your present and tries to tell you who you really are and he comes with proof, even has photos and yes, it sure looks like you…that’s when you need to reckon yourself dead.

Because it’s not you who walks in that skin anymore. It’s not you living and breathing and moving. It’s not your blood pumping, it’s not your mind thinking, it’s not.

For I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me… Galatians 2:20

And the only way for Christ to live in me is through faith, through reckoning it as true, banking on His very presence in me.Because His love not only gave Himself up for me but takes up residence within me and I am no longer me.

The mystery of “in Christ.”

I tear the envelope open, rip the paper getting to the card inside. “This card contains an actual HUG!” It reads. At the bottom, an asterick says “Instructions enclosed.”

Inside are the instructions:

1. Press card on face.

2. Apply pressure on left and right cheeks.

3. Think about how special you are to so many people!

Reminder: Repeat hugging process as often as needed.

It seems silly, a little card you’d chuckle at and keep for a day or two, then toss. Never really take seriously.

Sort of like the instructions to reckon the old man dead? Do we rush past the “dead reckoning”, thinking it too impossible or too vague? Do we search for something more or something different or something more suitable to our thinking?

Will we press in and learn the discipline of dead reckoning? Will I?

There it is, like instructions on a card, the way to cross the Jordan and take possession of the land.

I breathe deep, shaky. Excited. In wonder.

I pick up the “Hug” card and follow the instructions, except when I get to step 3, I do some substitution. I reckon the old me dead, the past gone. I reckon me alive unto God, the life in me is Christ.

“Look at Mommy!” one of the children says. It looks silly, mommy with a card stretched across her face…but I have a feeling it may just become a regular sight around our house.

A part of “dead reckoning.”

Yes, I’m tethered to that Anchor and all is well and I’ve received the treasure I came for and I’m moving forward in faith.

How about you? Are you moving forward in faith? What are your tools for “dead reckoning?”

Linking up with “Walk with Him Wednesday” where this week the focus is on living Christ-centric lives. Join in?

When you need new blood, new skin, a new you

Five kids, one dirty dog, one messy house, and one demanding husband into life, she lost it.

Took her daughter to the ER one day ~ I remember sitting in the van while we drove her there ~ and she walked out of that ER loony.

She went missing and even after they found her and her frightened daughter, it took a while for us to really “find” her.

It was just like her mom before her…and her mom before her. Just like generations of moms past as far back as I can trace. I come from a long line of women who’ve up and gone crazy, lost their minds, gone stark mad.

It’s terrifying.

My own mom would use it as a weapon. “You remind me of your Aunt Levale,” she’d tell one of us, and it was meant to mark us, wound us.

It did.

I learned there were some hidden things, terrifying things, measures of darkness that no light could reach.

Hopelessness existed. And if I wasn’t good enough,  I just might be headed straight for it.

When this is the disease that runs through your blood, you start looking for answers. Oh sure, maybe there is a time when you’re optimistic. You think you’ve beat the odds. You’re young and strong and you’re sure you’re the one the infection won’t touch.

Then life piles up. The symptoms start showing up.

And shopping trips can’t cover it and friends can’t make it go away and make-up can’t camoflauge it and that last hope religion? Can’t fix it.

And then you know the truth. The truth that we can only pump through our veins the blood inherited from the forefathers and we’re all children of Adam and there is no one righteous and this disease, with the specifications of your lineage, it’s not going anywhere. It’s under the skin. It fills every cell. It’s you.

That’s when the question becomes “How are we going to deal with this?”

Strangely enough, it’s a question many Christians never get to. Rather, they spend their lives trying to treat or cover up the symptoms, stacking nightstands and filling ipods with strategies and tools to live the best life possible for whatever life remains.

We try to prove if only ~ finally ~ to ourselves, that infected blood hasn’t seeped all the way through. That we aren’t what momma said about us. We aren’t our worst fears. We aren’t “Aunt Levale.”

We’re going to make it.

There’s good news and bad news. The bad news? It’s that bad. It isn’t a nightmare and it isn’t Aunt Levale anymore, it’s you.

The good news? “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick; I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Jesus, Mark 2:17)

And there is One Name given among men by which we must be saved. ONE NAME (and it isn’t the name of our best loved authors, teachers, friends, or pastors, by the way.)

He didn’t come to salvage our lives. He came to give us new blood altogether.

Someone give me a breathing mask because I’ve got to start gulping new life in. I need the blood transfusion ASAP.

And it strikes me one day, why so many of God’s people never breathe it in. Why we never let the Physician do the full work He offers us: Some of us are content to stay on the other side of the Jordan.

Like the Reubenites, Gadites, and half tribe of Manassah, we are happy with the land just short of the Promised Land. (Josh. 22:1-4)  We decide our symptoms aren’t that bad, the prognosis is tolerable, and there are far fewer risks involved. Who wants to spend their whole lifetime fighting to gain territory, anyway?

We’ll settle for stuffed bookshelves and too-busy lives and the intake of so much caffeine that it needs it’s own budget….we’ll take what we can get and make the best of it.

But then there’s folks like me, folks so sick with the sin-disease that you puke it all over your kids. Daily. hourly. Some days you can’t even get your emotional self out of bed you’re so sick, can’t plug in to the life around you. And you know you’re infecting everyone in your path.

Something’s got to be done. There’s not enough caffeine and the workbooks leave empty and you’re so worn and weary of performing. So you stop pretending and you decide, even if it kills me, I’m crossing that Jordan.

Those people of God who stay on the other side of the Jordan have just as much of God as I do. They are not inferior or unloved. They may even be able to make a nice little picket fence life for themselves.

But crossing the Jordan? Well, that’s God’s plan all along and the Promised Land is “God’s land” and I want all, every little bit, of what He intended. (Josh 22:19)

The truth is, I can’t survive on the other side of the Jordan.

My blood runs too perverted, my resources too few, my prognosis too bad. I’ve either got to enter in or die in the wilderness.

“Fear not, little flock, for it is the Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”

 

If it’s the Father’s good pleasure (and it is) then why shouldn’t I enter in?

There is no real good reason.

Because even when the darkness is  within your own soul, pumping through your own veins, under your own skin, He says He’ll give you the kingdom and the kingdom is within you.

.And I get it: There is no such place as hopeless.

There is no darkness impenetrable, even when it’s within.

Even when there are giants bigger than Aunt Levale in my promised land. It’s my land, not theirs.

And the King, the One by whom comes salvation, has just declared war.

 

Related Posts: Injecting Mud

How to Really Change

Face in Soil

This is the Year of Conquest, except it is nearly noon with the sun almost directly overhead on 2011, and I wonder exactly what “conquesting” has been going on.

I think of women I admire who live from the outflow of their promised lands. Oh, it’s good! It’s rich and I thirst for more and these women have found their inheritance and settled down in it, their lives both testimonies and invitations for each of us: Conquest!

It’s everything I’ve ever wanted.

I’m moved to ask Him about my promised land. I can taste it. I can see it. But there remains so much land to be conquered.

He reminds me of Joshua. Before Jericho, before that first conquest, before God’s people inched their way into their land of promise bit by bit, before all of that, Joshua found his proper posture.

Now when Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua went up to him and asked, “Are you for us or for our enemies?”

“Neither,” he replied, “but as commander of the army of the LORD I have now come.Then Joshua fell facedown to the ground in reverence, and asked him, “What message does my Lord have for his servant?”

The commander of the LORD’s army replied, “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so.

His words to me, “I’ve had to reinforce that I’m the One who leads you in victory, my child. Because unbelief in Me is as damning as rebellion.”

Could it be that there is Someone looking out for my best interests even more than I look out for them?

Could it be, in fact, that I don’t have to look out for my best interests anymore at all because Someone else is and that Someone is named Faithful and True and He never, ever changes and He is perfect in wisdom and absolutely sovereign and will never leave me or forsake me and all He asks is that I trust Him?

Could it all be gloriously true?

Could it be that accepting each moment of each day as it comes with a “Yes, Lord” is in fact holy ground? This submission of Joshua becomes ours through our “Yes, Lord”…and submission is intermingled with the giving up of looking out for one’s self. This is what He has been teaching me the morning of 2011?

Awe rises even as knees bend…Face in soil is about recognizing all the goodness and glory that avails Himself to us. It is nothing but a lie that says we have to make our own way, rush ahead and hope God will back us.

All I’ve ever really wanted, well, the Commander withholds no good thing. For some wild, passionate reason, He is here to grant me every truly good thing, to tell me how to enter in, to lead me step by step in the conquest.To be Shepherd and Guide and Victor who shares the spoils with me.

Will I but trust Him? Will I but trust He is that good? To the point of lowering head?

Will I have the eyes of faith when I look at a disruptive child or an empty bank account, or an unpleasant confrontation?

It is the posture to adopt, when you follow the Commander.

Face in soil.

Only with face in soil was Joshua prepared for conquest.

Face in soil reminds us that He is here to do for us and with us what we want so desperately bad but cannot do for ourselves, and since that is the case, we can embrace whatever moments He dishes out.

Joshua faced some grueling days, some sleepless nights, some hunger and thirst, some tricky enemies, some physical and mental stress beyond human capacity.

But he could do it because he’d put face to soil and in that holy place knew Captain was for him, with him, and completely and utterly trustworthy.

What a God who goes before us!

Ridiculous

It is ridiculous the way He treats me, it really is.

Kids have been sick with a stomach bug, ear infections, and more. I’ve been trying to keep up on the piles of laundry and the bleaching to keep germs from spreading, fighting off sickness myself.

And through it all, yesterday’s mail sat in the box all night, getting soaked with the rain that’s replaced the snow of late.

This morning I splashed through the puddles in house shoes. I retrieved the soggy mess and flipped through the ads and solicitations.

A hand addressed envelope.

I opened that one first.

I scanned the letter. Jaw drops as something flutters out. A large check. From someone who does not know us but “got our name” from someone else.

Like I said, it is ridiculous the way He treats me.

I go back and re-read the letter. What I find there is even more surprising, the un-mistakable “God print” that speaks of His authorship of this generous gift: Joshua 1:8-9, part of my key passage for 2011.

The kids are listening to K-Love and one of my favorite songs is playing. “And if our God is with us, then what can stand against?”

I get down on my knees and thank Him, awestruck.

Sure, the financial gift is a tremendous blessing. But this scripture? The timeliness of this song? This message piercing my heart from all directions?

A reminder from the hand of God through the pen of a stranger that this is the year of conquest and He is behind me, in front of me, above me and beneath me. He is FOR ME!

Right here, right now. With the rain puddles and the sick babies and the sleepless nights and the pharmacy runs.

Thunder shakes my window pane and I inhale His sound. My heart thumps to His rumble. I hear His heart.

It is ridiculous the way He treats me. Ridiculously Lavish. Ridiculously Good. Ridiculously Loving.

Ridiculous.

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