Don’t Fight Naked

I have so many failings and flaws of character, I told myself one miserable morning recently. I haven’t changed, I never will change, I never can change. I should just give up and throw myself in the trash.

I felt powerless, defeated, and alone before I even got out of bed.Feb-Nov 2015 1803

Do you ever feel that way?

Still Small Voice: You’re not alone, you know? I’m always with you.

“I know You live in my heart,” I said.  “But I’m such a poor representative.”

Maybe you’re looking at the wrong person?

As I lay on my pillow, I remembered a sweet Texas drawl from many years ago—it was my friend’s mother as she said: “Well of course you’re having trouble, darlin’–you’re goin’ into battle nekked!”

I realized I was doing it again.

Instead of submitting my worries to God and waiting on Him for direction, I’d fretted in the night. I’d dashed from one website to another trying to solve my problems by myself.Nov. 2015 221

And I was getting throttled.

My Texan sister was referring to Ephesians 6 and the full armor of God. That morning it seemed overwhelming to walk through the passage step-by-step. But I had to do something.  I looked around for a quick spiritual sword to whack at the enemy and push him back.

The sword I swung is from Phil. 1:6, which says, “He who began a good work in you will complete it…” 

Suddenly I realized I could put on all my armor with this one verse–one word or phrase at a time.Feb-Nov 2015 1880

HE–God–Creator, Majesty, lover of my soul. I remembered how God once granted my childish prayer to prevent an undeserved spanking from hurting. He has answered all such childish prayers since.  “He will never leave you or forsake you.” (Deut. 31:6).

With this remembrance I put on my breastplate of His righteousness to protect my heart from Satan’s jabs.

WHO BEGAN–One day, this former runaway teen heard how Jesus died on the cross to pay for my sins and adopt me into His family. From that moment on, I had a future. “Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh; is anything too hard for Me?” (Jer. 32:27)Feb-Nov 2015 1700

With this remembrance I donned my helmet of salvation to protect my mind from Satan’s trickery. 

A GOOD WORKwhen I bring my broken pieces and failed intentions to God, He exchanges my ashes for beauty, my mourning for the oil of joy, and my depression for a garment of praise.  He exchanges withered sticks for “trees of righteousness, a planting for the Lord.” (Is. 61:3)

I gird my loins with the truth that God makes me beautiful and fruitful for Himself. I cover my nakedness so none other has mastery over me. I am His alone–His beautiful bride.

IN ME–He knows me: I love fields, red clay, baby feet, basil pesto. Loud noise and activities stress me. I want to be braver.  He works with it all. “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (Rom. 8:28)Feb-Nov 2015 1894

The utter joy of being completely known and yet loved leads me to polish my shoes and shod my feet with the gospel of peace so I can tell everyone about this God who loves us to and for Himself.

WILL COMPLETE IT–completion of God’s good work doesn’t depend on me but on the completed work of Christ and promises of God. “So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what I desire…” (Is. 55:11)

I lift my shield and take up my sword. I remember that Jesus changed everything–my passage through time as well as my eternal destiny. I strike down the lies that discourage and derail me. I’m rescued from the trash, never to return.April 2015 014

I still have many flaws and failings of character but I rise, fully armored, in this promise:

“…He who began a good work in you will complete it until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Phil.1:6)

When the Enemy of your soul picks a fight with you, friends, put on your best Texas drawl and don’t go into battle nekked.

 

 

 

We Need a Raising, Lord

With much love for L and S

Where are You,  O God? Where are You for our friends? I plant my elbows on the navy-checked tablecloth. I stare at the corncob salt-and-peppers from the thNov. 2015 248rift shop–mere specks of dust in the universe, but they usually make me smile. Not today. My heart is heavy.

Outside, brilliant oranges and yellows proclaim the time of rest for trees. Winter approaches—the first snows dust the tops of the nearby foothills. The once-dry creek roars again. My mind roars, too. But I want to hope.The evidence of You is all around.

Are You wrapped around our friends today? Are You their refuge and strength? Are You holding them up? August 2015 212

Why are these friends continuously pummeled by storms with little rest—cancer, deaths of loved ones, dementia in both fathers, and the latest blow–arrest of a son for whom they’ve prayed, sacrificed, counseled, and laid down their lives in every arena?

Satan pounds them without abatement. The “Adam” bombs of mortality threaten to blast them to dust and grind them to spit.

“In Him all things hold together.” (Col. 1:17) They’ve hidden their lives in You, Lord. Please hold them together.Nov. 2015 313

We’re not supposed to ask why. But Moses did. David did. May I ask for them, Lord? May I beg a respite for them from the storms? How much more? Will You hide them in the shelter of Your wings?

Can they find refuge in sleep? They bury their faces in wet pillows. A God who makes autumn and constellations and babies to grow inside us–the conclusion will be perfect, yes, but it looks a mess now. Where is the ray of hope?Nov. 2015 037

The sister of Lazarus said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.” (John 11:21 NASB) Jesus asked Martha if she believed He could raise the dead. She did, she said, yes, certainly, sometime in the future.  But Jesus raised Lazarus that very day.

We need a raising, Lord.

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (Heb. 11:1)

Nov. 2015 018Open our eyes, Lord. “Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh; is anything too difficult for Me?” (Jer. 32:27)

When Job lost his animals, servants, buildings, children, and health, he asked why. You answered him with Your beauty and majesty, Your authority over the store houses of snow and every created thing. Job fell on his face and retracted his questions as piffle.

We want to retract our questions but, right now, none of what’s happening feels like piffle.It feels like our hearts can’t continue beating against the flood–that they’re ripped out, strewn on the rocks, and bleeding underfoot.Nov. 2015 223

But Your heart is breaking too, isn’t it, Lord? When we weep and cry out to You, and rail against the evil in the world that devastates us and kills the ones we love, You know how we feel, don’t You? You know because You were here once.

After You listened to Martha and Mary, You stood outside Lazarus’ tomb and wept.

You wept.

That’s our ray ofNov. 2015 104 hope.

You wept over our reality. You accepted the whole pain of it on the Cross. You said to Your disciples–all the ones then and all the ones now–“In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

Help us take courage today, Lord. Help us remember You standing outside that tomb looking at the wages of sin and weeping for us. Give our friends the courage of hope in You and Your finished work. Give us faith in things not seen.

We are creatures of dust. You’ve put it in our hearts to love and sacrifice for other creatures of dust, to find pleasure and beauty even in inanimate things that will all pass awayNov. 2015 216. Therefore, hide us in the shelter of Your wings, that we would find hope in You, despite what we see.

Please, Lord–only You can give life.