Another lie bites the dust

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We tear down arguments and every presumption set up against the knowledge of God; and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:5 Berean Study Bible

September in Alabama means withering heat. As I watered my ferns the other day, a disheartening thought flooded my mind: ‘Life is just one chore after another!’

That’s horrible, Lord! Say it ain’t so!’, I desperately prayed. Immediately, I countered with as many truths that I could muster.  For God has given me the ability to control my thoughts, to capture them and not sink under them. He has endowed humans with rational minds. I am not enchained to the suggestions that flit through my mind.

As I countered this enemy attack, I directed my gaze to the beauty of my plants, to the view I had from our second-story balcony and thanked God for his good gifts.  A new thought flowed from having turned my attention to the Eternal One.  I’ve read that as ‘I AM’, he inhabits each moment, so each of our moments is eternal, because they are stamped with the creator’s mark.

Already I started to feel cheerier.

Once again, I had been caught blindsided, by what I now know as a Satan-suggestion. I’m learning to be more alert for these very effective attacks.

As I’ve written in earlier posts, this season’s sanctification curriculum designed by the supreme guidance counselor, the Holy Spirit, is aimed at humbling me.  That might sound painful, but I’m finding it to be freeing.  Andrew Murray’s book, Humility and Absolute Surrender (assigned by the Spirit and sent to me by Regina) has convinced me of the spaciousness of accepting as gift the awareness that I have been designed to be needy, rather than to be enough.  I am learning to see each little humiliation, disappointment, delay as divine gifts. So far, I have been able to smile when I recognize them.  But, knowing the Holy Coach, he has more challenging training programmed.

The fern incident gave me a helpful insight in what it means to embrace humility.  Part of my obsessive quest to be enough as Maria (the opposite of acknowledging one’s emptiness) has included the capacity to get a lot done.  What’s ironic is that when Satan through watering my plants pointed to an endless stretch of tasks, he thought he could feed my productivity itch with his depressing message. Instead, it reminded me that I was not created to DO, but to BE.

God gave Adam and Eve all they needed in abundance. Furthermore, out of love, he daily sought them out, delighting in their happiness.  Sure, they were tasked with tending creation, but he didn’t fellowship with them to see if they had completed all their chores for the day.

Then Satan entered stage right and they swallowed the evil antagonist’s suggestion of self-sufficiency, thereby rejecting their father’s kindness. They were hood-winked into believing and preferring the idea that they could be enough. That they didn’t need God.  Would that they had humbly brought this plan to their creator for his take on it.

Instead, they fell for the lie, thus enslaving themselves and their descendants to the rule of Satan, the supreme head over the Kingdom of Do.

Out of his never-ending love for us, God has been steadily working his original good plan to free us from Satan.  I can imagine no greater gift than God’s liberation. Through regeneration, he gave me eyes to see the lie and a heart that desired to turn to him. At that moment, the Holy Spirit transferred me into the Kingdom of Be.

Happy humility and restful trust in THIS King are the twin principles of those who understand God’s plan. Yet, Satan doesn’t easily give up.  He keeps marketing the lure, the supposed reward of feeling ‘enough’ through doing more.

For too much of my life, I’ve been a sucker for that carrot. But, behind that fake, glittering prize lies ongoing enslavement and the Sisyphean burden of always doing and never gaining the relief I yearn for. 

Thank you, Holy Spirit, for alerting me yet again to the lie. Help me, by your power, continually to ‘hand over each thought to Jesus’ for him to evaluate it and tell me his truth.  

Trying to get back to ‘pleasant’ or ‘normal’?

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 I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.  John 16:33

For we are to God the sweet aroma of Christ among those who are being saved. 2 Cor 2:15

Where do we get the idea that problems and crises are NOT the norm?  That when they occur, top priority is solving them, getting through them, so we can ‘get back to normal’? What IS normal? And why do we view life without suffering and hardship as the norm?

I grew up believing that ‘a pleasant, mostly problem-free live IS natural, to be expected‘. That ‘fact’ formed part of the bedrock of my heart. Ever since my early teens,  I have been pushing back against all those OBTRUSIVE trials and painful interruptions and sufferings as though they were something to get through, to get solved, to get over with SO THAT life can ‘get back to normal’.

The other morning as I was reflecting and journaling,  John Piper’s advice to adopt a ‘war-time mentality’ popped into my head.  The ”war’ he refers to is the one against the very real and vicious, dark, murderous, evil spiritual forces operating in our fallen world.

The reference to war brought to mind an historical novel I read last month about French resistance workers during WW2.  The main character risked her life, time and time again. Even when she was hurt and wounded, she still carried out dangerous missions.

Up until now,  I have applied Piper’s message to how I view money, how I think about and allocate disposable time, and how I pray.  But yesterday the image of this courageous young woman began to guide my understanding of our present ‘wartime’. As I was praying through some current suffering affecting Mike and me, I began to realize, that being wounded oneself doesn’t mean I can’t serve as God’s covert worker behind ‘enemy lines’.

In fact, I started realizing that suffering is part of the war in this ‘present darkness’ on our post-Edenic planet.  Physical and metaphorical bombs befall us; we step on ‘landmines’ that rain pain and destruction; snipers take aim at our loved ones.  None of this trouble is outside of God’s sovereign reign.  All of these events are part and parcel of the trouble that Jesus announced we would encounter in this world.  Our enemy MEANS them to destroy us, but God MEANS them for our good and the good of others.

But THE question for me, what has stayed with me this week is this:

Maria, YOUR sufferings and those inflicting your family and friends, must they hinder you from giving aid and encouragement to fellow, but wounded image bearers?

Hearkening back to the dangerous work of resistance workers in Nazi-occupied France, I ask myself, can I not offer material and spiritual bread and water to the hurt?  Even as one of the wounded, can I still GIVE in the midst of this war?

Yes!

  • whether I am operating on little sleep,
  • whether I, myself, am crippled by my own sin or suffering,
  • whether my heart sorrows over the many cares of those I love,

Yes, I CAN be a giver of comfort, of encouragement.

Spies in EVERY war have carefully learned how to maneuver around and through enemy forces.  Now is no different. Warfare IS normal life, here on earth.  The good news is that there is a definite endpoint when the war will be past. Final victory has been legally declared by Jesus, the ‘Lamb who was Slain before the Creation of the World’ and He is coming back to claim His own.

In the meantime, as a crushed servant in the Lord’s Good News army, let me be a giver of cheer and comfort and leave a fragrant, lingering aroma of a Christ-filled servant.

 

 

 

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