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.  

What’s the big deal?

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dust

And God said to Adam and Eve: “…… you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”  (or as the Amplified version puts it….you started out as dirt, you’ll end up dirt. (Genesis 3:19b)

I was upset with myself for messing up, YET AGAIN.  When I go down that road of self-recriminations, I tune out others and withdraw, my pride wounded.  It’s hard to shake that mood.  But the next morning during my Bible reading, I read God’s reminder to our first parents.  The next thought was: “Why do you expect more from yourself, Maria?  After all, you’re just DUST!”

What an equalizing and humbling assessment.  Taken a step further, if I am just an animated collection of dust, then so are you. So why fear or worry what a fellow assemblage of dirt thinks of me!

Lest you feel TOO wormy, remember God’s words in Isaiah – “Do not be afraid, O worm Jacob, O little Israel, for I myself will help you,” declares the Lord”, Isaiah 41:14)

Though we are little and powerless without God, we who belong to Him are fiercely loved.  Consider what God says via the prophet Jeremiah: “The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.” – Jeremiah 31:3

Can you even take that in?  That the all powerful, omniscient, holy God has always and forever loved you, if you are His redeemed child?

  • Even before He created the universe…
  • Even before Jesus walked on this planet and died for you….
  • Even before your parents were a couple and then birthed you….

….the happy, triune God set His love on YOU!!!  And He will continue to love you.

Yes, we are dust and worms in one sense.

But we are special collections of dust with certain characteristics that image Him.  And evidently His plans to showcase His glory and magnify His joy include loving, creating and redeeming us!  Now THAT’s the big deal!

The power of wives and wrong decisions

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I almost pulled an ‘Eve’ on my husband. 

Eve and the apple

Standing in front of a cage at Sarge’s Animal Rescue, Mike held Jason, the kitten he had previewed earlier in the week.  This orange tabby had been brought in with his litter brother a few weeks earlier. We had made the rational decision to seek just one kitten to bring home to lonely Luther.  In the space of 3 months, Luther had lost Leia, our feline matriarch AND Calvin, his brother from whom he had not been apart in 8 1/2 years.

For the past 2 months, Luther has cried and cried and cried.  (Mike works from home, so he has been the one to witness this constant plaintive and ‘annoying’ expression of cat grief.)

We’ve had the pattern of adopting cats in pairs, but had arrived at the conclusion that we should bring home only one kitty this time.  Money considerations as well as a fear of overwhelming poor Luther were good reasons.

But when I stood in front of that cage and thought of the poor little gray kitten who would soon be left behind, I put Mike on the spot by asking, “Are you sure it’s the right decision to adopt only one? We’d be separating the brothers.”

And Mike reacted like Adam, “I’ll let you make the decision”  (aka:  whatever makes you happy)

Now maybe a husband who just wants to please his wife sounds ideal to some women.  But it’s wrong if it’s used as an across-the-board principle.  What SCARES me is that I came really close to letting an emotional reaction arbitrate and replace a rational decision we had made together.  What ALSO is frightening is the degree of power we wives have available to us, vis à vis our husbands.  Women know how to play on a husband’s antipathy to standing up to possible emotional pressure from us.  They call it, ‘pleasing their wives‘.  Of course men are to be considerate and love their wives, but that doesn’t mean ALWAYS giving in. Men are called to be wise but firm leaders.  And that can be painful as men have to weather female drama.

In the end, an ever so slight whisper from the Holy Spirit pushed me away from the brink and I came back to my senses and said, “No, we made the decision just to select one. And this little one seems the calmer of the two.  He’ll be a better fit for Luther.”  I then turned to the volunteer hovering to help us.  “Will Jason’s brother be adopted soon, do you think?”

“Without a doubt,” came the reply, “kittens go quickly.”   And with a sigh of relief, I felt affirmed in sticking to our original decision.

I pray that next time, if I am tempted to push Mike in a similar situation, I’ll flee before I even flirt with that apple, no matter how tasty it looks.

Jason on the sofa - 8 Mar

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