Tornadoes of Eternal Change

I’m watching the news tonight as yet another night of tornadoes rips across the southern plains.  With devastation two weeks ago in Tuscaloosa, AL, two days ago in Joplin, MO, this afternoon in Oklahoma City, and tonight in Dallas, TX — and possibly Joplin again! — homes are destroyed, family members lost or dead, lives changed — forever. 

We all watch and cry with the victims.  It makes no sense.  I just can’t imagine it: one moment you’re sitting at the lying in bed or driving home from work and the next you’re being pulled out of a pile of rubble.  Then the questions erupt: What happened?  How did it happen?  Why did it happen?  God, what’s going on?

It just so happens (of course, nothing really “just happens”) that I am reading — for the 3rd time — Chuck Swindoll’s book Job: A Man of Heroic Endurance.  Job has lost all of his possessions, all his means of income, all his hired help, all the comforts of living well, and then “…another messenger came and said, ‘Your sons and daughters were feasting and drinking wine at the oldest brother’s house, when suddenly a mighty wind swept in from the desert and struck the four corners of the house. It collapsed on them and they are dead…'” (Job 1:18-19).  Many theologians believe the “mighty wind” was a twister.  Yes, Job had travelled down the same road where these victims are traveling tonight.  And Job responded with worship, without blaming God for any wrongdoing.  Amazing.

I’ve read the first chapter of the book of Job a hundred times and it never ceases to amaze me.  He lost everything, yet he never blamed God or aske, “Why me?”  I might have gotten to the worship — eventually — but I would have probably passed through all the stages of grief first, taking each one very slowly.

Swindoll notes four principles that emerge in this first chapter of Job — four principles that are difficult to understand but nonetheless true.  The victims of the tornadoes will probably not want to read these right now.  They will eventually, after they grieve.  But each one of us could stand being reminded of these — now, before a “tornado of eternal change”  strikes our lives.

Principle One:  There is an enemy we encounter we cannot see…but he is real.   Just because Satan is invisible to the human eye does not mean he is not real.  And he is a formidable, relentless foe.  He deceives; he accuses; he torments; he tempts; he destroys.  Whatever it takes to bring you down, he’ll try it.  But remember, dear believers, that greater is He that is in you than he who is in the world.  You have power over him.

Principle Two: There are trials we endure we do not deserve, but they are permitted God is, indeed, sovereign over all the universe and over everything that happens within it.  He either causes, prevents, or allows.  Which one He chooses is totally His call.  Therefore, nothing comes into your life that has not passed through His will.   “In the mystery of God’s unfathomable will, we can never explain or fully understand.  Do not try to grasp each thread of His profound plan.  if you resist my counsel here, you’ll become increasingly more confused, ultimately resentful, and finally bitter.  At that point, Satan will have won the day.”  Accept what comes; endure it; win the day.

Principle Three:  There is a plan we explore we will not understand, but it is best.  Though each piece of God’s plan may not seem fair or pleasant, it works toward God’s ultimate purpose and is, therefore, good.  Corrie ten Boom once compared God’s plan to a tapestry.  We see only the small section that is our life and we view it from the underside.  All we see is threads running in all different directions, with knots, tangles, and frayed strings.  But God sees the whole tapestry — and from the top where all the threads make a beautiful design.  Trust the Designer.

Principle Four: There are consequences we experience we could not anticipate, but they are necessary.  Chances are you’re going through something right now that is unfair, something you don’t deserve.  Perhaps you’ve complained — or whined — to God, tossing up all kinds of questions to Him.  “Trust me here.  What has happened is a necessary part of your spiritual growth.  Yes, necessary.”  For it will shape you and hone you to be who and what God wants you to be — and for a purpose.  Be soft clay in the Potter’s hands and let Him have His way. 

Tornadoes of eternal change come in many forms and they come to each and every one of us.  Though they spring up out of nowhere, they should not surprise us for they are a part of life.  Though we may not deserve them, we must endure them.  Though we may not understand them, we must realize they have purpose.  Though we may want to run as fast and as far away from them as we can, we should embrace them as opportunities to see God work, to grow in His image, and to bring Him glory. 

“There is no pit so deep but that He is not deeper still.”

Corrie ten Boom

“Lord, I’m done!”

Ephesians 6:12 says, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” But, O how physical and emotional are the effects of this spiritual battle!  How many times have I run to my mentor, “Mrs. Wisdom,” pouring out my weak and weary heart to her?   

 “You’re on the front lines, Donna,” my mentor would often say.  “You must expect enemy attack when you openly serve the Lord.”  And so I trudged on.  But how much longer can I fight?

 ~ ~ ~

How long, O Lord?  How long?  I’m so tired.  I’m battle-weary.  The enemy is too strong and too crafty.  I’ve got nothing left.  I could handle him when he came at me personally.  I could handle him when he attacked my marriage.  I could handle him when he began to go after my children, but all three? My “pride of life” has taken such a fall that I hardly know him anymore.  My “joy of life” has dimmed and continues to struggle on.  And my “spice of life” is being poured out, searching and seeking everywhere but not for You.  My heart is shattered.  It’s more than I can bear.

 The desire to study your Word is waning.  And how can I go on teaching and writing when I’m so empty and fatigued?  Let me hide on the pew Sunday mornings like most do and forget the rest. Let me get an outside job and use the well-worn “I can’t because I work” excuse – at least for a little while.  I’m done, Lord.  I can’t fight anymore.

 Job?  Yes, Lord, I remember my friend Job – the suffering, righteous man to whom I’ve turned so many times before.  Yes, Father, I will look at him once again…

 ~ ~ ~

 Yes, Father, I see.  Like Job, I have lost financially, lost what few luxuries I had and, in a way, lost my children.  But there is still hope, isn’t there?  As long as there is breath in their lungs and in mine, there is still hope!  I cannot – I will not – let Satan win.  Because also like Job…

 

I know that my Redeemer lives,
   and that in the end he will stand upon my grave.
And after my skin has been destroyed,
   yet in my flesh I will see God;
I myself will see him
   with my own eyes—I, and not another.
   How my heart yearns within me![1]

 

I will see you, God!  I will stand before my Redeemer! My heart years within me…

…yearns to be confident before You and not shrink away.[2]

…yearns to receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom.[3]

…yearns to endure in You that I might reign with You.[4]

…yearns to hear You say, “Well done…Come and share your Master’s happiness!”[5]

Praise You, my Father, the Rock on which I stand and the Arms into which I fall!  Blessed be Your name!  You and You alone are my strength!  So…

 

Do not gloat over me, my enemy!
   Though I have fallen, I will rise.
Though I sit in darkness,
   the LORD will be my light.[6] 

 

(You hear me, Satan?  I’m not giving up – I’m getting up!  And God is with me!)

 


[1] Job 19:25-27

[2] 1 John 2:28

[3] 2 Peter 1:11

[4] 2 Timothy 2:11

[5] Matthew 25:21

[6] Micah 7:8

I’m in the Resurrection Business!

Well, maybe not exactly.  Let me explain.

Early in July, I was looking at my calendar and realized that after I returned on August 2 from a business trip, I had absolutely no work left on my 2010 calendar.  I began to worry because, with all the battles we’re fighting at this point in our lives, my husband and I really need my extra income.  (Not to mention the fact that I’ve grown quite fond of eating!)  I immediately took my worry to God; He immediately reminded me of a prayer I prayed back in April. 

In my April 15 post entitled “Has Anyone Seen God Lately?” I wrote about a list of 5 Impossible Things that God wanted me to do.  I mentioned that I faltered on the 5th one so God did it for me.  Well, that didn’t exactly pan out like I thought.  You see, the 5th item was, “Quit URS” (my current job), but I just could not give up that paycheck.  Then my manager — the only person who uses my contract services — left the company.  I thought God had worked it all out because “no manager” meant “no work” for me — or so I thought. 

Rather than BUST, my job went BOOM!  May, June, and July were filled with more work than I’d had in a long while.  I thought, “Oh, no.  God is not going to do this for me.  Apparently He wants me to take the step — no the leap! — of faith, quit my job, and then He’ll do the impossible and provide for me.”  I thought about quitting; I prayed about quitting; I talked about quitting; but I couldn’t quit.

After a couple of weeks, I fell to my knees and confessed, “See, God? I just can’t do it. My flesh is too strong and my faith is too weak.  I know that You can do all things, but I can’t.  I just can’t quit this job that pays me so well at this time when we need it so badly.  Father, I don’t mean to be disobedient but if you want me to quit this job, then I need You to do it.  For me, it’s impossible.” 

As I sat there that hot July day, looking at my empty calendar and remembering the prayer I had prayed, I marveled at how completely God had done it for me.  The BOOM had finally turned to BUST.  When I say I had no work, I mean I had NO work:  no business trip to take, no training to present, no projects to complete, and, thus, not even emails to answer.  I looked up to heaven and said, “Okay, Lord, now what?  I’m trusting you to come through as You always have.  Show me how we are going to make it without this job.” 

My friends, within 1 hour after I prayed that prayer, the phone rang.  It was my nephew.  “Aunt Donna, how would you like to go to work with me?”

Well, to make a long story short, I am now fitting heart patients with the LifeVest (a wearable defibrilllator) while they await heart surgery.  Over 400 patients have been resuscitated by the vest this year alone!  I’ll be working with people at a very critical time in their lives and helping to calm their fears.  And, I won’t be traveling  so that I can spend more time working on my writing ministry.

When I hung up the phone, I thought, “Hey, I’m in the resurrection business!  I’m helping revive tired, physical hearts back into life-giving action and helping revive tired, spiritual hearts back into wholehearted devotion!” 

Yes, I know: Only God is truly in the resurrection business.   But I’m so grateful to my awesome Father for hearing the honest heart cry from his scared little child.  He heard my confession and moved on my behalf.  From my heart to Yours, Father, I love you!

For God is greater than our hearts,
and he knows everything. 

1 John 3:20b

(PS: Please forgive my lack of writing.  I have been snowed under trying to make the transition from one job to another.  Right now, I have 2 jobs vying for my time along with my personal life that’s pretty active right now, too.  Hopefully, things will calm down soon!  After a month of silence, thank you for returning!)

Has anyone seen God lately?

It’s amazing to me how you can take a Bible study several times and it’s like a new study each time.  That’s the way Experiencing God by Henry Blackaby has been for me.  I first took the study about 15 years ago.  Since then, I’ve taught it twice and am now taking it again. 

One morning I was doing my homework and read something that really struck me.

What our world often witnesses today is a devoted, committed Christian or church serving God.  But they are not seeing God.  They don’t see anything happening that can be explained only in terms of God’s activity.  Why?  Because we are not attempting anything that only God can do. (page 143)

Ouch!  The truth of that paragraph cut me all the way down to the quick!  No one was seeing God through me because I wasn’t attempting anything God-sized.  I’d been doing a lot of little good things for God, but I wasn’t asking Him to do anything God-sized through me.  (I walked around for days with a spiritual black eye from that one-two-truth punch!)Note pad - small

After I apologized to God for hiding Him from others, I asked, “Lord, what would You like to do through me?”  Almost immediately, God gave me a list of 5 Impossible Things.  I hurriedly wrote each item down, looked at the list, and exclaimed, “You must be kidding!  There’s no way! Well, that’s what I get for asking!” 

After reflecting on the list for a while and realizing that these 5 Impossible Things could only be done by a powerful God through a willing soul, I made one more request, “Please, Lord, open my spiritual eyes. Far too often I have asked for something and then gone about my day, forgetting what I had asked, blind to Your movement upon the request.  So please, Lord, keep these 5 Impossible Things fresh on my heart so that when You begin to move, I’ll see it and move with You; so that when You begin to supply what is needed, I’ll see it and use it for Your purpose; so that when You open the door of opportunity, I’ll see it and step right on through.”

My friend, let me tell you something: God did those 5 Impossible Things — and He did them in less than one month!  I even faltered on the 5th item, the biggest challenge, but you know what?  He did it for me!  Amazing!

I’d love to tell you what those things were but other people are involved and I need to respect their privacy.  Did they see God?  I have no idea, but I sure did.  And seeing Him move so clearly has given me a renewed sense of strength, a refreshed taste of faith, a restored heart of devotion.  Now, whenever I approach a hill that seems too high to climb or a valley that seems too low to cross, I’ll just remember those 5 Impossible Things and the All-Things-Are-Possible God who did them.  At the top of my spiritual lungs, I’ll sing with the Psalmist:

I will remember the deeds of the LORD;

yes, I will remenmber your miracles of long ago.

I will meditate on all your works

and consider all your mighty deeds.

Your ways, O God, are holy.

What god is so great as our God?

Psalm 77:11-13

Has anyone seen God lately — through you? 

Dough, Dirt, and Coal

 “You mean, God allowed this to happen to me? Why didn’t He stop it? Or why didn’t He at least make it a little less painful?”  Ever been guilty of asking those questions?  I confess: I’m guilty! 

Sometimes bad things come into our lives because of our own poor choices.  God forgives our sin when we confess it but He still allows the  consequences to come.  What an effective teacher consequences can be!  Sometimes, however, God may actually bring a trial or hardship upon us or allow someone else’s poor choices to affect us. Why?  Not being God, I couldn’t say; but knowing God, I can say with confidence that He has a definite purpose in doing so and that it’s for our good.

What could His purpose be? How could it be for our good?  To understand, let’s look at 3 illustrations.

 

dough

  • Bread
  • First, dough.  Dough rises as it fills with air bubbles.  If baked at this point, the loaf would be uneven, deformed, filled with holes, and covered with wart-like bubbles. It might smell good and taste okay but, being an unsightly mess, few would be compelled to eat it.  So to get the air bubbles out, the baker has to punch the dough down, knead it and fold it over and over — actually treating the dough quite brutally — until it’s smooth, elastic, and rises evenly.  The dough is better but it’s still fairly useless.

The baker, however, knows just what to do:  He places the dough in an oven and turns up the heat!  He knows just the right temperature and just the right amount of time to leave the dough in that hot environment.  The result? A delicious, aromatic, life-sustaining loaf of bread.  And who can resist a slice of that?

 

drought

fertile garden

Second, dirt.  Dry, barren land becomes as hard as rock and good for nothing but walking on.  It draws no animals, hosts no plants, and decreases in value.  The farmer, however, knows just what to do: He comes at it with a hose and a tiller!  He applies water to soften the ground and then tills it, first breaking it into large chunks and then into smaller and smaller pieces.  At this point, the hard, dry ground has only changed into soft, wet dirt.  It’s still not ready to receive seed. 

So the farmer pours on a lot of stinking stuff!  Too little fertilizer leaves the soil undernourished; too much, however, will “burn” the soil.  Not to worry: the farmer knows the exact amount needed.  The result?  Lush, fertile soil that’s ready for seed!  Such soil has the ability to produce abundant crops and, thus, to nourish thousands!

 

Coal

beautiful_diamond

 

Finally, coal. Coal is a black, messy ore.  Everywhere the coal touches it leaves behind a dirty smudge. But under pressure — intense pressure — the chunk of coal becomes a diamond in the rough!  And a rough diamond is more desireable than a lump of coal, right?  Yet even then, the coal has not reached its full potential.

The jeweler, however, knows just what to do: He comes at it with a cleaver! After cleaving the large stone into smaller pieces, He places 2 rough diamonds on a lathe in such a way that they spin in opposite directions, grinding against each other to make them rounded.  The jeweler then cuts the facets — 58 to be exact — and, finally, gives the diamond a bath in acid to remove any residue that might dull its appearance.  The result? A beautiful, sparkling, precious jewel!  And who doesn’t want one of those?

 

The kneading and the hot oven, the tilling and the fertilizer, the pressure, cleaving, grinding, faceting, and acid — they’re all trials and hardships the dough, dirt, and coal must endure in order to become delicious bread, fertile soil, and valuable diamonds. 

Which picture above illustrates your spiritual condition?  Are you a lumpy, sticky mess of dough?  Then yield yourself to the Baker and let Him knead you until all your impurities are released. Let Him “bake” you until you are like the Bread of Life, nourishing others and leaving everywhere the aroma of Christ.  Are you spiritually dry, barren, and hard? Let the Gardener apply the water of His Word to soften you, the tiller of His will to break you, and the fertilizer — yes, even the stinky stuff — of life to enrich you so that you can bear much fruit.  Or, are you a lump of smutty coal?  Don’t let the pressures of life or the grinding from other “rough diamonds” break you; rather let them turn you into a well-rounded gem.  Then let the Jeweler cleave, facet, and polish you until He can shine through you and cast His Light upon the paths of others. 

Why does God allow junk into your life?  Maybe, just maybe, He desires to turn you into…

… a loaf of bread that nourishes others with hope and perseverance, or

… a field of fertile soil that grows abundant, fruit-bearing crops, or

… a precious diamond that sparkles with the glory of God!

He has a purpose and it’s for your good.  So TRUST HIM!

“I don’t think I can do this!”

Today as I boarded a plane to Charlotte, NC, a 40-something-year-old woman sat down across the aisle from me.  She was obviously a little nervous, moving her lips silently and making the sign of the cross several times (touching finger from forehead to breastbone, from right shoulder to left). 

I turned to speak to her but before I could open my mouth, she said, “I’m not crazy! I’ve just never flown before in my whole life and I’m a bit scared.” While I was reassuring her that all would be well, I was thinking, “Well, so much for that work I was going to do in-flight.”

“Do you fly a lot?” she asked. 

“Quite often,” I replied.  “There’s nothing to it.  No, no, hon. Turn the buckle around the other way like this.  See?  It snaps right in.  There you go.”

“How tight do I tighten it? It’s got to be really, really tight, doesn’t it?” she asked, pulling the belt with all her might.

“Oh, no! That’s too tight!  You need to be able to breath easily.  There, that’s good.  Now just sit back and…

Frightened woman-small“Why are you sitting on the aisle side?  Don’t you like looking out the window? You get scared, don’t you? It’s scary, isn’t it? I don’t know if I can do this!” Her voice pitched higher and higher with each question. Then she abruptly turned and slammed down the window shade.

“No, no! I like the aisle because you have more arm room and you can get up easier if you need to get something or to go to the bathroom.  Actually, I like looking out the window, too.  It’s very beautiful.  Now just relax and…

“What’s that? What was that noise?” she asked, jerking herself upright, her eyes as big as saucers.

“It’s okay. It’s okay. The flight attendant just closed the door.  That’s a good noise; you want to hear that noise!” I joked, trying to ease her tensions.

“I’m sorry!  I’m just so nervous. I’ve never done this before. I’ve heard stories. I just don’t know if I can do this!”

I was trying to calm her down with another witty comment when the flight attendant, who heard what was going on, offered to let the woman sit on the front row close to her.  “That way, at each step of the way, I can prepare you for what’s going to happen next and hopefully make your first flight a great experience for you.”

The woman gave a frightful look my way. And I, being the compassionate, patient, kind and loving person that I am, said, “Go!”  Of course, I meant it for her own good, don’t you know. 

“And we urge you…encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone.”*

(Oops!)

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people…clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”**

(Ouch!)

“If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing…Love is patient, love is kind…”***

(Uh oh!)

“Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.”****

(Excuse me — I’ll be right back after this short prayer break!)

As the plane streaked down the runway and lifted into the air, the woman said, “Is that it? Wow!  That wasn’t so bad!”  Throughout the entire flight, the attendant spoke softly to the woman, letting her know what to expect and gently answering her myriad of questions. By the time we reached our destination, the woman was sitting in the windowseat, shade up, marveling at how the earth looks from 30,000 feet. What a transformation!

You know, I failed to show this woman the love of God, but she and the flight attendant surely showed it to me!  How  much like the woman I am — frightened little child at times, seeing and hearing danger all around me, anxious about every little thing, asking question after question.

And God? He’s like the flight attendant: He comes to me in my time of need. He’s patient and compassionate. He answers each question with tenderness, never calling them “dumb” questions. He calms my fears, bidding me to be anxious for nothing but to trust Him.

The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love…

As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him…”

(Psalm 103:8 & 13)

Thank you, Lord, for being my “flight attendant”; for being patient with me as I travel on this journey called life; for gently talking to me the entire way and answering all my questions; for being compassionate and kind to me when I’m like a frightened little child; and for loving me with Your abounding love!

 

*1 Thessalonians 5:14     **Colossians 3:12     ***1 Corinthians 13:1-4     ****James 4:17

This Valley I Tread

 
When times are good, be happy;
but when times are bad, consider:
God has made the one as well as the other.
 
(Ecclessiates 7:14)
 
 
Hard times.  I hate ’em!  Yet they’re sure to come.  And just as night follows day, hard times often follow high times.

One month you can be on Mountain Path, enjoying a spectacular view, bountiful blessings, and intimate moments with God (see Nov 12 blog post).  The next thing you know, you’re on a bumpy ride down Valley Trail, dodging potholes, searching for a right turn, and focusing intently on the directions of your GPS (God’s Precious Spirit).

If you could “GoogleEarth” me today, that’s where you’d find me unfortunately.

Hmm.  Let’s mark out that last word.  Is it unfortunate that I’m here in the Valley?  No, I don’t think so.  I’m not here as a matter of fortune but as a matter of purpose. There’s a lot of work to be done here — most of it on me!

You see, this is not the Valley of Sin. I’m not here because of sin I’ve committed (I’ve actually been more obedient lately than usual!).  No, this is a different valley: a valley where wars are fought, where lessons are learned, where painful fires burn as they purify and purge before propelling the traveller upward again!

It’s the Valley of Intimacy, where a child might be instructed by her Father; where a servant might receive orders from his Master; where a faithful yet weary sojourner might be reinvigorated by Living Water; where the purpose of a pot is further molded by his Potter; where a branch might be pruned by her Gardener; or where the army of God defends a soldier against his attacker.

Oh, it’s not an easy place to travel!  There’s rugged terrain and dry desserts to cross which often lead to some “vehicle” maintenance.  Yet there’s an oft-missed beauty about this Valley. It’s a place where one rests in God’s arms beneath her, feels His presence beside her, listens to His Spirit inside her, and relies on His stance above her.  And if one can keep her focus on the purpose of the Valley of Intimacy and the destination that lies ahead, then there can be joy in the journey.

As a preacher said on his television program yesterday, “When you are down to nothing, God is up to something!”  How true!  When we are out of gas, out of resources, and out of power, God takes the wheel — and you better have on your spiritual seatbelt because it’s always an awesome ride from “nothing” toward “something”!

Good times and bad: “God has made the one as well as the other.” And who is He?

He is God Most High;

He is Father Most Precious;

He is Love Most Pure;

He is Grace Most Abundant —

and we can trust Him! 

 

Lost Faith?

From shepherd boy to King of Israel, David’s love for and faith in God astound me.  He was not a perfect man, but he did have perfect trust. So when I read 2 Samuel 15, I was surprised. 

David’s son Absalom is conspiring to overthrow his father and take over his throne.  When David hears about it, he flees!  David flees?  David? The man who, as a boy, killed both a bear and a lion with his own hands just to save a sheep? The young man who killed Goliath with one small stone?  The warrior so valiant in battle that the women praised him above King Saul?  The man relentlessly pursued by Saul but who refused to lift a hand against him?  This is not one who flees; this is one who fights!

Why, then, did David flee when faced with a foe inferior to himself?  David had lost faith — not in God but in himself.  David knew that God was sovereign, that God had placed him on the throne, and that God had blessed him with mighty victories.  But David also knew he was only a man, a man enveloped in weak flesh. 

You see, by this time, David had committed adultery with Bathsheba and had killed her husband Uriah with the sword of the Ammonites; David’s oldest son Amnon had raped David’s daughter Tamar, and David did nothing about it (probably thinking, “Who am I to judge and punish?”); David’s third son Absalom had avenged his sister Tamar by killing Amnon — and, still, David did nothing.

David’s mind probably went back to disobedient King Saul and how God had removed the anointing from Saul and placed it upon David.  He probably thought, “Who am I to be king of Israel? I am a far worse sinner than Saul.  I’ve lost control over myself and over my own family.  Perhaps it is the Lord’s will to remove His anointing from me and to place it upon my son Absalom.”

Physically, David fled; he no longer trusted himself. Spiritually, however, David remained firm; he continued to trust in God. “If I find favor in the LORD’s eyes, he will bring me back…But if he says, ‘I am not pleased with you,’ then I am ready; let him do to me whatever seems good to him” (2 Samuel 15:25-26).question - small

Have you been in David’s shoes? Have you felt as though you had fallen too far?  Fallen, not beyond the reach of God and His salvation, but beyond God’s desire to anoint and use you?

“How could God use me after what I’ve done?”

“Failure: that’s all I am and all I do!”

“God may forgive me, but they won’t. So how can He use me now?”

Take heart, my friend!  God is not finished with you yet!  He is our Blessed Redeemer and He can redeem anyONE and anyTHING!  God not only can redeem you in spite of your “stuff”; He can also redeem your stuff!

Consider Saul of Tarsus. God redeemed Saul, turning Saul the mercenary into Paul the missionary and using his “stuff” (his past) to teach others of God’s transforming power and unlimited grace. 

Consider Peter. Not only was he a disciple of Christ, he was also one of Jesus’ most intimate friends. Yet when his Friend needed him most, Peter denied Him.  God redeemed Peter, however, and used his “stuff” (fear and denial) to inspire others to fearless discipleship.

The Bible is full of such stories of redemption — redemption not only of the person but also of their past.

Do you need a Redeemer?  Do you have a past that needs redemption? Have you experienced great failure even though you are a Christian? My friend, you’re not alone! The Church is full of people in need of redemption.  The problem? We’ve not surrendered everything to Christ.  We’ve been taught that, once saved, we’re supposed to have it all together, that we don’t make huge mistakes any more, that we are to be holy in and of ourselves.

Surrender: it”s what sets David, Paul, and Peter apart from believers today.  Though they fled, feared, or failed, they still trusted God!  They trusted Him not only with their present and their future; they also trusted Him with their past!

Surrender your past to the LORD and “let Him do to [you] whatever seems good to Him.”  Surrender it and be amazed at His redemptive power!

(PS — David did see Jerusalem and the ark of the covenant of God again!  Just because David had faltered, God had not forgotten him. He took care of his enemy and restored David to his throne. Oh, what a blessed Redeemer we serve!)

Wimps in Giant Clothing

“You come against me with sword and spear and javelin,

but I come against you in the name of the LORD Almighty…”

1 Samuel 17:45

Giants. They’re everywhere. Problems that seem to have no answers. Enemies that seem larger than life. Deep, dark valleys that seem insurmountable. When facing a giant, look very closely: most giants are really just wimps in giant clothing.

Take Goliath, for example.  A Philistine champion who stood 9 feet tall, Goliath was covered from head to foot in armor: a bronze helmet on his head, a 125-pound coat of scale armor on his body, and bronze graves on his legs. He held a spear as big as a weaver’s rod with a 15-pound point at the end, along with a bronze javelin slung on his back. And as if all that weren’t enough, a shield bearer stood before him.  Pretty fierce presence, right?  And it was working.

King Saul and all of the Israelites were dismayed and terrified at the sight and sound of Goliath. Each morning, the Israelites would take their battle positions and start shouting their war cry. While they were still shouting, Goliath would come out from the Philistine camp and defy the Israelite army, calling for Israel’s champion to come out and fight him one-on-one. And every  morning Israel ran in great fear back to the camp. This went on for 40 days.

Enter a young shepherd boy named David, sent by his father to bring his 7 soldier-brothers some good home cooking. When David arrived, he couldn’t believe his eyes and ears. “What?” he asked.  “Who is this guy that has the gall to defy the armies of the living God?” Reports of David’s comments reached King Saul. David & GoliathDavid appeared before the king and said, “Let no one lose heart. I’ll face the giant!”

Now get this picture: The average adult Israelite is less than 6 feet tall and David was just a young man, probably more like 5’7 or so. Goliath was over 9 feet tall! (Put a yardstick on top of your head to get an idea of the difference.)  David was in simple shepherd clothing; Goliath was covered in armor. David had only his staff, 5 smooth stones, and a sling; Goliath had huge, heavy-duty weapons. 

In spite of Goliath’s ferocious appearance and words, David knew he was just a wimp. What tipped him off? Even with all his massive size and weapons, Goliath never came out from behind his shield-bearer! Wherever Goliath went, his shield-bearer went before him. What a big chicken! What a wimp!

David understood wimpy giants; their bark is worse than their bite. While Goliath moved toward David spewing his venomous threats and taunts, David calmly and confidently replied, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the LORD Almighty…This day the LORD will hand you over to me…for the battle is the LORD’S…” Then David “ran quickly toward the battle line,” took out his sling and stone, and “without a sword in his hand he struck down the Philistine…”

When facing a giant of any kind, you need more than just a war cry, just a bunch of windy words. You need faith. A simple, smooth stone flung in faith hits its mark every time. Why? Because “the battle is the LORD’S”!

So no matter what giant you come up against, respond to it like David did: Run right up to the battle line, look it right in the eye, and declare victory in the name of the LORD. More often than not, you’ll find that the giant is merely a Goliath — a wimp in giant clothing!