“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

If the devil can’t make you bad…

When I returned from Israel almost 2 months ago, my summer calendar was relatively clear.  I was so excited.  I was going to take my time, go through all my notes, all my pictures, all my memories, and put together a wonderful scrapbook of one of the greatest times in my life.  SCRATCH!  Within one week of my return, my calendar showed very few unmarked squares for the next 11 weeks!  I’m  just coming up now for a few brief moments of air before going back under. 

There’s an old saying bouncing around in my head right now, leaving behind a dent of conviction with every hit:

If the devil can’t make you bad, he’ll make you busy!

Bad or busy:  One is as deadly as the other.  Both  keep us out of in-depth, intimate communion with God; both keep us from being filled with His Presence; both keep us from walking in His transcendent peace; both keep us from being fountains of living water refreshing other sojourners. 

As we drive down the highway of life, lots of things are stuffed into our “cars”: a spouse, children, parents, job, church, hobbies, quiet time, community clubs, service projects, exercise, Bible study, sleep, appointments — the list goes on and on!  And when time gets crunched, as it often does, what gets flung out the window?  Usually the important things; they always seem to get trumped by the urgent things.  Charles Hummel labeled this “the tyranny of the urgent.”  What’s amazing is that the important things are rarely urgent, and the urgent things are rarely important.  Yet the urgent things not only sit in the front seat of our “cars,” they oftentimes grab the wheel, while the important things sit patiently in the back seat. 

So how do you differentiate between the two?  How do you know if something is important or just urgent?  You must learn to look at each activity with an eternal eye.  Do so by asking a few questions: 

  • Will this activity have lasting results? 
  • What will be the effect of not doing it?  
  • Would God prefer I spend my time on this or something else?
  • Will this activity affect others and, if so, how? 
  • Will this action convert into a heavenly treasure or an earthly pile of rust?

I think you get the picture. 

FixThe activities that fill our lists fit into 1 of the 4 categories on the chart at left.  So take a piece of paper and divide it into 4 quadrants and label them like the chart.  Look at each item on your list , determine its importance-to-urgency ratio, and write the activity in the corresponding box.  Then start at the top right, using the following guide as much as possible:
  • Important and urgent — Do it first!
  • Important but not urgent — Delay it — but not for long!
  • Not important but urgent — Delegate it, if you can!
  • Not important and not urgent — Dump it when possible!

Yes, it takes time to analyze the eternal significance of your activities, but it’s well worth the effort and you’ll get faster as it becomes a habit.  In the end, some urgent things will still have to be done — or so your boss says!   And quality time with your spouse and children? Almost 100% important and urgent!

If the devil can’t make you bad, he’ll make you busy?  Well, the truth is the devil can’t really make a believer do anything he/she does not want to do.  We have total power over him. ** We can try to blame him for our badness or our busyness but they’re really the result of our own choices.  So begin today training yourself to focus on the important things in life.  The results are out of this world!

Command them to do go, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.

In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age,

so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.

1 Timothy 6:18-19

**1 John 4:4

Living Up for Christ: A Personal Testimony

“…you have given me the heritage of those who fear your name.”

(Psalm 61:5)

 What a blessing to grow up in a strong Christian household, where my father and my older sister modeled Christ for me.  At the ripe old age of 8, I knew who Jesus was and what He had done for me, and I loved Him.  I accepted His sacrifice for my sins and asked Him to save me.  And He did.question mark

 Because He died for me, I wanted to live for Him. I wanted to be like my sister and be a living testimony to others.  But I kept messing up, causing feelings of self-doubt and unworthiness to plague me.  Thus, at every revival or youth trip, I walked the aisle and rededicated myself to Christ with the promise of doing better.  But, alas, I couldn’t do it.  Mistake followed mistake followed mistake…

 Just after I turned 15, I attended a youth retreat to Mt. Nebo, Arkansas.  There God revealed to me the nexus of my problem: I was saved but not surrendered. I still thought of Christianity as a religion not a relationship, and I was trying to live by a set of do’s and don’ts instead of by the Spirit. 

 So on August 21, 1974, I stopped living for Christ; instead, I started learning how to let Christ live through me. I stopped wanting to do good for God and started wanting to know God.  What a difference!  Since that time, I’ve been perfect!  No, not really.  I still mess up — quite a lot actually — but rather than pursuing perfection, I’m pursuing a Person and my perfection rests in Him.

 God is not only my Savior and my Lord, He’s also my friend – and what a friend He is! 

When I fall, He catches me. 

When I sin, He chastens me.

When I feel anxious, He calms me.

When I’m hurt, He comforts me. 

He never fails me,

never disappoints me,

never ignores me. 

He’s my protector and my provider,

my strength and my song,

my love and my joy. 

Oh, how I love Him!exclamation  mark

 And that’s what I try to pass on through Live Up! Ministries. I want help Christians know this mighty God of ours, to grow in their relationship with His precious Son, and to learn to walk in the power of His Spirit. I want to encourage “question mark Christians” to stop walking around with eyes downcast, heads hanging, and hearts burdened and to start looking up, living up, and being exclamation marks for God!

“Only let us LIVE UP to what we have already attained [in Christ].”

Philippians 3:16 (emphasis mine)

 

Only let us LIVE UP to what we have already attained [in Christ Jesus].

Philippians 3:16

This, too, shall pass

My hip is hurting this morning after tripping over a box in the hall last night. My house seems to be riddled with booby traps these days since my son moved back home.

While going through a nasty divorce, he was laid off from work, his apartment lease ran out, and his dog (his child!) went missing. Physically drained, financially shaky, and emotionally bankrupt, he moved home to heal and to get a new start. After setting some ground rules, I encouraged him with his grandmother’s favorite saying, “Keep your chin up, honey, for this, too, shall pass.”

Whether it’s a son, a friend, or a coworker, sometimes the problems of others spill over into your own life. How do you deal with it? As a servant of Christ, how do you help troubled people remain functional and productive? How do you help without taking the burdens upon yourself?Small pic

Consider these four suggestions for handling this ticklish task:  

Determine the extent of your help. Whether it’s giving them space, getting a group to provide assistance, or referring them to counseling, be careful to help and not to hinder. Too little help can create more problems; too much help can actually prevent them from coping. The trick is to find the balance and that requires planning.

Specify the lifetime of the arrangement. For example, set a time limit on how long you should provide assistance. Deadlines may not work in all settings; however, setting some guidelines helps keep the person’s focus on finding solutions.

Spell out expectations. In other words, discuss your plan of action with this person. Be specific on what you expect of him or her, what you are willing to do, and how others will be allowed to help.

Communicate diligently. Talk regularly about their progress. Focus on whether or not the help you’re providing is achieving its purpose. Make adjustments as necessary.

Sometimes we have to make adjustments in order to help others get through rough times. The key is doing enough to resolve the problems without doing too much and prolonging them.

As for my son, he’s gotten a job, is registered for school, and is smiling again. My prodigal has come home and the fatted calf is on the grill. So what if my grocery bill has doubled? So what if my dining room has been converted into a bedroom? So what if the corner hutch that used to house my antique crystal is now home to his boxers, tees, and socks? He’s worth it. Besides…this, too, shall pass.

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair, persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed…For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  (2 Corinthians 4:8, 17)