Saturday, September 21, 2013

Your Love

I can't even come up with the words to describe the scene. It was the most beautiful full rainbow I've ever seen. If that weren't enough it's a double rainbow with the brightest, most brilliant colors. Behind it was a setting sun with exquisite light displays reflecting back upon the ROYGBIV hues. The presence of The Lord was so strong, overarching the entire scene.

We weren't alone when we stopped on the side of the road. Dozens of cars were pulling over, snapping pictures and staring in awe at the wonderment before us. 

Thank You, Lord. That's all I could find myself saying as tears welled in my eyes at the brilliant majesty He had put on display. 

I suddenly realized I had gotten out of the car so quickly to snap pictures that I'd left my door wide open. I could hear the song on the radio, so fitting for the scene I was soaking in. 

Your love never fails
It never gives up
It never runs out on me....
And on and on and on and on it goes
Yes, it overwhelms and satisfies my soul
And I never ever have to be afraid
This one thing remains...
Your love never fails...

Truly I was staring into the blessed message of my Lord's love, wondrously written in brilliant colors, telling of the endless love and promise He has for me as it scrawled out across the sky.  

My soul was overwhelmed to say the least. On and on and on it went, stretching across the sky in full display. I'd never seen a full rainbow before but here it was in vibrant message reminding me of His unfailing love. 

Just minutes before I'd hung up FaceTime with my boy. I blew him a kiss and told him I love him. He blew me one back. It will still be a few more days before I get to kiss his face. It's heartache like I've never known and it happens on repeat.

But I stood there on the side of the road soaking in the magnificence of the work of my Master knowing full well His love was big enough, long enough, deep enough to stretch across the expanse of the sky. To reach down to me and my aching heart, to stretch all the way to my son miles away. Close enough to be the embrace I felt from behind as the man I love whispered of God's promises as he choked back tears. Strong enough to conquer any fear. Fierce enough to tackle any battle. Higher than the heavens. Beyond what I could even see before me.

Your love, Oh Lord, is better than life! ( Psalm 63:3) 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Missing Person

The bumper sticker read, "Sometimes all I want to be is a missing person." I couldn't help but chuckle, wondering if the poor soul driving was a mom needing a moment to herself. I could relate, knowing full well my own son had stood outside my locked door banging and yelling and wondering when I'd finally be out.

Of course I began to analyze. (Yes, you know me. I can over-analyze anything, including a bumper sticker.) What's important to note, by God's sovereign design, is the fact that I am studying this very topic and just read this portion of Gideon's story this morning.

"The angel of the Lord came and sat down under the oak in Ophrah that belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, where his son Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress to keep it from the Midianites. When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.” Judges 6:11-12

From my study I've come to understand that Gideon was in the least likely of places. Like the wish on the bumper sticker, he was attempting to be a "missing person." Don't misunderstand - he wasn't slacking on the job. But he was threshing wheat in the wine press. Essentially, he was hiding. 

What I love about this passage is the progression of the presence of the Lord. First he came, then he sat. Unbeknownst to Gideon, he was in the presence of the Lord. He was being watched and observed, even in his hour of fear, even when he was trying to remain hidden. Even when you think he's forsaken you or left your side, even in the midst of your battle when you are hiding from the enemy, you can be assured the Lord has never left you. 

Then the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon. He spoke to him. He affirmed his presence. He even foreshadowed his future of being a mighty warrior. Up to that point he'd been a wheat thresher. Now he's standing in the presence of the Lord being honored for his valiant fighting. It's quite a story of God's presence with us. No matter where we're "hiding." No matter what enemy we're up against. No matter what mundane task we're in the middle of. We're never too far from the reach of God. We're never out of His presence. We're never beyond His ability to look at us and see our potential despite our trepidation and fear. 

There's no such thing as a missing person in God's army. Remember the 99 sheep? That's right. He went after the one. And He'll come after you too. You may not even be aware of it yet. He may not have yet "appeared" in your situation. But rest assured, He's there. Whatever you're facing, whatever battle you must fight, whatever task you must perform. There's never a battle too fierce for Him to fight for you. There's never a task too menial for Him to perform with you. He's with you, mighty warrior. 


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

FILE NAME: HIS

Yesterday I wrote what could be the enemy's notes about me. His tactics and schemes to attack and get me down. I promised you, though, not to stop there. While I wrote with vulnerability about my weaknesses, I must add the disclaimer to today's post. It's also vulnerable in the opposite direction. For fear this could come across prideful, I am almost reserved in writing this post more so than yesterday's. Yet I'm asking for this to be understood and heard from my heart.

To counteract the schemes of the devil, we must know the file our Lord keeps on each of us as well. As I explained, as Scripture tells us, this isn't a record of wrongs. Praise God, through the redemption of Jesus Christ, our confessed sins are cast as far as the east is from the west. They're forgiven, under the blood, washed clean, and we are made new. But in keeping with this idea of the file the enemy has to destroy us, I'd like to offer my thoughts on the file our Heavenly Father uses to encourage us. Here is what I believe His file would read of me.

FILE NAME: Carrie Lynn

SUMMARY: Help her see who she is in Me.

PROFILE: Amid her efforts to serve me, gently reminder her of my deep desire to have her enjoy My Presence. Allow her to receive sincere praise and encouragement to help her know the joy I have in her. Give her opportunities to share her contagious joy. The out-going personality I gave her should be shared and implemented to help others feel comfortable so they may sense My presence. 

Let her realize she doesn't have to fix or solve every problem or situation that I allow to come her way, but help her know to turn these things - and people - over to Me. Bless her with My glory. She prays for it all the time. Let her see and enjoy My works and creation and may they sink into her soul as My expression of love for her. Reveal who I am to her as she reads and studies My Word and give her an understanding of My goodness and grace. 

Help her not to be consumed with all she can't or isn't doing, but rather help her not to become distracted by the things that busy up her life. Give her attentive ears to hear My voice. When she discerns My will, she has the ability to encourage and lead others. Help her not to take My place, but rather help her point others to Me. Allow her the ability to rest in My Presence and to understand that being still is sometimes exactly where I want her.

When she gets discouraged, remind her who she is in Me. At the point she feels unworthy and unuseable, give her opportunities to serve so when she realizes it is not by her own strength, allow her to receive the blessing of My strength through her and be fully used by Me to bless others. Help her know her successes are by My hand and let her seek to gain My affection and not the approval of those around her. Let her feel My pride in her, My creation, and not worry about what anyone else thinks. May she not be so hard on herself that she gets discouraged, but rather that she surrenders her weakness, her fears, her anxiety, her guilt, and any looming thoughts that plague and paralyze so that I may be free to reign in her and work through her. 

SPECIAL NOTES: Her joy and spirit can be contagious when she is truly walking with and living a life surrendered to Me. Keep her balanced so she's constantly replenished by My strength, love, grace and goodness, to the point that these are over-flowing in her life. When she is around other believers, sharing in My presence, she will thrive and come alive.

Whether or not you took my encouragement yesterday to write what the enemy's file might look like about you, I encourage you today to think about what your loving Father's notes would read. These are far more important for you to know and understand. I pray you're encouraged at least to know you're not alone in the struggle we face. He knows your struggle. He knows your heart. He created your inmost being. His notes about you barely broach the subject of His love for you. In fact, I like to think across each of our file's is stamped in red the huge words: REDEEMED. Bought by blood, given the privilege to become His children. Overarching any notes that could be written about any of us, at the very least your file reads "HIS."


Monday, September 9, 2013

FILE NAME: Carrie Lynn

It's Monday. It feels like a Monday. It was dark enough to look like the middle of the night when my alarm went off at 6 a.m. Before the day has really begun the attack is already fierce. Oh how he loves to break in through any foothold he can find.

"Put on the full armor of God that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil." Ephesians 6:11

It can be explained that the "schemes of the devil" are his tactics, his strategies. As our pastor defined yesterday, his tried-and-true proven track record of how to attack each one of us. David Jeremiah talks about the "file" - the literal file folder chock-full of notes the enemy has kept about each of us and what tactics work against us. It got me thinking about my own file. What would the enemy's notes about me look like? What would they reveal about me? If he wanted to truly attack me, to get me absolutely down, what tested-and-proven schemes would he pull out of my file?

FILE NAME: Carrie Lynn 

TACTICAL SUMMARY: Build her up before you knock her down.

VICTIM PROFILE: Prone to self-doubt, worry, anxiety and guilt. Make sure to build her up and allow others to acknowledge her strengths to create a facade of worth before allowing guilt and fear to creep in and tear her down at her core. Creating a false illusion of herself will allow her to fall even harder and further. 

At her weakest, make her feel worthless, beaten up, and never any good. Keep her away from bible study and the encouragement of other believers so she feels isolated and completely alone. To further discourage, give her the false illusion she's in control. Better yet, give her the opportunity to involve herself. Get her completely entangled with directing every detail until she's so wrapped up in a mess she's created that she has absolutely no way out. 

Make her BUSY - completely over-committed - so she feels her service is good and useful but make it distract her mind and time from being alone with the God she loves. Make her so useful that she expends every amount of energy. Make her believe she's giving, serving and blessing others and she'll completely forget to replenish her own soul until she's absolutely spent. At this point, consumer her with worry, fear, anxiety or frustration. She can be easily pushed to the breaking point and lose her joy in this rock-bottom emptiness.

SPECIAL NOTES: In moments of weariness when she realizes she's out of control and about to surrender for help from the Lord, weigh her down with such overwhelming guilt, every lofty reminder of her failures and flaws, that she will feel completely worthless, even more isolated and alone, and unworthy to even turn to her Savior. 

Yep, that seems to about sum up my file. I'm not going to lie. While this is a truly revealing post, one that could even be used against me, it is also very enlightening. To know what gets me down is the very way I can help stand against the one who seeks to steal and destroy. Arming myself with God's armor and the knowledge of the schemes the enemy employs against me, help put me in the offensive position to stand against him and his attacks.

So I'm writing today to encourage you to write your own file. You don't have to be as vulnerable as me and post it for all to see. But I wonder if you were to ask yourself what proven schemes the enemy uses on you, would it help you better stand? I pray so.

Be encouraged. You're not alone. My file is full of my own failures that the enemy counts as his wins. But there's another file that I think God keeps on each of us. Not a record of wrongs, but a road map of our hearts. That post will come tomorrow.