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All posts for the month November, 2012

Opposition to Rebuilding

Published November 28, 2012 by Dawn

God has used many scriptures lately to reveal to me that I am in a season of rebuilding. The walls that have been torn down, the destruction that the enemy has caused in my heart and mind, its all in a rebuilding process. I have been called to inhabit a promised land and I am in the season of rebuilding. The other day, I was drawn once again to the account of Nehemiah, which I have read about ten times over the last two years. Nehemiah went back to Jerusalem to rebuild the walls of the city after the destructive war with the Babylonians. The walls had not only been demolished, they had been burned. As scripture predicted, there was no stone upon another. It was a complete loss to the people, and left the city defenseless. The Israelites would never had been able to securely occupy their territory because there was no protection around the city.

As I read again the book of Nehemiah, the tactics that the enemy used to thwart God’s plans for rebuilding really spoke to me. I felt compelled to write them down. Here’s the list:

Opposition to rebuilding the wall – Enemy tactics:

Mocked the Jews (4:2-3)

Conspired to attack the Jews and cause confusion (4:8)

Threatened their lives (4:11)

Starved them (5:1-5)

Forced their children into slavery (5:5)

Bondage and oppression (5:18)

Lied (6:5-7)

Distractions

Mockery, confusion, bondage and oppression, lies, distractions. Yeah, I can definitely see how Satan has worked against me in this time. Of course, some things seem necessary in retrospect, else how could I have healed in the broken areas of my life? But now, I have something, a list, to hold my day up to in consideration: is this an attack that I am going through? When I’m existing on the edge of tears praying someone doesn’t push me off the ledge, I can now ask, is this a lie? Is it bondage? When I question the promises I have heard spoken into my heart, I can clearly ascertain the source of confusion. When I, bound by the mockery of my enemy, entertain the idea that I am a complete fool for believing in impossible things, I can look at this list and clearly see what’s happening. Clearly, my enemy does not want me to finish rebuilding. Why? Because with walls that are intact, I will no longer live in insecurity. I will be free to truly live, not looking over my shoulder or living in the past. No longer afraid of the enemy, who will not be able to penetrate my walls.

“You are the Light of the World…”

Published November 24, 2012 by Dawn

I put up the Christmas tree last night and I must admit, I’m still adoring it today. It’s the homemade kind: fake tree adorned with ornaments we’ve collected over the years. It may be less attractive to someone who’s used to manufactured beauty. This tree was decorated by my daughter and I, not an interior designer. But to us, it’s beautiful.

As I sit here enjoying the comfort of hot tea, watching the lights twinkle and dance around the tree, I am reminded of Jesus’ words, “You are the light of the world… (Matt. 5:14).” Considering this ‘word’ in the light of my Christmas tree, a whole  new set of adjectives I’ve never associated with lights come to mind. I’ve always considered the words “bright”  and “illuminating,” along with “warm” and “inviting.” But how about “mesmerizing” or “dazzling”? Or how about “captivating”? And as all my cares and concerns fade while I lose myself to the rhythmic chase of green, blue, red and white, I can add “tranquil” to my list.

The only problem with this list is that, as I lengthen it, I become more uncertain of my ability to be the light of the world. After all, how can I ever become all of these things? What does it mean to be bright and illuminating? Warm and inviting? Mesmerizing and dazzling? Captivating? Tranquil? I guess to understand my roll as “the light of the world” I have to first understand the nature of light.

I’ve been studying these lights for well over an hour now, which I’m not afraid to admit because it’s Saturday and there’s nothing on my schedule until this evening. It isn’t hard to understand the first two attributes: bright and illuminating. It is the brightness of the light that enhances everything around it. I very much doubt that the ornaments on my tree would appeal as much to me if it were not for the brilliance of the lights around them. Of course, light also illuminates things and exposes the hidden things of darkness. We have a tradition of hiding a small ornament on the tree every year, which is almost impossible to find if I do my job right. But I am very careful not to hide it by the lights because exposure is the nature of light. Not that the lights must react to what’s hidden. By simply being what it was created to be and doing what it was created to do, light exposes things.

In a similar way, it is not hard to understand the next two attributes: warm and inviting. Ever sat beside a fireplace? In my opinion, a fireplace is one of man’s best creations. There is nothing more warm and inviting than a fireplace. When the world becomes cold and the winds are harsh, a fireplace invites the weary to settle down and enjoy the warmth of it’s fire. Likewise we, as Christians, should by our very nature, be a respite for the weary. Those who have been too long in the cold, harsh world should be compelled by our glow and warmth to come near to Christ and settle themselves in His comforting arms.

The next two attributes are not so easy to understand in the application of this ‘word’: mesmerizing and dazzling. If you have ever watched the sunlight shimmer off the surface of a lake, you know how light can be both mesmerizing and dazzling. The sunlight seems to dip and sway, dancing above the surface, bending to kiss the water and undulating to the rhythm of the waves. To watch is to be hypnotized by nature. But how do we, as Christians, become equally mesmerizing?  By mirroring Christ to such a degree that people who witness our walk cannot help but watch our lives and our relationships. Our dance with Him captures their attention like light striking the surface of  water, and they are compelled to watch because of the beauty reflected in our walk with Christ.

Once people notice our light, once they appreciate the beauty of Christ through us, they cannot help but be captivated by Him because to be captivating is the nature of light. Our sincere desire for Him and our earnest pursuit of Him becomes something people cannot resist. They will follow. They will yearn for Him because they can see through us that in Christ, there is tranquility. The worries of this world fade away in the light of who He is. In this fallen world, that is truly something to be desired.

 

Loving Anyway

Published November 22, 2012 by Dawn

I hate the memory of it: me, tucked into the corner of the room hugging my knees, pouring out the agony in my heart in rivulets of tears. Feeling very much hopeless and rejected. What is wrong with me? What is so wrong with me? I’ve felt rejected by literally everyone in my life at some point, but never by Him. Never by God. Until that moment.

Up until then, God had been my refuge. He was always there, always affirming me. Always giving my heart what it failed to find anywhere else: a quenching love. But that day, He stood afar off and silently watched me struggle with the thoughts going through my head. It seems so cruel to accuse Him of that, but what else can I say? He didn’t save me from those thoughts as they cut my heart. I wrestled with them. I agonized over them. I almost died inside.

It seemed like God must hate me because everything that I had done obviously wasn’t good enough to get his attention. What is so wrong with me that God cannot accept me? Why does He love everyone else and hate me? How come even God rejects me?

Even as I recognized that this was the enemy, I warred with my mind. I warred with the enemy speaking into my mind thoughts that bound my heart to a very unpleasant reality. Well, what I perceived as reality. Where do you go if God hates you? What do you do with your life when the maker of the universe looks at you and says, “You aren’t good enough. You don’t measure up. You never get it right. I’m done trying with you.”

I guess you need to understand my position at this point. Life was hard. Harder than I felt like I could handle most of the time and I had put my heart and my future in God’s hands and trusted Him to protect me and guide me. I had prayed in faith and believed for things that seemed foolish. Many I had seen fulfilled, but it seemed like the needs that consumed me the most escaped the attention of my Husband. A single mother of two growing children in a job that hardly paid my bills, living in a house that was falling apart around me. Sleeping in the living room for the winter because my bedroom wasn’t heated. Lonely most of the time, busy all of the time. I prayed daily for the fulfillment of my needs and waited in eager expectation. I even tried to enjoy life in the process. Most days, I genuinely did. But I had become weary. I was so tired of fighting life. And God kept saying “Wait.” when I needed Him to intervene. I needed Him. He had told me He would be my Husband but it felt like He had abandoned my heart with some pretty desperate needs.

 

I struggled with so many thoughts that day. My heart was grieved because I felt abandoned by God.  I felt rejected. I felt so alone. So alone. I wondered to myself: “Where do I go now? What direction does a life take when God is completely turned away from a person? In the depths of my heart, I remembered all the sweet things He had said to me but they were in complete contrast to what I was feeling. It was at that moment, I had to decide what choice I would make. Would I in turn reject God like I tend to do to everyone else who rejects me? Or would I choose to love Him and live for Him anyway? Could I say, like Job, “though He slay me, yet will I serve Him?” I analyzed my life and realized that there is no other direction for me but to love Him anyway. Hugging my comfortless knees to my chest, I decided to love God whether He loved me or not. To pursue Him and persist in getting his attention regardless of how I felt He felt about me.

Thankfully, this gloom and despair passed by and I could clearly see again that God loves me and His promises are fulfilled in His time and His way. This was a dark moment for me, and I know that I am not the only person receiving those lies from Satan. I just pray that all others out there come to realize how sweet it is to trust and love God, and to be loved deeply by Him in return.

Darkest Before the Dawn

Published November 16, 2012 by Dawn

I’ve heard it said that it’s always darkest right before the dawn. I’ve even witnessed the truth of it: waking up at three in the morning is one of my favorite things to do. At the same time that the birds awake to usher in the morning, light seems to altogether disappear and the earth is steeped in darkness. It’s dark, and beautiful, and frightening, and exciting all at the same time. You can watch in this darkness and eventually witness the sun beginning to peek over the horizon. If you watch long enough, you will see the glory of the dawn. Beautiful colors  emerge from what was once blackness and day breaks forth before your eyes. Dawn is definitely a wonder to behold.

Of course, this adage is often used to describe the increase of testing and trials in the life of a believer right before a blessing falls on them. And while the dawning of a new day in the physical sense takes place in less than three hours, sometimes it seems that the spiritual dawning can take an eternity. Which makes sense, because while we know time’s passing by the tick-tock of a clock, God’s planning for our lives takes place from an eternal perspective. And most of us have a hard time waiting out the seemingly endless darkness.

What does it mean to say that it’s always darkest right before the dawn? I can only draw from my own experience to say that this is a time when all the forces of Hell are bent on making you miss the dawn. Trials become more than you can bear. You feel the pressure so intensely that you think buckling beneath it would be better than standing up under it. And while all the hosts of Heaven are singing to usher in the dawn, you can’t appreciate it because the darkness is so severe. Your vision seems gone. You can’t move because you aren’t sure what you’re walking into. You don’t know which way to go because the path is out of sight.

My heart aches to think that this is the moment we often give up. We’re terrified to move, too tired to go on. But can’t you just wait?! There is something on the horizon that will illuminate your path once more! Beauty will emerge from the darkness! You will experience the glory of the birthing of a new day! It will be a wonder to behold! Can’t you just hold on another moment? Because while it may seem like an eternity, God in His mercy knows we cannot fathom eternity, and so He bends His will to encompass our limited understanding of time and causes the dawn to overwhelm the darkness. As surely as every twenty-four hours, light beats back the darkness, you can be assured that there is something on the horizon when life cannot possibly get any worse. Hold on to hope. There is a dawn that breaks the power of darkness and IT IS COMING!

Clipped Wings

Published November 16, 2012 by Dawn

 

 

“One can never consent to creep when one feels the impulse to soar.”

-Hellen Keller

Sometimes, I feel like a flightless bird. Or better yet, a bird with clipped wings. How sad the bird that knows that it has been created for heights it has never seen. A bird that is grounded, living with a longing so deep it hurts. I often feel just like that bird.

I have entertained insanely bold desires and dreams, dreams that I have become so passionate about that I cannot imagine doing anything else in my life besides fulfilling them to God’s glory. Yet, many days, I feel like my wings have been clipped so that I will never make it off the ground. I often feel like I will never achieve the dreams I have been dreaming since I was a youth. I feel like these things are so much bigger than I will ever be. I feel like I cannot in reality become the woman I feel in my heart I am destined to be.

The truth is, I cannot consent to creep, because I feel the impulse to soar. Creeping is not within me. There is a warrior in me. A woman with the heart of a Godly revolution. I want to fight! I want to advance the Kingdom of God and do major damage to the satanic realm. Why, then, am I feeling so bound up? Why am I not able to live in this passion and to rock the world for Christ like I feel is my destiny to do?

I have asked this question of God, and this is what I feel like He has said to me:

Sometimes, it is necessary to clip  a bird’s wings. Sometimes, the bird needs to heal. Sometimes, the bird needs to grow more before it attempts flight. Sometimes, the bird needs nourishment. Sometimes, the bird needs training. Sometimes, the bird has to learn to be dependent.

This, again, is a moment of submission. I look up into the sky and know I belong there, soaring above where I am right now. But for whatever reason, my wings have been clipped. Maybe for all these reasons. I guess I simply have to say, “Not my will, but thine,” and allow God to heal, restore, grow, nourish, and train me. Surely, by the time He is done, my feathers will have grown back because, Thank God, clipped wings are a temporary thing.

A Prophet’s … Reward?

Published November 14, 2012 by Dawn

I started to think about those who have accomplished great things for God, or who were used mightily for him. Those of The Bible. Every one of them, without exception, endured hardships. Most of them lived a life of hardship and did not get to enjoy peace and prosperity in this life. I felt promised that I would get to enjoy peace and prosperity. But now I’m not so sure it will be here on earth. I thought about Moses, who spent his time of service to God dealing with ungrateful children in the wilderness. It was a third of his life! How miserable! He didn’t have peace here on earth, in the physical sense. What about Noah? He spent 120 years being scoffed at as he built an ark in the desert for a rain that didn’t seem possible. Even after that, he spent he next one hundred and something days inside with stinky animals, laboring to feed them and care for them and his family every day. I can’t imagine being in that ark that long. I got snowed in with two kids for a week and was ready to go berserk! Then there were the prophets. Elijah lived in constant fear for his life because Jezebel was bent on killing him. And who wouldn’t have wanted to? He called down a drought from heaven for three and half years!!! He was such the killjoy, from the human perspective, and plenty of people wanted to get rid of him. What a friendless feeling he must have lived with. All the while putting all of his trust in an invisible God who required so much of him. But there was that time … he was in the desert during the drought and God sent ravens to feed him and water to soothe his parched and aching throat. There was evidence of God, even though he was invisible. How easily we forget about those things when the times get tough. Elijah fled when Jezebel threatened his life until God himself had to remind him of these things.

Then there was Jeremiah. That’s actually where God led me to in the word this morning. I was really bummed because I felt like I was being treated unjustly by God. I am a complainer, okay?! Turns out, I’m not the only one. Jeremiah also had a complaint, and recorded it in the word:

“Oh Lord, you deceived me and I was deceived; you overpowered me and prevailed. I am ridiculed all day long, everyone mocks me. Whenever I speak, I cry out claiming violence and destruction. So the word of the Lord has brought me insult and reproach all day long. But if I say “I will not mention him or speak anymore of his name,” his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed I cannot. I hear many whispering, “Terror on every side. Report him! Let’s report him!” All my friends are waiting for me to slip, saying, “Perhaps he will be deceived; then we will prevail over him and take our revenge on him.”

I hear ya, Jeremiah. I’m so glad I’m not the only one who has felt this way. Therefore, it is within the realm of human nature. Doubt is universal and I am not immune from it. Just like Jeremiah, though, I must hold on to what I know about the goodness and mercy of God. His providential hand, even when I cannot see or touch it. I’ve seen it’s fruits. Here’s what Jeremiah said about God, after his complaint was voiced:

“But the Lord is with me like a mighty warrior; so my persecutors will stumble and not prevail. They will fail and be thoroughly disgraced; their dishonor will never be forgotten. Oh Lord Almighty, you who examine the righteous and probe the heart and mind, let me see your vengeance upon them, for to you I have committed my cause.  Sing to the Lord! Give praise to the Lord! He rescues the life of the needy from the hands of the wicked.

But like myself, Jeremiah kept grumbling even after his beautiful love letter to the glory of God. You can read the rest in Jeremiah 20.

I noticed how abruptly his tune changed. Job did the same thing. He gave glory to God even though he was being sifted. He lost his children, his wealth, his health. He was unable to provide for his family, he was utterly miserable and surrounded  by naysayers, and yet he was able to see the goodness of God despite his circumstances. I want to be able to do that. I tend to blame God. When things are going great, I give him my thanks and adoration, but when things take a turn, I give him dirty looks and shake my head at him. I’m sorry, God, for treating you so. Paul reminds me in scripture that our light and momentary troubles here on earth are working for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all (2 Cor. 4:17). Thus sayeth the Lord. Help me to stand in it, and on this, Father, as you do your work within me. Thank you for it all. I love you more than comfort, more than life itself.

Undeserving

Published November 13, 2012 by Dawn

In the book of Zechariah, the prophet has a vision of Jeshua, the High Priest, standing before the throne of God in very dirty, ragged clothing. The devil was standing next to him before the Lord, accusing Jeshua of many things. The Lord stood up and said to Satan, “I reject your accusations, Lucifer.” And the angel of the Lord standing next to Jeshua gave him clean clothing and explained that the fresh clothing represented his cleansing before the Lord. Zechariah then asked for the angel to also replace Jeshua’s headdress with a clean one. This is symbolic of Jeshua being reinstated to his original position as High Priest after being cleansed by Christ’s forgiveness.

It was not that Jeshua was not guilty of the accusations Satan was bringing against him. He was indeed guilty of leading the people into idol worship and desecrating the Temple of God. Jeshua stood before God repentant of his sin, and God chose to remove the sinstains from Jeshua. Jeshua was guilty according to the law, he was guilty according to the rules that governed his position. Still, the Lord rejected the accusations of the devil. Why? Because Jeshua stood before the Lord covered in the dirt of his past with a repentant heart. But even then, he had the responsibility  of receiving the clean clothing. He could have argued that he was undeserving, refused to be cleansed  because Satan’s accusations were weighing him down with guilt. But he didn’t. He heard the Lord vindicate him, he allowed himself to be changed (literally, the others standing around him changed his clothing), and he remained standing where he was.

Can we do that? Can we stand before Christ, completely exposed and vulnerable, and allow ourselves to be changed? Can we stand before him, guilty of all the enemy’s accusations, and accept the complete exoneration from the Lord? Satan stands before our savior every day as the Accuser of the Brethren, and points out our every weakness and sin. And Jesus says to him, “I reject your accusations.” He doesn’t ponder our guilt or the severity of our sinfulness. He acknowledges nothing and rejects it all. He didn’t die to hold us accountable. He died to make us completely clean, free of sin’s stains and, like Jeshua, all we have to do is receive it.