Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Put on the FULL Armor

As dusk began to settle on the land, I sat on a rock exhausted from battle. The adrenaline had long since waned before I began to assess my injuries. Scanning my body, I looked down to see that a strap of my sandal wasn't tied and had been flailing about for who knows how long. My feet had been fitted with the readiness that comes from the Gospel of Peace, yet just one strap hadn't been secure. So this is why I have been stumbling, I thought. I reached down to secure it but my fingers were so swollen that two fellow members of the priesthood came to help me.
While they worked, I rolled back up to sitting and realized that, in my stumbling, my belt of Truth had come loose. Upon closer inspection, I found the buckle had slipped the notch. How did that happen? One of the priests examined it closely. Then with the tenderest of voices he said, "Because your Belt of Truth was missing just one Truth, the notch stretched out." Embarrassed, I fiddled with the belt determined to fix the flaw when I realized that my Breastplate of Righteousness was missing! Horrified I began searching for wounds. Had I ever had it on? No! I never put it on! It was offered, but I never took it! I went into battle without the full armor of God?! In my searching I found bloody wounds all over my belly and chest. Some were quite deep however none were mortal wounds, thank God! As the priests attended to my lacerations, my attention turned to anther of my defenses, my Shield of Faith. The brilliant colors and lively shapes that embossed the shield were scorched with deep gouges from protecting my heart. I reached to take it off my left arm as shooting pain and aches filled my other arm. My right side was weak and weary from wielding the Sword of the Spirit. My Sword and Shield were both in tact, yet quite worn from doing both their job, and the job of the Breastplate. Slowly and carefully for fear of pain darting through my arms, I removed my Helmet of Salvation to inspect it. It was almost perfectly in tact! The Enemy must have seen how securely my helmet was placed. The cunning adversary he is, he saw exactly where my weakness was and aimed straight for it. My most vulnerable of areas was almost completely exposed, so there was no sense in him attacking my salvation. Overtaken with my foolishness, my head and shoulders sunk. I sat distraught in the Valley of Achor with other wounded and thirsty saints. I knew they must be moaning as much as I yet all I heard was silence. They were so near me but so far from me at the same time. After what seemed like eternity, I heard a melody waft through the desolate place. I turned my head ever so slightly to see that the musicians had come through with the softest of ballads. Even though I was utterly ready to drop, the music swept me up as my heart seemed to just know the harmony. The instruments together made a haunting sound that was solemn yet hopeful, and underneath came a voice barely audible, "He has redeemed us from the curse of the Law". I listened intently to catch those beautiful words and, maybe for the first time, this Truth resounded in my wounded heart and soul. The Truth that, Jesus has redeemed us from the curse of the Law by becoming a curse for us began filling up my trauma. The by nature pure blood of Christ had indeed cleansed me. In Christ, God declares me pure, spotless, blameless, and righteous. One whose name was Guilty, now called Not Guilty. I had heard this before but the discouragement from by my flesh seemed to drown it out. Without this, I did not know the fullness of the Gospel of Peace. I did not know the whole Truth. I did not believe I had been made Righteous. Immediately, I threw myself to the ground in worship. As I cried and sang songs only the Holy Spirit could reiterate, the Lord, my Abba Father, God of all Comfort laid His gentle hands over me. He took up my chin and looked me in the face whispering how He would begin the work of securing my sandals and tightening the loose notch in my belt. But first thing was first, He handed me once again my Breastplate of Righteousness reinforced specifically for me. With trembling hands I reached out for it saying, "Lord, I believe, help my unbelief".

Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,
(Ephesians 6:11-17)

1 John 1:7,9
1 John 3:7
Hosea 2:19-20, 23
Ezekiel 36:25-27, 33-35
Romans 4:22
Galatians 3:13
Revelation 19:8
Mark 9:24

Friday, February 8, 2013

Highchair Hording

A couple years ago I read Russel D. Moore's book, Adopted for Life (and by read I mean listened to the audio book). I remember sobbing on the floor listening to the story of his and his wife's visits to the dank orphanage in Russia. I continued sobbing as he told how the boys reached back for that horrific orphanage when they were put in the car to leave for a better life. Later, back in the States, the boys would hide food in their highchairs just in case that was the last meal they would get for a while.

When I became a Christian, I didn't so much reach back for my old life. I buckled my seat belt with uncharacteristic confidence and waved farewell to my bondage. Things didn't get easier for me, actually life got harder but there was this insatiable joy and hope that I had never felt before, carrying me... covering me. This past year, things have calmed down considerably. Not only that, but circumstances have gotten really good! I have been so blessed. It is so good, in fact, that it feels too good. I have been in the Light for almost 8 years now but this seems too much. I have come to learn the secret of being content and thriving in suffering - when hungry or in want. I can suffer well through Him who gives me strength. However, as I embark on the journey of this season of singing, I have found myself reaching back for my suffering not knowing how to/if I can be close to God without it. I also find myself hording and controlling blessings, afraid that the abounding riches of God's grace are about to run out for me. My head and heart are in shock. Such a mixed bag of junk, Truth, sin, fear and other stuff. All these good things and relationships are so good and I can't help but dwell on how life in eternity will be even better. In eternity they Enemy will no longer be prevalent, I will see Christ face to face, and there will be no sinful doubting flesh to contend with. I guess somewhere in my heart I can grasp the full abounding richness of His grace in heaven but I am struggling to believe the richness of His grace is abounding here on earth, in this flesh. I suppose God has much, much more to teach me about Unfailing Love.