Earlier this week – okay, that’s a lie – for the past 8 MONTHS I’ve been going through a battle. Leaning heavily on my word-of-the-year (“Trust” – see my first post), I thought this battle was all about me.
How much faith I had.
How strong I could be.
What I could do on my own.
How I could fix _____.
How high I raised my hands in worship.
How tightly I closed my eyes when I prayed.
You get the picture. You’ve been there too.
My dear friend who co-pastors Heights Church in Colorado asked me to join her in a Bible study on warfare. What? Warfare? Isn’t that some deep, spiritual word that conjures up pictures of that awkward verse about wrestling with “principalities, against powers, against rules of the darkness of this world” from Ephesians 6:12?
Yes. Yes it is. And it’s real. It’s heavy. And at times, it’s right in front of you and behind you at the same time. Whispering lies and breathing down your neck. Keeping you up at night, eyes wide open and heart pounding.
This battle is not about me. And admitting that is the first step – humbling myself to realize that I can’t. I can’t fix, I can’t do, I can’t raise my hands high enough to push away this war.
What I can do is be the warrior that God created me to be. Of all the things we tell little girls they are (“God made you beautiful!” “God made you special!” “God made you just the way you are.”) we need to shout from the rooftops: “GOD MADE YOU A WARRIOR!”
And He equipped you to be a warrior! For goodness sake, He give you the best armor and the best sword full of promises of joy, peace, healing, love, and all good things. (Ephesians 6). Stop putting on someone else’s armor. Bless his heart, Saul thought he was doing good when he clothed little David in his over-sized, clunky armor. But David knew God was all he needed – and he proclaimed that (1 Samuel 17)!
What am I proclaiming today? Am I putting on the protective belt given to me by the advice of others? Am I arming myself with negative words of doubt? Or am I using the Word given to me by my Father? Am I trusting in Him and not in my own power?
What about you?
I can’t remember the last time I went hiking. It’s just not my thing. I mean, I’m a walk the straight & narrow kind of gal. I kid, but seriously – I don’t hike. I don’t run for pleasure. I don’t mountain climb. Huffing and puffing, a couple of flights of stairs may do me in for the day. (I hate to admit that, so strike it from this blog if it totally destroys what you think of me).
So when a figurative mountain is in my way in life, why do I climb it? Me, of all people? Why do I research hiking boots and check the weather forecast for the best time to start my ascent? Why do I start the rocky climb with no peak in sight and only trip and fall back down again?
JESUS said “You can say to this mountain, ‘May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and it will happen. But you must really believe it will happen and have no doubt in your heart. I tell you, you can pray for anything, and if you believe that you’ve received it, it will be yours.” Mark 11:23-24
Jesus mic drop.
NOTE: This was originally posted March of 2012 by Allyson McElroy
Verse: Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him. 1 Kings 19:18, KJV
(Elijah has just told God that he knows of no one left in Israel who still worships Him. This is God’s response.)
Do you remember the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, the three friends in Daniel 3 who refused to bow down to any so-called gods? They were 100% devoted to God (who, at the time, hadn’t died for their sins or blessed them beyond measure or walked in the fire with them).
Picture it: King Nebuchadnezzar had just made an image of gold and commanded everyone to bow to worship it once the instruments were played. People everywhere are gathered around, crowding the public areas. Right in the middle are Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. Let’s watch…
Cymbals crash, flutes play, trumpets blast. The Nebuchadnezzar faithful bow in obedient worship. Not the three friends. They unabashedly, proudly stand tall. Whispering arises. Townspeople begin to point. Surely the three misunderstood. The King himself gathers Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego unto him. “Don’t you know? When the music starts you must bow down! If you don’t, I’ll throw you in a pit of fire!” I’ll save the end of the story for another time, but just know that the boys didn’t bow and God saved them.
Let’s pause here and bring this to modern day:
Jill Christian (could be you, could be me) is standing in this group. The pressure is mounting to bow and the trumpets will sound any moment. Jill thinks…
Wait! There they are! I hear them!
I believe in God. I am a Christian! I can’t bow!
But, the fire is hot.
Oh, wait. Is my shoe untied?
I’d better bow down, er, I mean bend over and tie that…
The music stops. Everyone stands back, waiting for the next blast of the horns, which happens…right…now:
No! Not again! Everyone is bowing except me!
The fire – I’ll be thrown in!
Wait a second… did I double knot that?
I’d better retie that shoe to make certain.
Let me bow down, er, I mean bend over and tie that…
Wow. This hits home for me. How many times have I tried to blend in just so I wouldn’t stand out? Is that what God’s called me to do? Proverbs tells us many times that our ways may seem pure to us, to others – but God knows our heart.
Lord, let me never be a sneaker-tying Christian. Forgive me for trying to blend in. You’ve called me to be a peculiar person. You’ve set me apart, sanctified me as I prayed you would. Please do so again. Let me stand, boldly, for you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Picture this: It’s the day your new boss is coming to the office. You’ve got the perfect dress picked out to impress and know exactly which necklace to wear. You go to pick out the necklace and it’s tangled. It’s not just tangled, it’s mangled with cheap, St. Patrick’s Day beads, the gold chain you haven’t worn since the 90s, and a lanyard from your last conference. Excitement quickly turns to frustration and you wonder if you should just give up.
That’s how I felt about my life around 6 months ago. I was so excited with where my life could be headed, but all the ideas in my head tossed around into a tangled necklace mess to the point that I couldn’t pick one from the other.
Can I tell you what I made myself do (yes – forced is a better word)? I picked 3 surrounding my 1.
Let me explain.
What would you (yep, I’m turning this from me to you) do if you knew you wouldn’t fail? I don’t mean buy a lotto ticket or land on the moon. I mean what would your in-five-years life look like if you did exactly what you believe in your heart that God wants you to do? That He’s birthed inside of you?
Now say it out loud. Now write it down. That’s your 1. That’s the 1 thing that the 3 below need to point back to & support, applaud, and accomplish. For this example, we’re going to say “I’d be an executive with XYZ company, with a supportive and happy team.”
There are financial goals, family goals, spiritual goals, career goals, vacation goals, sports goals, etc etc etc goals. Now take a deep breath. Pick 3 of those and write them down, leaving plenty of space between each one.
Did you write them down? Do it. Go on.
Now erase them because you did it wrong. (bwah ha ha ha!)
Don’t just say “I want to lose weight.” That’s generic and accomplishes nothing. You need to add a few words to that: SPECIFIC, BY, STARTING, SO THAT.
“My SPECIFIC goal is to lose 20 pounds BY running 1 mile a day STARTING tomorrow morning at 8:00 am SO THAT I can fit into the suit I want to wear to my job interview to eventually become an executive.”
There you go. Now do that for other areas of your life – family, finances, spiritual life, etc. Not all of them, tho. Just pick a total of 3.
Once I did this I felt a huge burden lifted. It was as though speaking my future out loud and planning the next few months of my life untangled all the ideas in my head and resulted in freedom.
The Unexpected Word of the Year
Several years ago I was challenged to pick a word of the year. You’d think this would be difficult for my type-A, perfectionist brain to do in a short time, but each year the word has come to me so quickly as if dropped in my mind by God himself.
The most recent word was Be. Be present for my family. Be in the moment. Be ready to listen. Be ready to love. Be.
For 2018 a word came to me so strongly and suddenly that, I’m not gonna lie, it invoked fear. Yet the word itself doesn’t allow fear. Trust.
While I didn’t need the word confirmed to me at all, God chose to do so. We were driving through downtown Ada on our way to Braum’s for ice cream when Cole started the whole new year’s resolution conversation.
“Are most new years resolutions about losing weight or getting healthy? I think mine will be to eat healthier,” he said as his nose moved in closer to breathe cloudy puffs against the cold car window.
I challenged him to think of a religious resolution too. Again, as though God spoke straight to him for me, he said, “Trust God. I’m going to trust God more.”
So here I am. The end of 2017 and the beginning of 2018. I already trust God, but I’m ready to lean in closer and step out farther into the waters of His word and His plan.