Monday, April 27, 2015

Fiery Arrows


 

In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Ephesians 6:16

 
It seems that there are people who in order to prove their point, to demonstrate the validity of their claims find attacking the faith of their adversary the best way to go. Fair enough if the faith of the adversary can be called into question. We all know plenty of nominal Christians who cherry pick the Gospel for their own ends. I am not one of those and yet this isn’t the first time my loyalty to my Father has been questioned. My faith is not hidden. There is no bowl over my light. (Matthew 5:15) Having ignored this type of attack before I was a little taken back at my own reaction the other day when it happened again. The circumstances surrounding the remarks are entirely too ludicrous to explain. Suffice to say that someone didn’t like a choice I made and turned a molehill into Everest. My dear husband and sweet daughter advised me to consider the source. True enough but that didn’t take the sting out of the situation, which I initially saw as the source of my hurt and anger. It was a day later while praying that I realized that the idiocy of the whole ordeal was not my problem. What bothered me was having my faith belittled. Knowing that my negative reaction would only separate me from my Abba, I took my frustration to Him in prayer.

          I am currently living in a season of challenge and giving. Everywhere I turn, literally everywhere, someone wants something from me. That is fine with me, no, it’s great, as it is my prayer every single morning to serve God by serving others and to be a blessing to at least one person I encounter. My days start with prayer, Scripture, counting my blessings and listening for God’s guidance. Aren’t I just precious? NO! It isn’t any innate goodness that drives me. It is love, pure and simple. It is the love I have for my Abba, for Jesus my Savior and for the Holy Spirit but that exists only because God loved me first. (1 John 4:19) The relationship that I have with Jesus Christ is first and foremost in my life. I am far from perfect, still fully capable of making mistakes, sinning and certainly of offending the people around me but that is not due to a lack of faith or as it was referred to “Christianity.” That is because I am human.

          As I sat and prayed, prayed to let the hurt go, to forgive the offender (by the way far beyond the 70 times 7, Matthew 18:21-22), my precious Abba spoke to my heart. First by showing me that it is because I do hold Him so dear I am vulnerable to that type of attack. Then by giving me an earthly example. I dearly love my husband. We have a really nice marriage, loving, happy, safe and full of respect for each other. If anyone questioned that I would be truly offended and that relationship cannot hold a candle to what I feel for my Savior, my King. Finally God revealed to me that this is a Joseph and his brothers situation (Genesis chapters 37, 39-45) because what my offenders meant for harm has only served to strengthen and affirm my faith. Wow! That makes it easier to forgive, to move on and to continue to love and serve with a faithful heart.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Want vs. Need



The Sovereign Lord is my strength;
he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
he enables me to go on the heights. Habakkuk 3:19

 
Yesterday I had the blessing of spending the day with one of my oldest and dearest friends. Pete and I went to kindergarten through twelfth grade together. We’re a part of that rare generation of Catholic school kids who stayed put for all of our school years. That was many years ago as Pete was quick to remind me yesterday as a rather weighty reunion lurks in the near future.

          It is always a pleasure to spend the day with Pete. We have our annual visit every year at Easter. Occasionally we squeeze in an extra visit but we can always count on Easter weekend.

          To say that Pete lives a different lifestyle than my husband and I is a vast understatement. Our home would fit easily into one of his garages. He jets off here and cruises off there without a second thought. There is plenty of plenty in his life while Otto and I count ourselves blessed when our bills are paid and we’ve been able to bless someone else.

          Every year on our day before Easter, just the three of us visit. We stroll through a tourist area near our home. We talk. We eat and we “shop” by which I mean we mostly browse. Although there was the one year that Pete purchased a piece of art the price of which would have paid my bills for a month. See? We’re not exactly alike monetarily speaking and this morning that turned into a huge blessing for me.  

          As we strolled along and I stopped to admire a dress here, a teapot there, a really cute nightlight, Pete would say to me, “Oh you need that.”  At one point I teasingly pointed out the difference between want and need and he quickly assured me that wanting something often made it a need for him. He said, in so many words, that the act of wanting easily slips into a need category for him. I told him for me that was mostly true only of chocolate. We laughed and went on with our day, me looking, and he pointing out that my “needs.”

          This morning, after praising God for my lovely hot shower (something I do often. Never take that loveliness for granted!) I realized, not for the first time, how blessed I am. My husband and I are in a season of struggle in some areas but not in our marriage. Though the enemy has poked and tried to separate us we’ve actually grown closer. In looking back at the things I “needed” yesterday I could easily see how much I already have. While I was showering my husband, daughter and three granddaughters were sleeping peacefully. Later today I will host a few more family members and a few friends for a celebration of Jesus Christ’s amazing sacrifice for us. My refrigerators are groaning with the weight of the food inside them and I dare you to open my pantry without causing a shift in the piles of bounty there. My home may be humble but it is filled with love. My family may not be whole but we are all healthy. And…. Jesus Christ is risen! In other words, I don’t “need” a single thing. Praise God!