Thursday, December 30, 2010

On The Battlefield Of Life

Almost every day is a fight for something on this battlefield called life. Some days we get by without too many struggles. Those days are like cool drinks of water on a hot, balmy day. We try to enjoy them when they come along. What a blessing to sail through a day and be able to tuck ourselves into bed that night with a smile, sigh of contentment and a “thank you Father”. However, sometimes we mindlessly go through them without stopping to “smell the roses”. How selfish of us to carelessly take little to no notice of those easier days. What a blessing from the Father when the pavement seems to rise up to meet our feet. When we hit every green light. When we catch a mint-condition pair of designer shoes on the 75% off clearance rack. (Taking into consideration that we really need them and have the extra money to purchase them.) When our kids come home with 100% on their spelling test and no homework for that night. When our toddler finally decides it’s time to start using the potty. When the checkout line at Wal-Mart is short. When we receive a check in the mail because we overpaid a bill or when we find a considerable mistake in your checkbook that turns out to be in our favor. When our husband calls us just to say “I love you”. When the phone doesn’t ring off the hook and our email inbox isn’t filled to the brim with messages. When our sister-prickle seems to have left her quills at home that day. When that quick and easy recipe you got off of the Internet turns out to be a hit with your family. When you can remember your memory verse from last week and your quiet time with the Lord was amazing. When the barista at our favorite coffee shop makes our drink with absolute perfection. When it’s cold and rainy after work and you have a full tank of gas in your car that allows you to drive home without stopping at the gas station. Here’s the best one…you were able to fix your hair without any fuss and it looks great! Oh, and those designer shoes you bought on clearance go beautifully with the outfit you’re wearing that day.

Some of those are rather shallow things but my point is that we miss those neat, little things that help make our day less of a battle. I’ve found many of those things to be blessings in my life and I try really hard to take notice of them when they happen. It is so important for us to enjoy and draw from those breaks in the battle. The battles we face on a daily basis can sometimes be daunting. The battlefield is an ugly place. When I think of a battlefield the mental image I get is not one of joy or pleasure. To me, it’s a dirty place. It’s grimy. It stinks. It’s a place where you’re surrounded by death and/or injury. It’s a place of weariness. It can often times be a place of confusion and overwhelming attacks from the enemy. Sometimes it’s a place of utter defeat.

James 1 talks about “count it all joy…the trying of your faith will bring you patience, endurance and strength”. Thanks James, that’s exactly what this girl wanted to hear. Count it all joy? Really? When you look at the gut-wrenching, dirty, strength-zapping battles we often face, “joy” isn’t the first thing that pops into my mind. It’s more like “Ugh”. Many times I have found myself in a place of defeat…far, far from that place where I can count it all joy. There have been days where you could have found me in the fetal position under my desk at work. Maybe I wasn’t exactly salt and light in the Wal-Mart checkout line. Maybe I missed a chance to help my fellow soldier because I was too wrapped up in my own fight. Worse yet, at times I just gave up right there in the middle of the battle. I just sat right down and waved my little white flag and let the enemy run smack over me. After all, I didn’t go looking for a fight, the battle came and found me. It wasn’t fair. How/why did it happen? (Talk about being a whiney baby…no wonder I lost so many battles!) Folks, I missed the opportunity to “count it all joy” far too many times. It was hard for me to see that the trials I was tackling were actually strengthening me. The enemy was able to way-lay me because I went into the battle unprepared.

This battlefield of life is no place to be if we’re weary, empty, unprepared and naked. Our enemy roams around like a lion, ready to devour us. He fights dirty. He hits us in our weak spots. He uses the ones we love in his battle against us. He loves using the element of surprise. He uses guerrilla warfare. There is no place in your life he won’t attempt to attack. There’s no sacred time either…he loves attacking at the most inappropriate times. His goal is not to strengthen our patience and endurance. His goal is to kill us. We help him in meeting his goal when we attempt to go up against him unprepared.

A warrior is always prepared. They train daily. They are always on the lookout for the enemy. They know how to respond at a moment’s notice. They get up every morning and put on their battle gear. They fill themselves up on life-giving food. We tell our kids that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. We convince them that going about their day on an empty stomach makes them weak and ineffective. What makes us think that same principle isn’t true for our spirits? Being a warrior is not just a physical attribute. It is a mindset. It takes a huge heart. It takes endurance, power and determination. It takes knowing who you are in Christ so that you can stare the enemy in the eyes and say to him, “This day I will fight!”

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Only Through the Power of the Holy Spirit

I'm the mother of a 6-year-old boy.  A boy that I waited almost 10 years, after the birth of my lovely daughter, to have.  I had no idea what I was missing until I held that big ole' boy for the first time.  Up until that first encounter I was afraid that I would not love him as much as I loved my Tori.  The second I saw his face, I was head-over-heels in love.  Since that time Mr. Reid has brought so much love, joy and adventure into our home.  He is full of witty insight, enthusiasm, hugs and energy.  He literally transformed the atmosphere of our home.  And the relationship I have with him is so very different from the special relationship I have with Tori...and I deeply cherish them both.

It's because I am the mother of a boy that I can't help but think of Mary during this time of year.  Just the thought of putting myself in her shoes makes me begin to hyperventilate.  We all know that it is really through the power of the Holy Spirit that we get this whole parenting thing right...but think about her.  Here she is in a culture that takes purity before marriage EXTREMELY serious (the way it should be, by the way).  She's young, innocent and has a promising future with a man named Joseph.  In her mind, I bet she was pleased because "this is the way it's supposed to be"...every girls dream.  Then everything changed.  It was the power of the Holy Spirit that caused life to form within her.  It was the power of the Holy Spirit that led Joseph to believe that she was still the pure and innocent woman he had asked to marry him.  And it was the power of the Holy Spirit that continued to confirm the holiness of this little one after his birth.

It would have to be the power of the Holy Spirit that sustained her throughout His life.  As she held Him and looked upon His face for the first time, the Holy Spirit was there with her.  Not only did she have the regular "new mom" emotions coursing through her veins, she also had the knowledge of the fact that she was looking upon the face of a holy child.  Little did she know what that would later mean.  Every parent has hopes and dreams for their children, but did she dare dream for Him?  She must have wanted to.  She couldn't help but get lost in His sweet eyes and in His smile.  Yes, she was a woman...therefore she was naturally inclined to dream and love and bond deeply with her child.  I can imagine that at the same time, the Holy Spirit gently whispered into her spirit thoughts of guidance and hope for this little one.  Yes, He was certainly special but His greatness was incomprehensible.

Mary did you know that your baby boy would one day walk on water?  Mary could you have ever dreamed so large that you realized He would one day rule the nations?  Mary did you know that the child that you just delivered would soon deliver you?  No...Mary...bless your didn't know...but the power of the Holy Spirit kept that check in your spirit that something amazing would result from the birth of this child.  And it would be the power of the Holy Spirit that would carry you through the toughest time of your life.  It was the power of the Holy Spirit that helped you find Him when that little sucker got lost in the temple.  It was also His power that helped you not feel so foolish when you realized that it was you that was lost, not Him.  It was the Holy Spirit that helped guide your words when your other sons made fun of Him for believing He was God.  How many times did you pop them in the back of their heads for mocking Him? How often did you go in to say His bedtime prayers with Him and find yourself amazed, filled-up and blessed when He prayed?  And on the darkest day of your life, tt would only be through the Holy Spirit's power that you could possibly watch your son being crucified.  You were a woman, not a god.  No woman could bear that type of burden and sorrow without His intervention.  That was not what you had dreamed!  That was not the way it was supposed to be!  The images of Him helping Joseph in the carpenter shop were burned in your mind.  How bittersweet they must have become on that dark day.  How many times did you call out "WHY" to God?  How many times did you envision yourself attacking the Roman soldiers?  Did you want to pluck out the eyes of the priests?  How did you keep from running out to take His place?  Oh to hold Him just once more.  To wisk Him away to a hiding place and tend to His wounds.  How you must have wanted to protect Him.  The anguish must have been overwhelming.  Just as feelings of helplessness overtook your thoughts, did the Holy Spirit begin His perfect ministry within you?  I have no doubts that He did because that's just how wonderful and loving He is.  As the blood of your Son was washing away the sins of the world...your sins, Mary...the power of the Holy Spirit was with you.  And when your precious son arose from the grave 3 days was only through the power of the Holy Spirit that confirmed what you were seeing and hearing.  It was then that He whispered to you His confirming word, "Yes Mary, this is the way it was supposed to be."