My summer vacation has been a blur. First, toe surgery in June, thankfully paid for by Uncle Sam’s tax returns. Then, a death in the family in July. Now, a medical crisis in August. What vacation?
We know things break down in the natural world—cars, the a/c, our immune systems, and yes, our bodies. Not everyone, or everything’s, an attack by Satan or spiritual warfare. But gosh, it sure feels that way sometimes, doesn’t it?
And, actually, not everything that breaks down is bad, either. Take compost, for example. Into my compost pile goes some unpleasant things…food scraps, newspapers, grass, wood ash, coffee grounds. Wah-lah, in a few months, out comes a lovely organic garden soil, which nurtures flowers and plants. God does, literally, create beauty out of garbage.
I’ve appreciated this month’s sermon themes on decision-making. In the midst of challenges we face, it’s not the challenge, but the person we become within them. I don’t understand all the reasons why we face certain challenges, or even seemingly more than our fair share, at times. In the great words of a facebook meme: I don’t tell God how big my mountain is; I tell my mountain how big my God is. I have prayed unceasingly (trust me), reached out to my “angel” crew for support, and discovered God’s grace through others who have been there, done that.
One night, I believe God gave me a word picture, a metaphor. I suddenly saw Jesus sitting at the Last Supper, when He said, “One of you will betray me.” (Matthew 26:20). In turn, the disciples asked him, “is it I, Lord?” When it got to Judas, and he asked, Jesus said, “Yes, it is you.” (Matthew 26:25). Jesus knew who his betrayer was. I’m not comparing my situation to what Jesus faced, rather, I received a clear message from God telling me to know my enemy. That might sound frightful, but it actually gave me a sense of peace and a feeling of boldness.
Going back to gardening analogies, a good gardener studies the enemy…a pest, or a disease, or a drought, that is attacking the garden. That way, it can be repelled or eradicated or resolved. In terms of decision making, or character building, how can you face what you can’t identify?
The Bible is resplendent with verses on our enemy. Whether it’s a battle with a person, unfortunately, or with some sort of adversity, God’s word directs us to “Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6).
In our humanity, we might cry, or cringe, feel sad, (or rant and rave.) But MY God is telling MY mountain, that I am strong, I am courageous, I am unafraid, I am not alone, and God is with me.