My mother has told me multiple times that “at the point of your commitment will be the point of your trial.”
She’s certainly right.
I made a commitment to Jesus this morning. I can’t tell you now whether the commitment came before or after the first arrow, I just know two things: I made a commitment, and I got hit with an arrow. This arrow had poison on it I believe. And it was made of something really sticky that burns for a really long time.
The poison on this arrow had defeat in it. And discouragement. Maybe a touch of despair. And somehow, once it landed, it started pulling in all its friends and I ended up in a place where I was questioning my intelligence, my reasoning, my purpose, and a seed that is just beginning to show signs of life.
I’ve wanted to blame the person from whom the arrow came all day. I’ve wanted to and I’ve struggled not to. I really don’t believe that person meant to shoot that arrow. As a matter of fact, I don’t believe the person even knows the arrow left the quiver.
I don’t believe the person I am thinking of is the archer.
The archer, I believe, is the enemy of my soul. The one who knows he can’t harm me but can shoot arrows at me all day long. He’s an opportunist. He took a shot, and it landed.
As I may have mentioned in previous posts, I’m a bit stubborn and not very alert sometimes. So I got hit with another couple of arrows before I figured out what was going on. One was rather mild, and I think was an attempt to get me to lose my temper. I thank God that one didn’t work (because I have a fearsome temper that God is working on getting under His control). However, while the temper didn’t explode, the despair and defeat got a little stickier.
Funny thing, I was listening to a podcast that was talking about being hammered with the fiery darts of the evil one and speaking the Name of Jesus out loud…while the second arrow hit. Did it make a connection in my brain? Nope. At that point I wasn’t really aware that the first deal was an arrow. I was just swimming through the poison of it, feeling sorry for my sorry self.
It was the last one that really clued me in. It was just ridiculous. Just mean. I sat here on my couch, and I said to my Jesus that I just wanted to cry. I told Him that I didn’t like this day. (I may have whined a little…) I would say, because it sounds just like Him, that He brought to my mind a thought: “Well this is a test.” A test of my commitment. Because the arrows I was hit with today are the arrows that have brought me to my knees before. Maybe not the way they played out in real life, but the intent behind them and the poison they carried are the same.
I am awed and humbled that the commitment still stands. God’s grace TRULY is sufficient. You know what’s weird? I’ve made this commitment multiple times before and failed multiple times. Every time I’ve stood up, I’ve gotten knocked back down again. So what was different this time? Inquiring minds (meaning mine) want to know.
I’m not sure I have concrete answers. All I can do is look back at what He’s done in my heart. One thing is that He has reminded me that today is all that I need to be concerned with. Not yesterday; I can’t change it. Not tomorrow; it isn’t here yet and I’m wasting energy worrying about it. Give us this day our daily bread.
Another thing is that I had an experience yesterday (a wonderful one) that had some associations attached to it. Not the people, the activity. The activity isn’t wrong, but I have, in my horrid past, misused it – which is the association my brain has. So I got up this morning feeling weird, feeling like God was a million miles away. I guess I should explain that in my brain, when it feels like someone is distant from me, I begin frantically searching for the cause, because in my human experience (this is greatly generalized) it’s usually because I’ve done something wrong. Or at least that’s what my brain tells me. So of course, my knee-jerk reaction this morning when it felt like God was as far from me as the moon, was to start searching myself for what I did wrong.
(Now, let me say quickly that I am a sinner. I know this because I am a human being. We are all sinners. So, yes, sometimes the distance is perceived because we have sinned and stepped outside His will. Here’s the clue, though: if you have stepped outside His will He will tell you exactly what is wrong. Conviction is specific. There will be no doubt in your mind. Condemnation, however, is a whole nother animal. Condemnation is generalized. Just an icky feeling of fear, anxiety, despair, depression, defeat. I can speak with some authority on this subject because I have dealt so often with both. Here’s one more difference, and it’s an important one: Conviction does not carry with it the sting of shame. Only condemnation does. Romans 8:1 says “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Jesus doesn’t shame us. He just gently points out our sin with words that are dripping with grace. His grace. His love.)
Where was I…?
Oh yes, so I was frantically searching my memory banks for whatever it was I needed to confess so I could feel His closeness again. But you know what? I couldn’t find anything. (Jesus has me in the habit of confessing right away…I really dislike carrying around a bag of sin that I then have to unpack and go through. I’d rather just agree with Him right when He shows it to me. Sometimes I’m ignoring Him and then other things pile in and pile up…but He’s so faithful to show me.) I have to admit I was stumped a little this morning. I started confessing sins I’d already confessed. I can imagine Him sitting there going “I don’t know what you’re talking about??”
Here again, my God is so faithful and true. He reminded me what I learned from one of my favorite bible teachers, Chip Ingram. God is for me, not against me. He’s not mad at me. He’s never mad at me. He never withholds Himself from His child because He’s angry. That’s a human reaction, but it’s one we associate with Him all too often. But God is completely other, and His love is REAL love that sometimes we have a hard time grasping.
I have been in a habit of asking Him to fight my battles. I’m not a very good soldier. I get whiny and scared and I’ll curl up in a ball like an armadillo. Not very effective in a battle situation. But over and over in His word He tells us that He will fight our battles for us, that when I am overwhelmed, He will lead me to the rock that is higher than I. So I’ve started asking Him to. I have a task, though, I have to suit up in His armor. Because sometimes He’ll be behind us, sometimes before us, but we’ll be in the thick of the battle whether we want to be or not. So He’s given us a full set of armor to put on. We just have to choose to use it.
So this morning, I asked Him to fight my battles, and then began praying on His armor. I’ll say again I’m not a soldier, so the victory isn’t mine to claim…it is His armor that protects us. Without it we are naked and afraid, and extremely vulnerable to the attacks of our enemy.
What would have happened to my commitment today if He hadn’t prompted me to pray on the armor He has provided? What would have happened to my outlook? I can’t say, because He doesn’t usually tell us the story of what didn’t happen. All I can say is that He prompted me to suit up, for once I obeyed, and rather than falling victim to Satan’s schemes, I was only singed a little. I count that as a win.
Suit up, sisters. The battle is fierce, the enemy is formidable, but our God is FEARSOME.