Be a War Horse

Have you ever seen the movie, “War Horse”? Well, hold that thought in your pocket: we’re going to come back to it, I promise.

In the mean time…

I have simply relished my morning time in God’s Word as I’ve steadily made my way through Second Chronicles. The tales of king after king waltzes across my mind’s eye in vivid color as I gaze upon their risings up and their fallings down. All their strengths and weaknesses seem to come alive, tantalizing me with their vibrancy of truth.

This morning, after I finished the brief chronology of Jotham, I could not help but contrast him with his father, Uzziah; particularly, I am certain, because I quickly noticed I had penned an underline of their individual summaries on the same small page–and each of these sentences contained an identical word: the Hebrew word chazaq.

Now I don’t lay claim to any sort of scholarly understanding of ancient Hebrew, thus when a word or phrase catches my eye I gratefully look it up on http://www.blueletterbible.org. Accordingly in these instances, the word chazaq means to grow strong. But check out this little note: “Verbs of binding, tying, girding, are applied to strength, inasmuch as with muscles well bound and with loins girded, we are stronger; on the other hand, if ungird, the weaker.” Hence, these two men grew stronger because they were girded up.

However, though each started out in the right direction, they each had different outcomes.

Uzziah: “But when he was strong (chazaq) he grew proud, to his distruction” (2 Chronicles 26:16).

Jotham: “”He became mighty (chazaq) because he ordered his ways before the Lord his God” (2 Chronicles 27:6).

Hidden in these parallels lies a remarkable truth: nothing challenges the character of a man like growing strong. If you want to see the true makeup of a man, give him a measure of success.

And I could not help but think of my son.

After months of prayer and hard work, Josh made his verbal commitment to play football for a college yesterday. A dream come true. A measure of success.

Who will he become?

I desire with my whole heart that he will make the choices which will lead him to grow strong like Jotham–that he will “become mighty because he ordered his ways before the Lord his God.” I pray he will choose to bind himself to his God–that his strength will come under the control and direction of his Lord.

Enter the War Horse.

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I can think of no other creature more magnificent–more inspiring–than this massive beast of power and obedience. Though mighty, he devotedly yields his strength and abilities to his Master. He rushes not ahead nor lags behind any of his Master’s orders, and executes all commands with a mere nudge. He will serve his Master until his dying breath.

This is what I want for my son. This will become my prayer.

I can see him in my mind now, waiting for orders, refusing to budge until he receives them, and then executing them with every fiber of his being. I see him fully girded, eager to be about his Master’s business, yet exercising control until the the call comes. I see a yielded, strong young man–a man with power under control, “useful to his Master for every good work.” I see a War Horse.

“And He will make them like His majestic steed in battle” (Zechariah 10:3d).

 

The Freedom Granted by Resurrection

As I curl up in my comfy chair this Resurrection Sunday morning, physically unable to make it yet another Easter church service, I realize that I have a coating of detachment around my heart. A sad, little vacuous chamber designed to keep pain and stressors from reaching my emotions and setting off the free-fall of physical depletion known in the ME/CFS world as “crashing.”

But I don’t want an Easter Sunday of detachment. The Resurrection of Jesus Christ should have meaning–it should impact a person’s life greatly. It should “live out” in a Christian’s life. It should “live out” in my life.

I humbly bow my head and offer to God this moment in time; I ask Him to make this a holy time–a fragrant aroma acceptable in His eyes. My heart desperately needs to understand the difference that His Resurrection creates in the life of a woman stranded on a chair in a companionless home on this morning of mornings.

Amazingly I begin to realize that this confined woman is free! I have the freedom of so many delightful gifts coursing through my veins, pulsing with each heartbeat.

I have the freedom of love. When I first came to Jesus on August 8, 1982, He drew me with His love–a sadly missing element in the heart of this (former) teenage girl. Now I have the freedom to live in that love, to drink of it deeply and often, and to greet those around me with its vibrant expression. Do I live in it perfectly? NO! But can I run to its covering and refill my empty wellsprings? Anytime I desire! His love allows me to treat fairly those who mock my faith, to have a tender heart toward those who have hurt me, and to let go of my need to always be right. His love frees me from holding on to bitterness, and all its accompanying baggage. His love–not my love–brings  the freedom of wholeness and healing unsurpassed.

I have the freedom of forgiveness. Forgiveness laid gently upon a human heart is just about as amazing as it sounds. I don’t have to live bound by the chains of past mistakes. I have sins–of course I do. I can look in the recesses of my mind and easily locate them in all their ugliness, but I don’t have to live bound to them. When Jesus conquered death, He also conquered sin. He shows His people how to live out forgiveness within their lives.  And do you know what else that means? It means that I don’t have to keep others chained to their sins against me! The freedom of forgiveness allows me to stand with Christ and proclaim, “Father, forgive them; they know not what they do.” His forgiveness allows for the mending of mistakes and the freedom of unity.

I have the freedom of life. Aha! Life in a comfy chair may not look the same in human eyes as that of a person on the go. Our human minds deceive us into devaluing the lives of those who don’t “contribute” to society. (I know. I’ve had that mindset before. In my pre-ME/CFS life. *sigh of grief*) Even in church life, we’re conditioned to evaluate what “fruit” a person’s life brings forth. We also tend to examine our own lives in the same way. We look at what we accomplish (“for the glory of God,” of course), then we get to compare that to those around us. If we do better, we justify it a good, Christian life. But just having that style of living taken away from me has set me free to examine my own life the way God desires: by weighing out myself daily in His hands. Did I live today as He would have me? Did I accomplish HIS to-do list for my day? If so, then I get to sleep the sleep of an honest laborer, free from unfair burdens placed upon me. Jesus declared that He came “to give life, and that more abundantly.” When looked at from the outside, my life may not seem that abundant. Does that mean my God left me out? By the greatness of His love, no! When I look up the word “abundantly” on http://www.blueletterbible.org/, I find that abundantly can also mean “something further.” My life on this earth may not resound with our culture, but Christ has indeed given me a “something further” life. I find a richness often overlooked on this earth, and I get the hope of eternal life to come.

Gratefulness fills my heart as I realize that my Resurrection Sunday contains as much power as any other Christian. I may not get to fill the energy pulse with each beat as worship fills a sanctuary. I may not get to encounter joyous hugs from other believers. And I may not witness the glorious induction of fellow saints into the Kingdom of God. But I get to know my Redeemer lives…and He lives out the power of His loving, forgiving life in me.

“It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery” (Galatians 5:1).

Freedom: Confined no more!

Freedom: Confined no more!

Be a Copycat

My nephew put up as his post on facebook this morning: “Jesus isn’t looking for faithful churchgoers. He’s looking for copycats.”

I was stumped for a few moments. What could he possibly mean? Isn’t one of the problems with churches today the fact that everyone seems to copycat everyone else? Follow the culture? Let someone else set a lowered “norm” and then everyone else jump on the bandwagon?

But then my SIL (his mom) chimed in: ” I have never heard it put quite that way before. Imitators/copycats.” Ohhhhh…the light in my dim mind switched on.

Copycats of GOD! Doing exactly what He does. It didn’t take long before I remembered the old “I Love Lucy” episode where Lucy “mirrors” Harpo Marx. It takes effort and focus to truly mirror someone else–even with practice! You have to keep your eyes fixed and not allow the smallest thing to distract you from doing exactly what the other person is doing.

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Obviously the copyright for this photo belongs to someone way more cooler than me.

The thing with the mirror game is that eventually the person being mirrored wants to trip up the one mirroring. But not so with our God. He delights to take it slow enough that we can learn to faithfully follow Him and become true imitators.

My thoughts then meandered over to Ephesians 5:1-2.

“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love just as Christ also loved you, and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.”

Keep your focus on Christ. Look into His eyes and His heart, and then do what He does: walk in love and sacrifice.

 

Just a Blip on the Screen

On April 23 of this year, I will have spent twenty-seven months in relapse. Twenty-seven months. That’s a whole lot of time to spend in bed or on the couch. That’s a whole lot of time to spend in the seclusion of the weary. However–and here’s the odd thing–it doesn’t feel like twenty-seven months! Not even by a long shot.

Sure! I can look back and calculate the amount of time I’ve missed. I can recall the events that have passed me by–the sweet memories of life that never had a chance to come alive in my heart in mind. I can pull up the disappointments I faced and felt…the moments that grieved my spirit and left me with tears streaming down my face. The cultivation of one’s inner being does not come without nicks and bruises.

Imagine my surprise, however, when I realized that my twenty-seven months passed no more slowly than anyone else’s. You, as well as I, can look back with vivid recall to a remembrance or a special occasion only to become aware that the time has slipped by since that moment or timeframe.

What? My daughter graduated Bible college and now attends a local community college? My son went from tenth grade to almost graduating–and I taught him? How did these things happen? Birthdays. Anniversaries. Driver’s license. Moving away. Moving home. New jobs. Life went on.

And, just like any other mother, I rejoiced over each triumph and wept over each loss.

And I learned to not carry burdens that God didn’t design me to carry.

So I prayed.

And in the praying, I learned joy.

And in the joy, I grew to understand how God carries His children “on eagle’s wings.”

My God has delighted to carry me from January 23, 2012 to this very day, just as He has delighted to carry me every other day in every other way. His nearness–His presence–makes this leg of my journey not unbearable, but enjoyable and satisfying! The knowledge that, just like everyone else, I live to accomplish HIS goals for my life not His goals for anyone else’s life frees me to live this day–just this one day–this one small blip on the screen–for His glory.

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“Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing in us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison” 2 Corinthians 4:16-17

Choose Mercy

I have been married twenty-seven years. You know what that means, don’t you? I have had ample time to realize that Prince Charming has imperfections.

He makes mistakes.

Not only that, but he can make the same mistake a whole slew of times.

Twenty-seven years has also given me enough time to realize that I have periods of embracing “pet” mistakes. What I mean is that during a certain phase of our marriage I might have one mistake that I deem a “cardinal” sin against me.

You never knew I had such a brutal side, did you?

The current cardinal sin–one which I am certain has had prominence before–happens when my darling husband makes a plan that affects me…but he doesn’t communicate it to me. This certain breakdown in dialogue impacts me so strongly at this point in time–I am sure–because the debilitation from my relapse of ME/CFS allows me so few choices. Thus, when a small decision is “stripped” from me, I hurt.

Take today for example.

I awakened with hopes of spending some much needed time with my husband. I’ve been point-blank exhausted for two weeks straight, hitting some pretty low lows. However, I had noticed that I’ve had some moments of clarity shortly after I get up, and today I had anticipated sharing those with my beloved. Unfortunately, he had another game plan for his day of which I remained unaware…until he popped into our bedroom to say good-bye…an hour and a half before expected.

Sure, I knew about his need to serve at our church’s Ladies’ Spring Tea, but I had no idea that he intended to go to our son’s track meet beforehand. I understood he would spend his afternoon away from me, but I entertained no conception that he would likewise spend those imagined, dearly-held moments away from me as well.

Oh, the places my mind and heart wanted to travel!

“Does he not remember me?”

“Does he think I don’t need his time, too?”

“Doesn’t he remember how we talked about my need for his communication?”

“Sigh.”

Then the most ludicrous image popped into my mind: my husband and my son tip-toeing across the floor, trying to sneak out, and, with smirks smeared across their faces, whispering to each other, “Don’t tell mom!”

For, truthfully–and my mind fully knew this to be so–that would have to be how the scenario unrolled itself for my husband to have intentionally neglected my feelings and input, and chose instead to make plans with his son. Plans which affected me, but did not include me.

As I sank into my “morning chair” where I usually share my heart with my Lord, and allow Him to share His with me, I whispered, “Please help me choose mercy.”

At that instant I immediately recognized God’s truth: “My hope is in the Lord, not in my husband.”

My hope in in the Lord–not in my husband!

His truths continued to swirl around my heart and mind. Everyone makes a mistake. Everyone makes the same mistake over and over again. Everyone needs forgiveness. I have received forgiveness over and over again. I can offer forgiveness over and over again.

My heart filled with praise to my One True Hope.

Moments later, when the magnitude of this “cardinal sin” had been reduced to its rightful place of “honest mistake,” my husband phoned. I embraced his call with joy rather than the need to share my hurt. Not even one single word.

Guess what happened next? The track meet was running behind, so he came home.

My God knew.

My God tended to the needs and hearts of each of us.

His mercy flowed…both to us and through us.

“Let not mercy and truth forsake you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart” (Proverbs 3:3).

A Bone-Weary Non-Blogger

Hey! It’s me? Remember me? The woman, wife and mother who loves Jesus and wants to share how He works Himself out in her life and home? The woman with ME/CFS who gets so tired she doesn’t know her name? The woman who seemingly dropped off the face of the earth almost a year ago–at least as far as blogging goes? Yep. Still me.

I have to confess to you something you already know: I have not been blogging. And what you don’t know: I have no excuse.

I made up excuses in my head. They sounded good at the time. They went something like this:

  • I’m too tired to even try to think. (Sometimes true…and I slept. However pressing myself to think usually makes me come more alive!)
  • I don’t want to rattle off trite truths from my flesh.
  • If I named my blog “Just a Scribe” because I only want to write what God puts on my heart, how can I write if I don’t know for certain that this is from God?
  • And so on…

However, God has shown me loads of wonderful words. My morning times with Him bring delightful nutritious food to my soul most days. (Though I still have mornings where my ME/CFS has such a strong grip on my mind that I just need Him to essentially “bottle-feed” me my daily portion.) In essence, I have allowed myself to “drift.” Not spiritually, mind you, but in my calling. I’ve allowed my health to dictate how I felt and how I allowed God to use me. I never once questioned it. I just asked myself how I felt and went from there.

While it is true that the Bible paints several portraits of trees bearing fruit “in season,” I also comprehend the condition of my own heart and make no excuses for it. Pastor Levi Lusko says something along these lines: “If Satan can’t keep you from your salvation, he will keep you from your calling.” Can someone please say “ouch” for me?

With this in mind, I choose to join the Apostle Paul and write according to God’s call on my life and not on how I feel. Certainly, I understand that gaps will inevitably occur due to my health, but I need to continue past those and “be about my Father’s business.”

So don’t let me get away with slacking off! If you notice I haven’t written in quite a while, drop me a note and tell me to get on the stick!

And thank you for your faithfulness!

In Him,

brenda

“You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain…” (John 15:16a)

The Sweet Joy of Obedience

Believe it or not, last week I floundered in my desire to follow-through on a commitment I had made. Have you ever done that? Of course you have! Who hasn’t? You see, each week I dedicate some time to do a little behind-the-scenes work on my computer for our church. And last week–guess what?–I didn’t want to do it! I plainly and simply did.not.want.to.do.it.

Yet God, with great faithfulness and kindness, reminded me of a solid, old lesson He had taught me years ago:

Joy doesn’t come with the anticipation of obedience–joy comes with the actual obedience.

Yet in order for true joy to flow, I had to remember one key ingredient: Who was I doing this for anyway? The church secretary? Nope. My sweet husband? Not even. To preen the vanity of my own self? Still no. The only way that true joy–not just happiness–could sweep across my heart and spirit was if I offered this ministration as my own personal drink offering to Jesus. If I was willing to take that which had been given to me and pour it out through my service to my church, but as unto Him.

Another gentle reminder that streamed across my mind came from the example laid out in The Law: God commanded the Israelites to offer only the best of their flocks and vines. Their unblemished animals. Their firstfruits. They were not allowed to toss “any ol’ thing” upon the altar: God required that it cost them their highest as a reflection of His worthiness to receive their worship. And do you know what? I bet that the heart of each Israelite who truly worshiped Jehovah–despite any original balking–ultimately rejoiced to exalt God with such a blessed offering. For only the heart of one who has considered the cost, yet offered his ultimate sacrifice anyway, could fully enter into that joyful place of true worship.

We all have our offerings to surrender. Our sacrifices of service. Our personal drink offerings. We all know what it’s like to make a commitment, then struggle with the desire to follow through. We have all balked when we realized the true cost. Trust me, it’s rare to understand the full cost at the onset of our service. Yet God asks us to adhere to each word of commitment we have made. Not merely because of others–but for the sweet joy of walking in obedience to Him.

“But even if I am being poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I rejoice and share my joy with you all. And you too, I urge you, rejoice in the same way and share your joy with me” (Philippians 2:17-18).