Monday, November 15, 2010

Firm in the Faith

Ephesians 6:14-16 (NIV) Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.

When I read this passage, I envision a Roman soldier, equipped for battle, standing firm and steadfast among the rank and file. The early Christians, living under Roman rule, were all too familiar with the image Paul evokes here, yet brilliantly alters to reflect what it means to "put on the full armor of God" (Ephesians 6:11). He is keenly aware that the enemy, Satan, is alive and well and eager to claim the souls of Christ's followers. There is a battle at hand, there is a war brewing, and Paul exhorts the Ephesians to be prepared in truth, righteousness, the gospel of peace, and faith for the times that will try their souls and try to take them from the Lord.

One constant I have noticed as I strive to walk with Jesus is that every affliction or adversity encountered eventually leads me to a deeper, more profound spiritual revelation. While I trudge through the valley of the shadows, though, this is difficult if not impossible to remember as I wallow selfishly in my troubles, turning them over to God only to snatch them back like a spoiled toddler. It is in the midst of those moments when I most need to stop and take an inventory of my armor. Has the belt of truth been buckled? Is my breastplate tarnished with self-righteousness? Am I sharing the gospel of peace with others through prayer and witness? Is my shield of faith drooping woefully at my side? When Satan bids me dwell on my trials instead of counting my blessings, it's time to acknowledge the chinks and flaws I've allowed to blemish my armor and pray that God will mend it like new.

So, let me ask you - what does your armor look like today? Does your belt buckle need a bit of spit and polish? Is your breastplate shining and squarely in place? Are your feet ready to go and spread the good news? Is your shield held high and triumphant? If not, take the time to reflect and to pray that the Lord will heal any hurts you now suffer and surround you once more in His protective and loving armor and arms.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Strong Hands of the Father

John 3:35 - The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in his hands.

Our hands are such an integral and accustomed adjunct to our bodies that, unless they ache with overuse or arthritis, suffer dried, cracked skin, or require washing after enduring labor in the garage or garden or home, we scarcely notice them. We take for granted that in typing an e-mail, dusting the furniture, grasping the leash of our head-strong dog, or wiping away the tear of a child, our hands will perform for us without question. They are servants, obedient and unflinchingly pliant to the commands of our brains; it is often too easy to neglect their importance and functionality, to be grateful, through them, for the inimitable gift of touch.

When Danny and I first met in person after courting on E-Harmony for almost two months, my most vivid recollection of our date at Chili's was the feel of his hands when he reached for and held mine and, gazing into my eyes, said he wanted to see me again. I immediately registered the simultaneous strength and gentleness in his grasp and returned, what I hoped then, was the same. Our hands did more to communicate a mutual trust and optimism for what may lie in store for the two of us than anything else we said or did that day and, to this day, I still covet slipping my hand into his, feeling his warm, strong and comforting clasp that says, "I love you" without a word spoken.

Last Sunday, I witnessed Danny's hands put to a new and different task: that of holding Virginia Rose, my granddaughter, and his adopted. He held her on his lap on our deck and gently tickled her abdomen; she promptly launched into gales of laughter and this Gammie snapped some priceless shots, one of which I've posted here. Her merriment was so contagious that we couldn't help but laugh with her and that made her chortle all the more. The same hands that could wheedle the laughter from this baby, I realized, were the same ones holding her firmly and securely, with loving kindness and genuine affection. How can we ever underestimate the power and potential of our hands?

The Lord, our Lord, has the wold world in His hands. Let him cradle you in His, let Him tickle you, let Him hold you close and wipe away your every tear. Use your hands for Him in this life, and may He grant you the strength and courage to do so at every turn. In the name of the Lord, a simple touch can become a miracle.

Remember God's Covenant

  I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind.  Never again will the waters become a flood to dest...