Life IS Hard. Don’t be Afraid of the World

There are times when I wake up and I start reading all the email {insert coffee here} that came in overnight- well, truthfully reading essentials and trashing what I can and leaving some unopened for later when it’s convenient to read. Then there are the times I wake up, start reading the email and it’s just TMI {even with coffee}.

More than I can take in and process. It’s not that I don’t want to know what’s on sale at my favorite shopping spots on the web; it’s not that I don’t want to read a friend’s latest blog post; it’s not that I don’t want to know what’s been dug up by archaeologists and how that relates to scripture and history repeating itself. It’s just information overload. Those days I’m doing good to be breathing and vertical.

Those days I begin to think that having the slate wiped is not such a bad thing. All the way back to Tabula Rasa – the blank slate waiting to be written upon. For new things never thought before, never learned, never believed to be carved upon my heart and mind.  An in real life do-over. {how’s that for weird?}

However, can we un-have an experience, an emotion, a touch, a vision, an overheard conversation? Of course, we can’t. So we bumble along, a jumble of thoughts, memories, emotions, beliefs, likes, dislikes hoping that we don’t make a mess of it along the way.

Yet, we are here for a reason.  Jesus, in praying for the disciples and for future believers, says in John 17:18 “As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world.”

We have been sent. Right into the thick of it. Scary thought. Right?

 He also tells us: “Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” John 14:27b.

I don’t know about you, but when someone tells me not to be afraid or troubled that’s about the time I start being troubled and afraid. Because, by the very way it is spoken, it implies that there are going to be troubling and fearful things we will encounter out there in the world.

The truth of it is that some days we will shut down whether from TMI or from the things at hand. Life is hard. And it doesn’t matter if you live in a pup-tent or a palace- the news of what’s going on in the world can send us over the edge of reason. 

The good news of it all is that Jesus told us that it will be hard, that we will suffer, that the world will hate us because it hates Him. He gave us fair warning of what we will face as His followers.  He knew what we would be facing whether in first century Christianity or in twenty-first century.  We are not alone and we are not blank slates.  “But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” John 14:26

So, we open our email, we trash the irrelevant, we answer the important, we save the ones we want to read later. And, we get on with the day.  We have much to learn about not being alone, troubled and afraid. He has much to teach us.

May all we hear and see and read and reach today remind us that He is with us and this is a life lesson He is teaching us.                

 Are you ready? School is about to start for another day.

Dear reader, thanks for reading my early morning rambling thoughts today.  What’s rambling about in your corner of the world this morning?

 

The Whisper

There is a battle raging over us – all around us. You can call it terrorism, evil, sadness, anxiety, fear, anger, frustration, murder, jealousy, unforgiveness, betrayal, poison-whatever.  It doesn’t matter what we call it. Ultimately it is suffering. Even the earth itself is suffering as evidenced by earthquakes, violent storms, tsunamis, tornadoes, huråçricanes, cyclones, gale force winds, freak snow storms- all “natural” phenomena; with violence at their core.

We can, in our “natural” selves stand defiant, bloody, yet unbowed. We can shout to the world our confidence in spite of our dismay. But we are here today and gone tomorrow. Some would argue to the contrary and point to the many ways man has progressed in the world and the lasting mark he has made for the good of mankind over the centuries and that the violence is an abberation of the norm.

However, I know demonic activity when I see it. 

You believe that God is one; well and good. Even the demons believe that—and tremble with fear. James 2:19

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens.” Ephesians 6:12

Be sober and alert. Your enemy the devil, like a roaring lion, is on the prowl looking for someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8

This week I have seen bombs kill and maim people all over the world from east to west. I have seen earthquakes and the dead they left behind. I’ve seen explosions level whole sections of cities at home and abroad.I’ve seen houses gone haywire from fires and floods leaving devastating marks on the people who live in them. I’ve seen schemes of murder carried out, children abducted, people starving, and families killed- all on the evening news.

In my circle of existence I’ve seen jealousy, envy, distrust, extreme behavior in children, parents accosted verbally in front of other parents and children, children out of control and out of touch with reality, young people making decisions no one ever expected of them, spouses at each other’s throats and I’ve seen fear in all these things.

Nature has also been busy in my neck of the woods. Storms, high winds, mature trees ripped out of the ground, branches broken off like toothpicks fell willy-nilly in streets and alleys, on fences, on other trees and on houses. There have been sudden shifts in temperature. This week we had a record for the highest low temperature on that day in April since we started keeping records.

I see these things and I am full of sorrow for the suffering; but I knew it would come. I see the results of battles fought unseen; but I know the outcome.

 “I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In the world you have trouble and suffering, but take courage—I have conquered the world.”  John 16:33

I am not being trite or simplistic. The Creator, the High King of Heaven, He told us these things would happen.

“Remember, I have told you ahead of time.” Matthew 24:25

We have had clear warning of all these things.

“You will hear of wars and rumors of wars. Make sure that you are not alarmed, for this must happen, but the end is still to come. For nation will rise up in arms against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines and earthquakes in various places.” Matthew 24:6-7

We must arm ourselves with the protective gear He gives and use the one weapon that is successful against the unseen foe.  There will be a fight.

“For this reason, take up the full armor of God so that you may be able to stand your ground on the evil day, and having done everything, to stand. Stand firm therefore, by fastening the belt of truth around your waist, by putting on the breastplate of righteousness, by fitting your feet with the preparation that comes from the good news of peace, and in all of this, by taking up the shield of faith with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” Ephesians 6:13-17

 

We are in a war. No one arms himself unless he expects a fight.

 

He told us how we are to behave toward the enemy we see.

But I say to you, love your enemy and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be like your Father in heaven, since he causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. Matthew 5:44-45

Love must be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil, cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another with mutual love, showing eagerness in honoring one another. Do not lag in zeal, be enthusiastic in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, endure in suffering, persist in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints, pursue hospitality. Bless those who persecute you, bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty but associate with the lowly. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil; consider what is good before all people. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all people. Do not avenge yourselves, dear friends, but give place to God’s wrath, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. Rather, if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in doing this you will be heaping burning coals on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12:9-21

He told us how we are to behave toward the unseen enemy.

With every prayer and petition, pray at all times in the Spirit, and to this end be alert, with all perseverance and requests for all the saints. Romans 6: 18

Be sober and alert. Your enemy the devil, like a roaring lion, is on the prowl looking for someone to devour. Resist him, strong in your faith, because you know that your brothers and sisters throughout the world are enduring the same kinds of suffering. 1Peter 5:8-9

And finally-listen for His voice. We have to pay attention to all these things in the world that are happening. God is not in them. But He is here- and He speaks to us as He spoke to Elijah when he ran away from danger:

 The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord. Look, the Lord is ready to pass by.” A very powerful wind went before the Lord, digging into the mountain and causing landslides, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the windstorm there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake, there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. After the fire, there was a soft whisper. When Elijah heard it, he covered his face with his robe and went out and stood at the entrance to the cave. All of a sudden a voice asked him, “Why are you here, Elijah?” 1Kings 19:11-13

We can not run away. He speaks to us in a whisper-not in all those violent things around us. We must listen. The battles will come. We know He will win. 

Shall we not fight like we know it? Arm yourselves, we’ve battles to fight!

Be strong and courageous! Do not fear or tremble before them, for the Lord your God is the one who is going with you. He will not fail you or abandon you!” Deuteronomy 31:6