Ready For Battle

I was reading Bible stories to Kaylia and Everett a few nights ago. We started at the beginning with the story of creation, and moved on to the Garden of Eden and the snake with the fruit. I’ve read those stories so many times, it’s easy to go into auto-pilot, and not even think about what I’m reading, but Kaylia pulled a question out from the depths of her mind which stopped me in my tracks. Our conversation went a little like this:

Kaylia: “Why did Eve listen to the serpent?”

Me: “Well, he lied to her and tricked her.”

Kaylia: “Does that mean I will listen to Satan, and he will trick me like he tricked Eve?”

Me: “Sometimes we do get tricked, but we have Jesus to help us.”

Kaylia: “But didn’t Adam and Eve spend time with God? Why didn’t He help them?”

Me: “Hmm. Well, yes, they did spend time with God – He went into the garden and walked with them all the time.”

Kaylia: “If He spent time with them, but they were still tricked, how will Jesus help me not to get tricked?”

This has stayed with me. Although I remember the conversation clearly up to this point, I can’t actually remember what I said in response to this, because I was suddenly aware of a new realization: I see myself as smarter than Adam and Eve. Somehow, in my great familiarity of this story, I’ve stopped putting myself into it, and started seeing myself above it. Obviously, I wouldn’t make the same mistake – I would see right through the lies, and choose to stay close to God instead! Wouldn’t I?!

But Kaylia’s question brought it down to the root of it all – how are we any different? Isn’t this the story of humanity? We long for God, but we have doubts. We start to think, “Does God really love me? Is He holding anything back from me? I need to take control, because I feel safer when I am at the wheel.”

How will we avoid Satan’s schemes and see through the little lies he whispers to us in those moments of weakness? It’s only by the grace of God, and the presence of the Holy Spirit. This is interesting, because in my mind, actually walking in the Garden of Eden with God sounds as close to heaven as we could get on this earth, and yet the Bible tells us it’s better to have the Spirit right inside of us. But how often do I take that for granted? The Holy Spirit covering me, protecting me, opening my eyes to truth, softening my heart, increasing my sensitivity, growing my hunger for the things of God, causing me to long for more awareness of His presence?

It’s the only thing making me any different from Adam and Eve. It’s the only thing, and it’s everything.

I’ve been stuck on the Armour of God passage in Ephesians for the last week, and Kaylia’s question has made me think about how I take God’s protection for granted. A wise friend of mine prays this passage over her family every day, and I’ve started to do the same – not out of fear, but rather with joy and confidence. How much stronger and more intentional could I be each day if I purposely, intentionally put on the protection of the Holy Spirit?

The passage starts with this verse: “Finally, be strong in the Lord….” Not my own strength. The point was never to make it on my own. I stand firm against the devil’s schemes because I’m ready for battle. I’m not smarter, I’m not stronger, I’m not more deserving. I’m just ready, because I have the Holy Spirit.

strong in the Lordsource

I love how The Message says it:

“So take everything the Master has set out for you, well-made weapons of the best materials. And put them to use so you will be able to stand up to everything the Devil throws your way….Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them.”

Tools waiting to be used, set out before me, available at any moment. But I’ve taken God’s truth and peace for granted, and I haven’t been using these weapons to their full potential. I do use them, but not the same way a seasoned warrior would – not with the same earnestness as if I were really seeing this struggle as a fight, every moment. But thoughts, temptations, little annoyances and frustrations of life are all able to pull me away from the presence of Jesus, to distract me from what truly matters, and get my attention off the things of Christ. I don’t want that anymore. I want to be strong, focused, intentional, while still being joyful, peaceful, and full of grace. Isn’t that such an interesting combination?!

I was reading a book about a warrior to Kaylia last night, and it described him as feeling fully alive and charged up as he prepared for a fight, because “it was what he’d been made to do.” He didn’t feel fear or doubt and uncertainty. He felt the rush of adrenaline and confidence as he got ready for what was to come, fulfilling his destiny and purpose.

So this morning, like every morning, I take up my weapons. I choose to focus on the feelings of joy and confidence, because the final battle has already been won, but there’s these daily fights I need to rise up against. I’m made to do this, with the Holy Spirit inside of me, and God’s weapons laid out for me. It’s a good fight.





Behind the Scenes of My Personality

Sometimes I wonder if anyone else could possibly feel as socially awkward as I do in certain situations.

Apparently they do, but it’s always hard to believe, because everyone else looks so normal. I suppose I look normal sometimes, too, but it doesn’t always feel that way inside.

I have a very sweet new friend I’m getting to know who told me the other day that she thought I must always be cool and calm in any situation.

What a reminder of how deceiving appearances can be! Cool and calm…well, hardly ever, on the inside, at least.

But if I can fake it, so can everybody else. Do you ever wonder what people would really be like if they were completely transparent?

Maybe it would be scary. Or bonding and unifying?

I love what Donald Miller writes in Searching For God Knows What about Adam and Eve. Pretty much, they didn’t have a care in the world. They felt completely loved by God, and they needed nothing else. They could just freely wander around the new world, buck-naked, free, and secure. Until the day everything was ruined…

I started asking myself why Moses would say five times that people were naked before the Fall, but after the Fall they went around with clothes on… The very first thing that happened after Adam and Eve ate from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil was that they noticed they were naked. And man, I couldn’t stop thinking about how whatever happened at the Fall made them aware they were naked…

Here is what I think Moses was saying: Man is wired so he gets his glory (his security, his understanding of value, his feeling of purpose, his feeling of rightness with his Maker, his security for eternity) from God, and this relationship is so strong, and God’s love is so pure, that Adam and Eve felt no insecurity at all, so much so that they walked around naked and didn’t even realize they were naked. But when that relationship was broken, they knew it instantly. All of their glory, the glory that came from God, was gone… (Searching For God Knows What, source)

And we’re still longing for that glory.

I am definitely pro-clothes. The point is not being naked.

The point is feeling that secure in God’s love, that free to be completely yourself, and not always be thinking about what is socially acceptable behavior. I know some people pretend not to worry at all about what people think of them, but everybody, no matter how confident they appear, has an image they wish to portray, even if it’s “I’m so confident, I don’t give a rip what other people think of me.” But in their lonely moments, there has to be insecurity there somewhere.

There are countless ways in which we cover up our weaknesses and secret sins. We hide and present a more acceptable self to the world.

There is such a thing as too much information. Or maybe it has more to do with the place and time and people.

Either way, I really, really believe that everyone needs a safe place where they can be completely themselves.Where they could confess anything, and still find total love and acceptance.

I wish I could be that for people. I wish I could get rid of all critical, judgmental tendencies, and make my home that safe place for people. I wish I could get past my desire to display a perfect front.

The other day when I stepped out my door, I specifically thought to myself, “I am SO GLAD no one can see my house right now!!”

And then an hour later, when I came back in through the door, my neighbor came with me.

I did it for me, and for her, too.

For me, because I needed to remind myself that a perfect front gets in the way of what I truly want in life. Although I would dearly love to own a pinterest-worthy home, I really want a home where people are welcome anytime. Where they feel comfortable and at home, and they go grab their own glass of water because they know exactly where the cups are.

And I did it for her, so she knows she never needs to worry about the state of her home when I come over. I did it to show her that I draw her close into my life, even if it means a little mess.

Mess is real. Whether it’s in my house or my emotions or my bad habits, everybody has it, but some people manage to never show it. I wonder what they feel like inside. I wonder if it gets tiring. I get tired when I try to make my life look perfect.

So come into my mess. Feel a little bit better about yours. And remember that everyone has the same deep longing to wander the world fully loved, accepted and free.