I am a visual girl. I am easily distracted by what I see. I also love visuals - pictures - to replay in my mind to help me understand things. God knows that. He created me that way and in His graciousness, He often paints a picture for me of the lessons He's teaching me. This is what He's been showing me...
Last week, we had opportunity to host a number of people out at our farm. Understand that we are a little less than a third done the renovations inside our old farm house. People seem full of curiosity as to what we are doing as we make this house home. I was stressed. The To Do list seemed a mile long and the time short. I was anxious and distracted and as only the LORD can do, I sat down with my devotional book and Bible in hand and turned the page to see that my lesson was from Luke 10:38-42 on Mary and Martha!
The Lord answered her, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has made the right choice, and it will not be taken away from her." (Luke 10:38-42 NIV)
Now we could spend a LONG time on the lessons from this story but the point that the LORD was trying to get through to me that day was that I could get all worried and upset about what people would think and everything that I had to prepare or I could make the right choice and listen to Him. He'd walk me through what actually needed to be done and what's more, He'd walk me through it with joy. I was too distracted to recognize exactly what my response to Him was but, in hindsight, I'm pretty sure it went something like this... "Lord, You don't understand... I need to... They'll want..." and on from there. I spent the whole day flustered. In fact, being flustered gave way to frustration and frustration to exhaustion and impatience... you get the picture. The day was anything but victorious and I collapsed into bed that night feeling a failure.
I am so grateful that the LORD's mercies are new every morning. Great is His faithfulness! The next morning, He woke me early. Once again, I turned the page. The questions asked, "What has Satan stolen from you? What are some 'weapons' Satan has trusted in as he's battled against you? How could you use this knowledge to shield yourself from his attacks?" (90 Days With Jesus - The One and Only, Beth Moore, Day 56, pg. 270)
The LORD replayed the events of the day before and showed me how satan played on my "failures". He used the weapons of perfectionism, condemnation, self-loathing, despair and kept the invading amidst such busyness that it was hard to be still enough to hear the LORD talk me through the attack. Then He showed me how I had surrendered jewels of my inheritance to the enemy. I'd say, "it's too hard" then I'd make a mistake and hear "see, you can't do it". I'd add to that, "I"ll never get it right," and surrender my hope. The invasion of temptation and accusation raged on and on and I kept taking one step back and then another step back, constantly surrendering more and more until I had given up all freedom, joy, hope, peace...
The LORD reminded me of Ephesians 6:10-18, where we're instructed on how to battle and repeatedly told to "stand" against the enemy's assaults. It says, "in all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one" (vs. 16).
Those flaming darts are going to come. Make no mistake about it. The LORD told us they would. And contrary to what I think I believed in my head, we're going to feel them! They're going to assault our emotions and we are going to be tempted to take a step back and surrender ground to the enemy of our souls. But don't do it! Quick! Lean into your shield of faith. With every blow, stand firm behind that shield! The smell of the flame says, "you can't" - lean into the declaration "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength" (Philippians 4:13). When you get walloped with "you're a failure" - lean into the promises of Ephesians 1:3-14. Because of Christ, I am blessed, chosen, holy and blameless before God, adopted, redeemed, forgiven, lavished with grace! I've obtained an inheritance! Take that! That's not only leaning into your shield that's learning to weild the Sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God!
Had I but listened to the Lord and leaned into my Shield the first day, there wouldn't have been so much surrendered plunder to take back, but the LORD used that to paint me a picture of how imperative it is to use my shield and to show me that though satan is a "strong man", amazing things happen when we have faith in "one stronger than he" as Christ "attacks and overpowers him", taking "from him all his weapons he trusted in, and divides up his plunder" (see Luke 11:21-22).
LORD, please continue to help me recognize the weapons that are so commonly used against me. Help me to pay attention to the thoughts that are crossing my mind and take captive all thoughts that don't fall in line with the Truth of Your Word. Please keep me from being so busy that I'm too distracted to hear You as my Commander. Jesus paid an immeasurable price for my inheritance. Help me not to surrender any part of it and lead me, shield and sword in hand, armor on to victory! In Jesus' Name, amen!!