Chinks

I am behind.

For the last week I’ve been feeling my patience run dry, my voice raise louder and my frustration levels rise higher more quickly than usual. These symptoms have been compounding each passing day, along with urges of negativity, apathy and escapism.

As I was trying to catch up with dishes after lunch today, while keeping Jackson and Lauren from fighting so as to avoid the inevitable onslaught of unnecessarily dramatic tears and screams, the house finally grew quiet. That is partly because Jackson had been sequestered into the reading room and Lauren was lingering in the living room. Either way, they weren’t pestering each other, and the house was at last below recommended decibel ratings.

I flipped on the dishwasher, glad to be done with the chore, and went to peak in on the kids. Jackson was engrossed in a book. I walked through the kitchen and turned the corner into the living room, and Lauren was splashing in an enormous puddle on the floor. She looked up at me, with a huge grin on her face (and no hint of “uh-oh, I did something wrong”), and picked up Jackson’s water bottle she had found, showing me her achievement. You could see her diaper expanding out of her soaked shorts.

Lauren sitting in a puddle of her own making in the living room

We’ve all had these kinds of days (or weeks, or months or…) If fact, just now, while my son is supposed to be napping, he calls me from the bathroom where he is sitting on the toilet playing with a sticker book. Of course, what I see first is the toothpaste smeared all over the mirror for no apparent reason.

When I discovered Lauren splashing her pudgy little hands in her self-made puddle, I knew I needed to get things together. The level of chaos in the house was starting to get out of control. And just as I was formulating my battle plan, God let me know that the chaos in my own heart is what I needed to let Him get under control.

You see, God helped me to see today where there are chinks in my armor that have become footholds for Satan to use to tempt me into losing my patience, overreacting to situations and dwelling in frustration. Instead of reverting to my favorite (and comfortable) position of control, I need to put my own Sunday School lesson into action and yield control to my Commander and Savior. I need His armor and His strength to raise up His shield of faith to withstand the fiery arrows of the Devil. Too often as Christians we have this inaccurate notion that the shoes of the gospel of peace are purposed only to bring God’s Good News to others. Today, God showed me that I need His gospel of peace just as much now as I did when I first began my relationship with Him.

So, yes, I am behind on many, many things. There are toys strewn throughout the house, I could Swiffer every day and there would still be dog hair on the floor, laundry is never ending and in an hour I will begin making dinner yet again.

But, instead of those to-do’s, I am sitting here letting God work on me as I write. The Holy Spirit reminds me to “Be strong in the Lord” and that “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.”

Now, with His peace and in His presence, I’m going to tackle the laundry.

Standing firm this summer

 

On Wednesday nights this summer, a small group at our church is working to pray over every home and business in the city limits of Mountain View, Missouri.

Now, this is not a big town, but as we began the task last night, I realized just how big a vision God had given us! That’s why I am glad before we stepped a foot outside of the church, we meditated and prayed over Ephesians 6:10-20:

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 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. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.

In this passage of Scripture, God calls us to be strong in Him and to stand firm three different times. We can’t be strong on our own. We have to be “in the Lord.” In order to do this, we need to have His clothes, His words, His eyes and His voice.

First, to be in the Lord, God offers us His own armor. We get to dress like our Father, and follow Him into battle. And, He makes sure we are well protected. He gives us His belt of truth, holding everything together through Jesus, who is the way, the truth and the life. He puts on us His breastplate of righteousness that protects our hearts so we can do what is right. He laces up His shoes of the gospel of peace to ready our feet to go and bring peace through the Gospel. God helps us take up His shield of faith to protect us from Satan’s attacks. And, our Heavenly Father crowns us with His helmet of salvation, the saving work of Jesus Christ protecting and giving life to our entire being. Going out to prayerwalk, we first needed to get dressed in the armor of God.

Secondly, God provides our first offensive weapon: His Word. We are called to wield the Sword of the Spirit. To be “in the Lord”, we must have His words. We must be daily diving into Scripture and letting His Word guide us, step by step and moment by moment.

We must also have His eyes. God calls us to pray, the second offensive weapon, at all times and on every occasion. We must stay alert and persistent in prayer. Prayer is not just something we do when we can’t think of anything else to do. Prayer is not for the weak. Prayer is our opportunity to talk with our Father and see the world and every circumstance through His eyes and His point of view. It is our connection to the power of the Holy Spirit! God welcomes us into His throne room to worship Him, and invites us to sit on His lap and look out from His vantage point to see people’s hearts and lives the way He does. What an incredible privilege!!

Finally, God offers us His voice, to speak boldly and proclaim the Gospel. God gives us the words to vocalize to make known the wonder of the cross.

This is where we began on our journey to pray for God’s redemption and majesty to break out across our town. I am so incredibly grateful I can be a part of what God is planning here!

Will you join us in praying this summer? Pray for your neighborhood and your community! If you are not sure how to start, the International Mission Board has great resources you can follow, with Scriptures to claim, as you intercede for those around you.

Be strong in the Lord, and stand your ground!