I’m still standing!

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Are you standing in the dignity and strength of God, or wallowing in the slough of despondency?  I’d like to think that in the face of the Enemy, in the face of any problems you may be encountering that you are defiantly declaring to yourself and to anyone who cares to listen: “You know what?  I’m still standing!” And I’d like to think that even if you are not yet in that place, you have every intention of getting there – soon.

A few months ago on my way to work, I passed a tree where a white van had crashed into it. As a result of the crash, the bark of this tree was stripped away in several places. It had become scarred by the accident.  Now whilst the white van was a complete write-off, the tree into which it crashed still stands erect in its position. Granted, it is not as it was before, for now it bears the scars of a collision.

The Bible often refers to us as trees (see Psalm 1:3 and Jeremiah 17:7-8). Using that metaphor and combining it with the above-mentioned accident, if we were to bring these into the context of our every-day lives as believers, we could say that life sometimes crashes into us, yet we survive – and like this tree, we can remain standing. Similarly, when life crashes into us we bear those scars of collision. But whether the scars we bear are scars of bitterness, or scars of bitter experience depends upon us and upon our attitudes.

Whenever I pass this tree, I note the scars it received did not undermine its ability to function as a tree. I noted that it still held its branch arms outstretched to the heavens. It did not hold its arms down by its side in defeat or self-pity. And although anyone passing could clearly see its scars, no one would consider it as no longer a tree, or a lesser one, or inadequate in any way.

I believe we can learn a lesson from this. Yes, we may bear the scars of rejection, or tragedy, or a personal world that has caved in but in God’s eyes we are no less a person, no less his precious child. Can you accept this? Can you embrace this truth for yourself? Can you ignore the devil’s taunts, which whisper in your innermost being telling you that you are a helpless victim… that nobody loves you… that no one cares whether you live or die, whether you flourish or wither? Can you get up from, and lever yourself out of, that mental pit of misery?

And, as occasion demands, will you don your spiritual armour, or wrap yourself within the garment of praise and allow God to heal and revive your wounded spirit? Will you trust Him to cause all the awful, unjust and undeserved things that have devastated you, to work together for your good? Will you stop trying to work out how this will happen and when? Will you stop discouraging yourself because you can’t see how this can possibly work out in your, or your loved-ones’ favour? Can you stop peering with short-sighted pessimism into your future with those sorrow-tinted spectacles and instead, look at your situation with the clear bright eyes of faith?

Could you give God a chance to work his magic, to summon his majestic might on your behalf by stepping out of the way?

You can!

Of course you can. You can do all things through Christ who strengthens, empowers and invigorates you.

Remember, the one who strengthens you has gone through worse than you can ever experience or imagine. He has endured rejection and scars so horrendous that they make yours and mine look like mere blemishes by comparison (not that I’m belittling what anyone has suffered, or is currently going through). In Isaiah 53:5 we are told that:

 …He was wounded for our transgressions,

He was bruised for our iniquities;

The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,

And by His stripes we are healed.

He did all this for me, all this for you. Why? Because he loved and loves me.   Because he loved and loves you. Because he wanted to show us by his experience that we can make it… that there is nothing any person, or any demonic being can do, which can curtail, or permanently thwart the will, plan and purpose of God for our lives, if we refuse to give in to our flesh and we stand our ground.

So, going back to my earlier questions – can you let go and let God? You can, because God’s Word says you can. The pertinent question therefore is: will you? Will you let go of your terms and submit to His?

Proverbs 3:5 says:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,

And lean not on your own understanding.

In order to trust God, we need to have unwavering faith, or confidence in Him. He just loves it when we do. And when we do, we put ourselves into the right position to become green, flourishing and firmly-rooted trees. When we do, we put ourselves into the right position to lead fruitful lives. When we do, we can hold our heads erect and sing the high praises of God.

Dear reader, let us make up our minds to stand in God’s grace and mercy, stand in his protective power, stand in his unparalleled favour, to stand (and keep on standing) in his perfect will for our lives.  Yes – let us rejoice in the fact that despite what the Enemy has thrown at us and meant for our demise, we are indeed, still standing!

The Power of Perspective

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I used to see squirrels as cute creatures. Like other people, I enjoyed watching these tame animals scamper around park grounds, leap from bough to branch of a tree, or enjoy the adoration and hospitality of children. On occasion, I’d even feed them nuts or scraps from my picnic fare.

As far as I was concerned, squirrels were fully paid up members of an acceptable community of creatures (unlike flying ants, snakes or spiders). That was until I read that they came from the rodent family. All of a sudden, my perspective changed. I now saw these creatures as giant rats with bushy tails. In my heart and mind they were re-classified as vermin. And, when I became a gardening enthusiast, well that was it! I disliked them even more and promptly added them to my personal category of “mega-annoying animals”.

Just like that, my positive perspective of squirrels changed to a negative one. Knowledge contributed to that change.

Did you know that knowledge of God can alter your perception of any adverse situation you may be facing? Not head knowledge (mere mental assent) but heart knowledge, revelation knowledge.

God desires that we “know” Him (i.e. become intimately acquainted with him). John 17:3 reveals that eternal life is knowing the only true God and his Son, Jesus Christ, whilst Daniel 11:32b declares that those who know their God will be strong and carry out great exploits for Him. I like to think of some of those exploits as something prayer warriors accomplish – either conducting bold combative resistance against the Enemy of our souls, or presenting passionate petitions to our Father in the court room of Heaven.

Whatever difficulty we may be facing in our lives, or whatever circumstance we may be enduring, we need the strength of God to be able to overcome and emerge a victor.

If you are in a good place right now (experiencing no distressing worries), then wonderful! Great! Why not use your spiritual strength to encourage, pray for and support others? Is there a colleague, a neighbour, a friend or family member who is ill? In debt? Experiencing an insurmountable problem? Can you come alongside them and help? Will you show them the compassion and love of Jesus by supporting them with your prayers and intercession?

If you are already doing this – excellent! Continue the great work.

I faced a situation a little while back, where someone sought to unjustly penalise and discredit me. It undermined my peace. I called upon my best friend and her husband to stand with me in prayer. They also enlisted the help of their prayer group.

Fear and negativity had skewed my perspective regarding my circumstances. However, these godly friends were able to share scriptures with me, which changed that perspective. They could not have done this without their own knowledge of God, gained through their personal relationship with him. They could not have done this without a knowledge of his Word. And I could not have accepted the rhema* word God gave to me through them, I could not have been comforted and strengthened, if I had not previously acquired personal knowledge of his attributes, loving nature and character.

“The only thing you sometimes have control over is perspective. You don’t have control over your situation. But you have a choice about how you view it.” Chris Pine

Just suppose you were drowning and someone dived in to help you, someone whom you knew could not swim and had a fear of water, would you be confident that person could save you? Now substitute that individual with someone whom you know to be a champion swimmer and your perspective of the predicament you are in changes. Your confidence in his/her ability to help you, perhaps even save your life, increases.

Similarly, in times of trouble, your experiential knowledge of God, gained through intimate acquaintance with him will make all the difference as to whether you sink below your problems, wade/swim fearlessly through them, or should the occasion demand, allow Father God to rescue you. Furthermore, what you triumphantly overcome today, equips and enables you to help others tomorrow.

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God promises: When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you… (Isaiah 43:2a)

Dear reader, let me ask you something: how well do you know God? What steps are you taking to increase your knowledge of him?

 

* Rhema = a specific promise from the Word of God, brought to mind by the Holy Spirit