Saturday, March 31, 2012

Not Just Any Port in a Storm

An afternoon storm caught me out with my camera today. Wind, then rain, thunder and finally hail chased me toward shelter.

And I found it in the prayer house.

Darkening skies

A church where we're visiting right now has built a small, beautiful prayer house. It’s mostly glass and it’s up on a hill. That’s where I ran when the hail started. I could still hear the storm out there. I could see it all around me. But in there…it was…still. The storm made itself known, but it couldn’t touch me in there.

“But let all those who take refuge and put their trust in You rejoice; let them ever sing and shout for joy, because You make a covering over them and defend them; let those also who love Your name be joyful in You and be in high spirits.”
(Psalm 5:11, Amplified Bible)

First raindrops

Outside the glass walls I could see hawks soaring in the distance, riding the currents on the edge of the storm. Trees waved wildly. Rain fell in sheets.

Inside, there was a fountain quietly murmuring. Storm-sounds drowned it out from time to time, but it was still there, bubbling up and over. I could see it. I could feel the occasional stray drop splash on my skin. It was closer than the storm that was all around me.

That’s what it’s like to find your shelter in God. You most likely can still see the storm, and it may rage so loudly that it is all you can hear for a moment. But if you find your shelter in Him, no storm can really touch you.

“You are a strong tower, where I am safe from my enemies. Let me live with you forever and find protection under your wings, my God.”
(Psalm 61:3-4, Contemporary English Version)

There were others in the prayer house today, too. They found their way there before or during the same storm. We smiled silently at each other, This is a great place to be during a storm.

It's not just any port in a storm - it matters which one you run to.

Rain on window

You who sit down in the High God's presence, spend the night in Shaddai's shadow,
Say this: "God, you're my refuge. I trust in you and I'm safe!"…

…"If you'll hold on to me for dear life," says God,
"I'll get you out of any trouble.
I'll give you the best of care if you'll only get to know and trust me.
Call me and I'll answer, be at your side in bad times;
I'll rescue you, then throw you a party.
I'll give you a long life, give you a long drink of salvation!"
(The opening and closing verses excerpted from Psalm 91, The Message)

Ambushed by God and given refuge in any storm,

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Slaying Dragons

Oh, the things a mama can learn from a six-year-old boy!

My son asked his dad to draw him a picture the other day. The conversation went like this:

Boy: Dad, would you draw a picture and send it to me? (Dad was away for work.)
Dad: I’ll draw one of you. How about that?
Boy: (Getting excited now) Draw a picture of me and make me a knight! And put a castle behind me and a dragon in front of me. AND GIVE ME A SWORD! And give me some armor!

It reminds me of another Father…

From the sixth chapter of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians (quoted from The Message, emphasis mine):

“God is strong, and he wants you strong. 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. This is no afternoon athletic contest that we'll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels.

Be prepared. You're up against far more than you can handle on your own. 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. You'll need them throughout your life. God's Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare…”

If you grew up in church, you’re more likely to recognize it in this form:

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand firm therefore, HAVING GIRDED YOUR LOINS WITH TRUTH, and HAVING PUT ON THE BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, and having shod YOUR FEET WITH THE PREPARATION OF THE GOSPEL OF PEACE; in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to 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. With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit…” (Ephesians 6:10-18a, NASB)

There is a reason little boys pretend to be knights, soldiers and firefighters. (And it’s not just little boys. As a little girl, I was enthralled with King Arthur’s Knights of the Round Table.) We’re meant to battle evil…and win. It’s important that we don’t forget that last part. God has never set us up for failure. We’re made in His image, after all, and He wins.

Many years ago, I visited Corrie ten Boom’s house in Haarlem, Holland, where the Ten Boom family hid Jews from the Nazis during World War II. I remember there was a small plaque there that said, “Jezus, de Overwinnaar” . Translate the Dutch to English and it says “Jesus, the Overwinner” or “Jesus, the Victor”.

Jesus wins.
Jesus already won.

That same six-year-old has been singing one line from a song over and over lately: "Jesus won back all that Adam had lost..."*

And because Jesus won, we get to win. We have been given the armor, the sword, the shield, the horse bred for battle, the castle. The dragon is as good as slain, but we still get the honor of getting in on the battle.

My son has been captivated lately by the idea of “good guys” and “bad guys”. I told him recently to choose his side carefully – that God never loses, so if you don’t want to be on the losing side…well…just sayin’…

He considered that and then went on to line up his knights, their horses, some unmanned horses borrowed from a game, his little brother’s sealife figurines, and a zebra (everyone gets a chance to be a hero!) – all to fight and slay the big, red, fire-breathing dragon (who was already doomed to lose).

Yes, my son, I thought, you are getting ready to slay some dragons.

(And so is your mom. Now…where’s that sword of mine?)

Ambushed by The Overwinner,

*lyrics from a CD of children singing, titled "Greater Things", available on

Oh, there it is! My sword!
A friend read this post and sent me this (she drew it...I love it). Thank you, Rebecca!

For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12, KJV)

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Shh…Listen (Spring has something to say.)

For more than just a few reasons, I’ve been at a loss for words lately – and it’s been to my gain.
We’ve been traveling, and there are new sounds. It has rained hard where we are – not like the drizzle my kids are used to. My two-year-old said to me the other night, “Shh…listen.” So I did. And so I am.

I am sitting silent and Creation all around me is going wild with springtime joy. The crickets and frogs are doing their best to outshout each other in praise of their Maker at this very moment (and of course, to entice that mate…but since He’s the One who told them to do that, it’s still an act of worship). My children are breathing sleep’s deep rhythms just a few feet away. The heater kicks on at intervals with a homey sound to drown out the happy clamour for a few moments, and then the night songs return.

It's good to listen.

When I listen to Creation, I hear joy – the joy of being made, born, hatched, sprouted, alive, existing, thought-up-by-the-Living-God. Creation may be waiting and longing for all that Jesus did to be revealed in us (Romans 8:22), but Creation is certainly not depressed. It’s not a muted, weak, watered-down, sepia-toned, half-alive existence we’ve been given on this planet. No, that’s not what Jesus died for. It’s the real deal He offers us and it starts now. If you don’t already know that, just listen:

The frogs will croak it.
The bees will buzz it to you.
The robins will dance it out on a just-cut lawn.
The salmon will splash upstream with the knowledge of it.
The whales will sing and breach, the leaves will rustle, the rivers will rush, the dew will drip-drip, the rain will drum, the pebbles will clack, the ice will crack and those crickets will scratch it out on their violin-legs all night long.

Wherever you are, there is something speaking with joy of the expectation that life holds because of Jesus. That is what the Christ offers to me. To you.

This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It's adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike "What's next, Papa?" God's Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children. And we know we are going to get what's coming to us—an unbelievable inheritance! We go through exactly what Christ goes through. If we go through the hard times with him, then we're certainly going to go through the good times with him!

That's why I don't think there's any comparison between the present hard times and the coming good times. The created world itself can hardly wait for what's coming next. Everything in creation is being more or less held back. God reins it in until both creation and all the creatures are ready and can be released at the same moment into the glorious times ahead. Meanwhile, the joyful anticipation deepens.

All around us we observe a pregnant creation. The difficult times of pain throughout the world are simply birth pangs. But it's not only around us; it's within us. The Spirit of God is arousing us within. We're also feeling the birth pangs. These sterile and barren bodies of ours are yearning for full deliverance. That is why waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting. We, of course, don't see what is enlarging us. But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy.

(Romans 8:15-25, The Message)

Ambushed by God in the Night Songs of Spring,