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“Let’s take a walk….

…just you and me.  Where shall we go?  What shall we see?”

I don’t remember the title or the author, but that was the beginning of a children’s book that we read over and over and over to my little brother many years ago.  My older sister had gotten him the book and may very well remember more of the rhyme and the story.  That small part is all that stuck in my brain, and it rose in my memory today as I took a walk around the beautiful retreat grounds.  Paths winding through the old homes, quaint benches in lovely settings under the trees, a wonderful place to walk quietly alone, just me and God.  Where will He take me?  What will He show me?

My mind reviewed the sessions we had yesterday and today, and I am satisfied.  My grammar wasn’t perfect and my enunciation went awry a few times, but I said what He gave me to say.  I feel that emptiness that comes after pouring out the results of weeks of prayer and preparations, but it’s a good emptiness.  I hear Him say “Well done.”  I know it’s not about me, it’s about Him and His working through me.  But I am happy because He can only do what He wants to do in me and through me when I cooperate, and I did.

We long to feel happy and satisfied at the end of our efforts.  The beautiful part of a “retreat” is to pull away from the struggles of life and regroup.  We hope to learn something useful so that when we return we will make headway in the fight.  The bible very plainly says there is spiritual warfare taking place and we are somehow involved in it.  But too often we find ourselves focused only on the battles. We’ve studied and are determined to be strong and fight the enemy!  We take our “sword of the Spirit which is the word of God”  and picture ourselves as if we are wielding Excalibur, driving the demons away with our loud proclamations of scripture. Please understand, I DO believe that we are to use the word of God in every situation.  But in studying Ephesians 6, I discovered that the word translated sword in our English bibles was actually a Greek word that meant dagger or knife, probing our conscience and subduing the impulses to sin.  And while we are instructed to “take” this dagger, it is being wielded – used effectively – by the Spirit on US, not the enemy!!

We were never called to fight the enemy.  We were called to stand.  We were instructed to put on the armor and lift the shield of faith over all.  ALL.  This shield is not like the one Captain America carries.  One of the reasons we get so tired in our faith is because we see it as a small shield that we must constantly be moving to deflect the ammo coming our way.  The shield Paul described was a thick, heavy shield that was large enough for a grown man, fully clothed in armor, to stand behind and be hidden. Even if we see our faith shield in this way, how often are we sticking our necks out, peeking around the shield to see if God’s taking care of things rather than standing firm, assured that God will come through on His many promises to FIGHT FOR US?

Maybe this isn’t a season of battle for you.  Maybe you are like me and don’t sense much happening on the other side of the shield right now.  We peek around “God are you there???  Isn’t it time to get going??”  We tap our fingers in impatience, anxious to be moving forward.  On my walk today, He assured me He is busy with my steps (Psalm 37:23).  And He reminded me that patience has a work to do.  Patience is working to perfect and develop me so that I will lack nothing.  (James 1)  So I am planting my feet firmly in my faith that He is at work.  I will be patient.  I will stay in faith.

Where will He take us next?  I don’t know.  I just know it will be good.  What will He show us next?  Again, I don’t know.  I just know it will be good and useful and satisfying.  And worth the wait.

Armor of God, Bible, Christian, church, Encouragement, Faith, friends, God, Jesus, love, new creation, praise, prayer, retreat, righteousness, Spiritual, Uncategorized, worship

Retreat

The past couple of weeks have been extremely busy and highly productive which makes the fact that I write this from a lovely garden cottage, removed from the familiar routines for a few days, all the more delicious.  Ahhhhh……  Funny how it takes concentrated effort to make myself relax.  I love that this particular schedule includes hours of time to be still and enjoy the surroundings and I am determined to do so.  Just earlier as I had time alone before dinner, I found myself automatically thinking of all the things I would be doing when I return home.  Really???  Stop!  Be here.  Now.  It will all still be there when I get back.

I was thinking about the word “retreat”.  Defined in a military sense most often, it brings to mind images of soldiers turning back, running away from the battle lost, hoping to survive, regroup, and come up with a better strategy to defeat the enemy.  The definition in a Christian context is a reflective time for prayer and meditation with the goal of reconnecting with God at a deeper level.  I find both definitions applicable for me today.

I have a wonderful business where I get to take things of sentimental value and turn them into keepsake items.  It is very rewarding work which fulfills much more than my creative desires.  It blesses those who receive the pieces which is an even greater reward.  Long hours at the sewing machine day after day, however, can make my back muscles so tight that it actually hurts to relax.  Several nights lately I’ve lain in the bed for a long time before sleep could come, just waiting for the muscles to give in to the comfort of my pillowtop bed.  The work was complete, but my body wasn’t willing to release the tension.

While my everyday life isn’t outwardly filled with conflict or difficulties but is actually rather simple and easy at this time, I find that I am still struggling within.  I’m not relaxing.  As I prepared the message I will bring to the ladies over the next couple of days, God gently began to uncover the roots of some of my tension.  My mind made the excuses as to why those things are still there, why I had been unwilling to release them.  This did not deter Him.  It is time.

It is time to pull back, having every hope of survival, regroup and find a better strategy to defeat the enemy.  Time to look deeper into the work He has finished. Who knew when the leaders selected the theme for this year’s retreat that it would speak to my heart: Keep Calm and Armor On!

Perhaps you need to retreat.  You may not have the opportunity to get away to a secluded location, but He is waiting right where you are.  Take some time to reflect.  Pray.  Meditate.  Reconnect.  Walk with me over the next few days and let God uncover the source of the struggles.  We’ll find a new strategy and face the enemy with renewed confidence.

Relax.