Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Accuser

"But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not dare to bring a slanderous accusation against him, but said, 'The Lord rebuke you!'" Jude 9

It was a beautiful weekend filled with golden sunrises across the pond, walks in the autumn woods, sharing life with new friends and relishing the presence of God amongst us. Come Monday, I was exhausted but in a good way: when you know God used your passion to do His good work.

I was thankful to have an empty calendar to allow for rest and an easing back into routine. I slept a lot, ate a lot and took in way too much mindless chatter on T. V. Laziness crept over me and my guard was down. The Accuser noticed and took aim at my heart.

His first arrow whistled past me and struck my husband, abruptly interrupting our movie date. His attention was no longer on holding my hand but answering the barrage of business calls buzzing in his pocket. My Accuser shouted, "You're unimportant, unlovely. You can't even keep your husband's attention." Those words were like a pesky fly that wouldn't leave me alone no matter how many times I swatted them away. After a long night of fixing problems, my husband returned home to face those very words, twisted, personalized and spoken from my lips. I knew as soon as I heard them, my Accuser had started a battle but it took awhile for my head and my heart to stop it.

Seeing my weakness he flung a second arrow the next evening just before my husband was to take me out to dinner (to make up for the previous night). This time he aimed an arrow through an email at my creative abilities. He screamed, "You're fooling yourself. You don't have what it takes." I shut down my inbox and ignored his voice all through dinner until we returned home. It was as though I was alone, on stage with the spot light on me listening to the Accuser's barrage of insults from the audience.

Finally, needing to shut him up, I crawled up in my Daddy's lap and prayed, "Father, my heavenly Daddy...make him stop! He speaks lies. Hurls insults. Accuses. Rebuke him, Lord. Let me return to the place where your grace and peace abound. Speak truth, Lord. Speak truth to my heart." It was a restless night. A battle raged in my subconscious.

After breakfast, I sought for reassurance from my Father's Word and He lead me to the New Testament book of Jude verse 9. "But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses..." What a strange verse. Curious to know why Michael and Satan would argue over Moses, I did some research. According to Jewish tradition, even in death, Satan stood over Moses' body and accused him of being unworthy of burial because of his past sin (murdering the Egyptian, Exodus 2:11-12). Therefore, since Satan is lord of the earth, he demanded Moses' body. Michael, however, was quick to remind Satan that ALL of creation is God's, even the earth and he called on God to rebuke him.

These spiritual battles are real, even for us today. The Accuser crouches. His arrow ready. His bow at full draw, waiting for the right shot at our hearts. We must be on our guard, especially when we are most vulnerable (tired, worn, lazy). If we place our faith, our trust in God, He stands on our side. Never accusing. Always speaking truth. Always encouraging us for His good work.

Truth or lies. Which do you choose to believe? I choose truth

Friday, October 8, 2010

How Much Are You Worth?

"You are worth more than many sparrows." Matthew 10:31b

Hello You. Yes, you...the one that's folding piles of laundry, cooking breakfast, lunch and dinner, washing chocolate fingerprints off the newly painted walls, sitting in a cubicle, answering the phones, facing crabby customers, crawling on the freeway, feeling overwhelmed. Are you feeling important today? Do you feel like you matter to anyone right now? Well, you do.

There's so many people, so many responsibilities bidding for your attention that it's easy to feel overlooked, insignificant, unimportant, lonely. In all honesty, you need to know someone is thinking of you, noticing you, taking care of you, concerned for you. It's part of being human. But many nights, I'm sure you've tucked yourself into bed, turned out your own light and wondered, "Who cares for me?"

God does.

When I'm outside pushing my granddaughter on the swing, the moments between singing and swinging are interrupted with the chirps of noisy birds. "Listen," my granddaughter says, cupping her hand behind one ear. "It's a 'tweet-tweet'!" She's even learned the difference between their calls. "Squawk, squawk" is a blue jay. "Caw, caw" is a crow. "Chicka-dee-dee-dee" is, well obviously, a Chickadee, and "Cheep, cheep" is a sparrow.

It's funny, how spending time with little ones gets you to focus on things us adults would determine insignificant. Yet, those insignificant chirps make a most significant point. God supplies all these small, winged friends with everything they need every day. The bible says, if one small, insignificant sparrow falls, God notices.

Even so, how much more are you noticed? Yes, you...the one feeling unimportant, lonely, needy...YOU are noticed and important to God! God has given you a voice unlike any other. He has adorned you with a beauty that He wants you to share with the world. He notices all you do for everyone, every day. He wants you to know He's right there next to you. Listening. Waiting.

You. Yes, you...are worth more to God than many, many sparrows. You are treasured.

Monday, October 4, 2010

When God Gives Me the Ending

"My heart is stirred by a noble theme as I recite my verses for the king; my tongue is the pen of a skillful writer." Psalm 45:1

I held a nervousness inside much like butterflies before taking center stage. I checked and double-checked my list of things to pack: table, chair, books, posters, easel, stickers, book marks, props, change. Check! It was all there and packed inside my tired Subaru ready for one more local fair. But, the nervousness remained. I was facing the panel of my peers and my own hometown.

It's one thing for a complete stranger to thumb through my book and turn away unimpressed but I couldn't imagine if my own neighbors did that. How embarrassing! I'd have to live with that picture of disappointment every day. I couldn't even bear the thought. So, I breathed a prayer, "Lord, blow me away and silence these lies of inadequacy."

Well, blow me away, He did. As I faced my fears and beckoned friends and strangers alike to my booth, the book sales rocketed to record sales. The faces and giggles of the children and grown-ups were such a gift as they connected to the story and the wonderful illustrations (thanks to my talented nephew-in-law, Michael). I smiled until my cheeks hurt and chatted until my voice was hoarse.

It was a great day at the fair, Saturday but that nervousness still nagged at me. You see, with every visitor and every sale came the question: "When is your next book coming out?" As innocent as that question appears, it eats away at writers. It creates internal pressure. I've been asked that same question at every fair for six weeks straight. Every time I've answered, "I'm working on it."

Sunday morning, a lovely lady, we'll call A, and I were setting up our prospective booths again. We struck up a conversation and inevitably that question was asked of me again. She had a gentle spirit about her so I indulged her with my struggle. "I'm working on the next two books but I keep getting caught on the conflict. I can't resolve it so that it all makes sense." I shared with her how I spent eight hours staring at the computer on Friday, only to end up in frustration.

"Do you believe in ...?" A asked as her eyes pointed heavenward.

"Yes," I answered.

"Then give it up. Give it to Him (God) and He'll give you the endings. You're trying too hard."

She was absolutely right! I'd broken my own rule which is to never write unless I've spent time alone with God, first. I was trying to come up with everything on my own, in my own strength, in my own head, for my own purposes.

The sales were slow Sunday but God still blew me away. He met me through that conversation and I am changed.

So, you may ask, "When's your next book coming out?"

"When God gives me the ending!"