I am so thankful for the Word. It is life and light to me. It is refreshment and sweet encouragement on days when my life feels and looks like the lush, well watered, flowering plants in this picture I snapped at the end of October...Green, blooming and growing. The pink begonia's pictured started as small hand-held plants that the teens and I joyfully brought home as door prizes from a mother-daughter luncheon. They grew quickly and filled out the planter. The lemon tree in the back right hand corner was covered with fragrant blooms. It was a gift to the Salesman who enjoys fresh lemon juice in his water. What delight it has been to see the Salesman walk to the tree to pick and enjoy the fruit. The strawberry pot holds the cutest little hens and chicks, even though they are hard to see in this picture. The white petunias grew in waves out of the planter in the forefront throughout the season. Most days, I picture my own life like these well watered plants.
Life is a cycle of seasons. And in my spiritual life, I see seasons too. Will I be able to repeat the chorus from above that I am so thankful for the Word when my life feels like the current picture of the lemon tree... Brown, hardly a leaf on the tree, no signs of fruit. Praise comes easy for me when my life gives fragrant blooms and edible fruit. It is easy to praise when everyone is happy and healthy, everything is going my way and is as pretty as a picture. But what about the days when I'm walking on the crunchy dead leaves that scatter the path I'm on? Will I yet praise Thee? Not every day is a delightful sugar coated doughnut, as much as it may be my desire. There are days when I see no fruit, no blooms, no leaves. The soil feels dry. I read the headlines and have concerns about the economy. I live in a real live family where it seems that my most used phrase is "I am so sorry". I hear disappointing news. I get discouraged. I get upset. I see things that just outright ruffle my tail feathers. I experience pain. I feel week, frail and vulnerable and heartbroken. I have days that the second picture of the lemon tree describe my life: dry, hardly a leaf of self control on the tree, my fruit is way past ripe.
When I realize I'm walking on disappointments and hurts and am looking at a leafless, lifeless day, I have a decision to make. Do I wallow in the very real that I see and experience or do I yet praise Him? I believe that Ephesians 6:12 is true: "For our (Lora's) 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." My struggle is not with the people that ruffle my tail feathers. I either believe the Word, or I don't. There are days when I repeat this verse over and over in my heart and mind.
So once I've established that my struggle is not with a person, the Word continues to encourage. When it's looking pretty bleak, I want to trace over the words of Habakkuk 3:17 and sign my name to them. "Though the fig tree should not blossom and there be no fruit on the vines, though the yield of the olive should fail and the fields produce no food, though the flock should be cut off from the fold and there be no cattle in the stalls:" Then my signature, Sincerely Yours, Lora. But I'm so encouraged that there is not a period at the end of this lament. His Word does not stop at verse 17 where Habakkuk is assessing a situation even bleaker than my lemon tree days. Here at the colon, I am faced with another decision - will I dwell on the reality of life? Or will I make the decision to do verse 18: "yet I will exult in the LORD, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation." That is powerful to me - Habakkuk chooses praise and continues with verse 19, his source: "The Lord GOD is my strength, and He has made my feet like hinds' feet, and makes me walk on my high places. For the choir director, on my stringed instruments."
The Lord brings encouragement from last weeks memory verse about who my power is: "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth." Acts 1:8
His Word has every prescription I ever need. This next passage, continues to encourage my heart:
"But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death works in us, but life in you. But having the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, "I BELIEVED, THEREFORE I SPOKE," we also believe, therefore we also speak, knowing that He who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and will present us with you. For all things are for your sakes, so that the grace which is spreading to more and more people may cause the giving of thanks to abound to the glory of God. Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal." 2 Corinthians 4:7-18
I want all my days to look like the lush, blooming plants. And when they don't, I want quick fixes. I want to order what I want at the menu board and just drive a few feet and pick it up.
But Lord, ordering and eating my way would leave me spiritually gaunt
Oh the demons just love to linger and and with their lies taunt
Saying they'll give me just what I want
They lie, they always do
The Deceiver is not up to any thing new
The Word is Truth and it's where I must choose to live
And not one inch to the Enemy recede or give
I choose to believe the Word
I choose to believe the Word
I will repeat the Truth until I believe
And the Enemy leaves and his lies no longer deceive
I am a living, breathing child of God
You're Word is my Sword, let my feet be properly shod
I'm doing battle, Lord, with Your Word
And the Enemy backs down as Your Truth is heard
As I choose to believe
Your peace I will gladly receive
My real enemies are not any mortal man
But the Enemy has deadly and destructive plans
I will rejoice, Lord, when my tree looks barren
Your Word through the deceitful lies is tearing
There is so much more to our battles that what we see
You ask me to believe and totally trust in Thee
Let Your joy and Truth on my lips be a song of praise
You are in control, You rule, O Ancient of Days. Amen.