February 27

Ok, bear with me, this is a long one. I intended to wait a few days to post it, but after Walt’s sermon this morning, I want to go ahead and post it. I wrote this last night, and I find it amazing that God was putting very similar thoughts in my head as he was putting in Walt’s.

“I just don’t think I could be handling all this as well as Sara seems to be.”

That is a quote from a friend of mine who says she hears that from others. And her answer is perfect, “Yes you could! It’s because of God!”

One of you sent me a message that said, “Sometimes God sends his servants to the front lines.”

I want you to understand that that is what I feel. But what I believe is that God has sent me to the front lines to see that the battle is HIS! And for some reason He seems to want me to be a wartime reporter. I feel compelled to send you messages from within the battle.

And the main message I think I’m supposed to send is “FEAR NOT!”

It feels like I’m a reporter who’s gotten to the battle only to see that there really is no battle. The battle has already been won! And it’s so exciting I can barely contain myself!

Oh, my friends, God is so much stronger than any little dart the dark forces may send our way.

This armor that God’s given us, it holds up in the battles we face! It holds up!

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.” (Eph 6:10-16, emphasis mine)

God has spoken it in His word; therefore it is truth. It IS possible to stand! Wecan extinguish the devil’s flaming arrows! So why is it so surprising that I (well, it’s God, but what we see is me) am doing it? Why am I surprised that God is protecting me, protecting my heart, has enabled me to hold my ground?

My story – stillborn daughter born on my wedding anniversary, accidental discovery of advanced cancer, difficult treatments – I think that qualifies as a pretty major assault from the devil.  But somehow, someway, I have not fallen under the weight of such great tragedy.  By His great mercy and power, God has given me more joy than pain, has given me peace that is beyond understanding, and has even answered lifelong prayers that I’ve prayed, lifelong dreams that I’ve had – prayers for a sense of purpose, prayers to help me feel loved, dreams to write words that touch hearts. I’m in the middle of something that should cause me nothing but heartache, and somehow God has given me joy! I’m not making this up. I’m not just saying what I think I’m supposed to say. This is what I feel in my heart! I’m not trying to be strong for you, God has given me strength forme, and is allowing you all to be touched by it too!

And so I say again, “Fear not!”

(One of you recently brought it to my attention that that was Jesus’s most preached commandment.)

“Refiner’s Fire – my heart’s one desire: Is to be HOLY. Set apart for you, Lord.” Do you sing that song? Do you mean it? I don’t think I used to understand it at all. The fire from the refiner – that’s not a pleasant thing. But shouldn’t we be joyful when it comes? In the middle of our difficulties, our challenges, the times when we don’t understand why we are being tested – we can be joyful that God is refining us, making us HOLY. For that we should be THANKFUL. Because it is our heart’s ONE DESIRE.

Do you know the story of Elisha and his servant? When they were surrounded, and from a human perspective there was NO WAY OUT? NO POSSIBLE DELIVERENCE?

“When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. “Oh no, my lord! What shall we do?” the servant asked. “Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” And Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, LORD, so that he may see.” Then the LORD opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. (II Kings 6, emphasis mine)

Sara here, reporting from the front lines, and I can almost see them. I can definitely feel them. We have prayed, and the army of God surrounds me. God’s power is with me! It is stronger than death, than cancer, than these seemingly insurmountable odds. I don’t have to fear!

Is God’s power here because there is something special about me? Well, yes.

But it’s the same thing that’s special about you – GOD LOVES YOU! JESUS DIED FOR YOU! HIS SPIRIT LIVES IN US! The battle has been won!

The only battle we must wage is the battle of the mind, the battle of the eyes.

And those are posts for another day.

Now, I apologize for yelling at you with my all caps and bolded text and exclamation points. But quit thinking I’m weird or amazing or extra strong or anything different than you are or could be. In fact, I know many of you have already experienced all of what I’ve written. You’ve been in the refiner’s fire and you’ve been delivered and lived to tell the tale. And that is what is awesome about worship. We all get together and tell God how thankful we are that He’s WON! That He gives us His strength and His grace when we don’t deserve it but when we need it most!

So now, the words to a beautiful song that brought me to tears in the car on our ride home (I wish you could hear the music too, it would be so much more powerful.)

“My foes are many, they rise against me.

But I will hold my ground.

I will not fear the war, I will not fear the storm.

My help is on the way.

Oh my God, He will not delay!

My refuge and strength ALWAYS.

I will not fear, His promise is true.

My God will come through ALWAYS!

Trouble surrounds me, chaos abounding.

My soul will rest in you.

I will not fear the war, I will not fear the storm.

My help is on the way.

I lift my eyes up, my help comes from the Lord!

I lift my eyes up, my help comes from the Lord!”

Holy Father, open all of our eyes – to see as Elisha’s servant saw. Help us to put on and then to trust in Your armor. Help us to be thankful for periods of refinement, when we see that armor hold up, when we see your power and your peace prevail.

My friends, my help is on the way, I know it! My God will not delay.

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