Monday, September 3, 2012

Can You Give Me a Hand Here? I'm Drowning!

Back many years ago when my husband was finishing up his undergrad degree at Hampton University, then, Hampton Institute in Hampton, Virginia, we would often go to the Naval Air Station at Dam Neck. This small naval installation located near Virginia Beach, Virginia had the most beautiful beach and we would slip away from the studies and take the kids and make a day of it.  I love the water, but never really learned to swim proficiently. Most of my experience was at the shallow end of the local public swimming pool, so my familiarity with the ocean was non existent.


I had just purchased this cute little black and white swimsuit with a jazzy red belt attached. It really didn't have straps, just two little holes on the sides, which when I slipped my arms into them... voila, it became a backless swimsuit. So cute! My idea of a fun day at the beach was to sit serenely in my cute little swimsuit and watch the antics of my kids and husband, and dole out the goodies. 

 My husband, this particular day was not content to let me be an observer, and coaxed me into the water. He promised we would not go further than knee deep and if I would just follow his instructions I would be just fine. He very carefully explained that when a wave comes in, just jump a bit and avoid the impact of the wave. Sounded easy enough, and we were only going to be knee deep. It should be simple enough, and, if by chance a wave should catch me off guard, I would only be in knee deep water, so I should have no problem regaining my footing. Right? And he was there to keep me from all harm!

Well, we started out into the water, wave... jump... See, no problem. Wave, jump, wave, jump higher! WAVE! The next thing I knew I was in and under the water, with waves coming at me like a baseball batting range. I was struggling for all I was worth to get up, but every time I tried to gain my footing another wave would knock me down. I was thrashing around like a beached fish, when I realized my husband was not helping me to stand up, he was trying to keep my cute little swimsuit on my body! Wave! Hey! Can you give me a hand here? I'm drowning! His concern for my nakedness should not have been the primary focus at that moment...keeping me from drowning was! I am sure it was a funny sight and I laughed with everyone else when it was finally over and we were safely on the beach. 

Even though the water was really less than knee deep, my inexperience with the ocean, the waves and how to flow with it left me vulnerable to drowning, even in, perhaps, ankle deep water. I just could not gain my footing before I was slammed again by another wave. Help! I truly have fallen and I can't get up!

  My husband and I were talking about this recently, and as He usually does, Father God used the incident as a teaching moment. I have been doing some volunteer work at one of the ministries that serve people who find themselves in challenging life situations. Some are homeless; some have addiction problems, and some may be escaping from abusive environments. The one thing I have learned in the six or so months I have been serving is that I don't know anything about the desparation of their conditions! My life experiences are so far removed from what some of these people are facing, I often find my perception skewed.

We can become overly focused on what is "proper"; more concerned with how something looks to others, rather than recognizing the the life threatening state a person may be in. My focus should be how I can be a source to finding true resolutions for the problem. A simplistic approach, as I might see it, may not be  adequate for the situation at hand. I was quick to share God's word, but sometimes we need to offer more than a scripture, with a promise to pray for the need. (James 2:14-18) Not to say that prayer is unnecessary, because it is essential, however, in addition to the spiritual, we need to be willing to supply the practical as well. This is not to say just throw some money at the problem...same as my husband trying to keep my swinsuit on me.


As in the situation with me in the ocean and my husband's response, each of us had a different perspective; I thought I was drowning and that I would die, while he could see that I was not drowning, but very close to being stripped naked before the eyes of everyone around. His actions were two fold; to protect my modesty, but also avoid embarrassment if his coworkers saw my nakedness. My response, given what I was experiencing, was I am dying here and he doesn't see it, nor is he doing what I thought was necessary to save me. If I had been able to calm down, I could have just stood up! I did not realize the power I had to save myself. I had to see that I could do something about my situation, but because of the onslaught of the waves and with no other perspective, I could not get myself out of the situation alone.

This illustration challenges me tremendously! It challenges me to see a broader picture, and to view it from more than one aspect. How can I help the person in crisis to see truth? What are my motives, what are my limitations, how can I be of assistance? All necessary to be able to provide a successful rescue.  How can I help that person see what I see?  What do I see? Am I seeing truth? My truth or thier truth? What a powerful analogy and what an amazing opportunity to be a co-laborer with Christ!
 
  I think it is important to be willing to be a part of the solution, if it is in your power to do so, or to assist in helping to find the one who is able to rescue.  According to James, this is faith.  He, James, said your actions are an indication of your faith. It is when we step out to be a part of the solution that God has an opportunity to be made manifest through us.  We are his workers here on earth and may be the only “Jesus” someone in need has ever seen. Each time we allow Him to walk into a persons life through our obedience, we leave God’s footprint in the earth.  

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Leviathan

I was visiting a church with a friend and heard a message from the man who would become my pastor. He preached a message on Leviathan, taken from Job 41. The whole chapter is about a formidable beast that is impervious to almost everything.  He talked about the improbability of taming Leviathan or making friends with it. 

It is impossible to pet it without losing a vital part of your anatomy; he also spoke about the scales, or shields that cover and protect this creature from attempts to kill it.  As this pastor drew a picture of this living armor-clad, natural annihilator, destructive as a tank, he then connected the subject of his message--pride.

Pride is a fierce, terrifying opponent built for battle and all but impossible to destroy.  It glides along, smoothly, under the surface like a crocodile. Dangerous, deadly and not at all willing to be denied. It's strength is legendary; it's fierceness is unequaled.  It lies deceptive,  just under the surface of the water and it is only when a prey, careless, steps too close to the crocodile 's lair that the realization of danger becomes apparent. Once in the jaws of Leviathan, it is all but impossible to escape it's grasp.  Death is almost always inevitable; if not death, vicious maiming is a result.

Pride is much like Leviathan. It is powerful, deadly and a formidable foe. It is deceptive to the one who is the victim and to the one who operates in pride.  Pride disguises itself with many different appearances.  It can mask itself in false humility, it can show up dressed as a martyr, or a multi-tasking answer to everyone else's needs. Often, the only way one might uncover pride as the root of a person's personality is to step on his/her 'pride-thing'. You know you have touched it when you hear that tell-tale 'click'!

This can be a dangerous, accidental discovery. Sort of  like Linda Blair in 'The Exorcist', just short of head spinning, and green vomit.  The sweet person who manifest some totally different person in reaction to a situation; or an angry outburst over what started out as a pleasant conversation.  The victim inadvertently stepped on the pride-thing when a certain topic is introduced. It isn't until Leviathan surfaces and they are in a death-roll, does the unsuspecting prey realize what is happening.

A great analogy of the way pride masquerades was illustrated to me with an incident that happened to my mom.  She has quite a few skin tags, most of which are totally harmless. She had one under her arm and it had become painful.  She was a bit concerned and asked me to take a look at it because it seemed to be getting larger.  I looked at her arm and saw this unusual looking skin tag. Taking a pair of tweezers, I tried to lift it to see if there was a break in the skin. When I touched it with the tweezers, legs stretched out and started moving.  It was an engorged tick!

We often don't recognize pride until we touch it or someone touches our pride-thing.  The only way we were able to safely remove the tick was to suffocate it, then we could remove it with the head in tact.  We put clear nail polish over the area the tick had attached itself to and allowed the polish to harden. We could then remove the insect, without the possibility of it growing again.

In life, the word of God, living in you makes a hostile environment for things like pride, anger, and envy, just to name a few. Let the word of God dwell in you richly. Then there will be no pride-thing! What ever is on the inside is what will come out when you are squeezed.  Be constantly being filled with the Holy Spirit of God.

Friday, March 9, 2012

The Voice Of Many Waters

One day as my husband and I were praying and asking the Lord to meet a specific need, I heard in my spirit, 'Speak the Word only'.  Then the Holy Spirit reminded me of Matt 8:8, when the Roman centurion told Jesus to 'speak the word only, and my servant will be healed.' He recognized Jesus' authority over time, distance and circumstances.  The Lord reminded me of the scriptures, Ezekiel 43:2b and Revelation 1:15b which tell us that the voice of God is as the sound of many waters, 

I had just recently viewed a video clip that described how water from the Great Lakes feeding into Niagara  created the Niagara Falls. The falls were formed when melting glaciers began to form the large freshwater lakes now known as the Great Lakes. The water in Lake Erie ran downhill toward Lake Ontario, forming a river. This river crosses a ridge known as the Niagara Escarpment. The area where this river falls over the cliffs of the Niagara Escarpment is known as Niagara Falls.

Next the Lord showed me Matt 8:23-27, the day Jesus with His disciples took to the boat and Jesus said,"'let's go to the other side.' The scripture says that Jesus was asleep in the bow of the boat when a tempest or hurricane arose on the sea so that the boat was covered with the waves.  The men were in disparate fear for their lives because of the violence of the storm.  They cried out to the Lord and shook Him awake.

He said, 'Why are you fearful, O ye of little faith?' He arose, rebuked the winds and the sea and there was a great calm .  The Holy Spirit said to me it was the Voice of many waters that caused the winds and sea to drop in reverence before Him and bow down.  The elements heard and recognized the Voice of many waters, the voice of the Holy Spirit speaking through Jesus. This is what made the men say, 'Who is this that even the winds and waves obey Him?

The essence of what the Lord was telling me is He has given us authority in His name. Luke 10:19.  He has given us instructions; He wants us to use what He has given us to subdue and take our enemies captive.  When we speak the Word of God, directed by the Holy Spirit, that same Voice will be heard by the enemy.  Every time you allow the Voice of many waters to speak through you amazing things will happen!  He is seated at the right hand of the Father, expecting until His enemies be made a foot stool.

What then shall we say to these things?  If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? Rom 8:31-32