Swinging the Sword

Photo by Susanne Jutzeler, suju-foto on Pexels.com

The story is familiar. On the night Judas betrayed Jesus, an armed crowd came at night to arrest him. To protect his master, Peter “reached for his sword, drew it out and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear” (Matthew 26: 26:51). The loyal disciple attempted to save Jesus with violence. Today’s Christians are familiar with Jesus’ out-of-the-ordinary response to Peter’s sword swinging: “’Put your sword back in its place…for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels?’” (Matthew26:52-53).

I don’t have a sword, but if I did, I could neither swing it in a controlled manner, nor use it effectively to defend or attack someone. Still, there is a message for me in these verses. How often do I take up the sword of independence, swinging away, trying to solve all my dilemmas? “I can do it. I can save you. I can handle this situation.” Acting on my own, I hack and hew with my sword, wearing myself out, and worsening the situation.

Did Jesus, creator of heaven and earth, need followers to protect Him? No, for He could call on God’s army of angels to obey His every command. Why do I not understand His willingness to protect me? Peter didn’t understand either. I have scriptures and the Holy Spirit to help me and still do not understand; there is no need to swing my sword. Almighty God, commander-in-chief of all the angels, is in control. I must rest behind His shield of power and love.

Oh God, help me lay down my sword and yield my “strength. “Only then can I win my spiritual war.

Isaiah 58:11a “The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame.”

Spiritual Wrestling

Spiritual Wrestling

The once gray skies have cleared, and the dome above me is bright blue. I look away from the mirror-like lake, up at the trees. The thin white branches dotted with their remaining yellow leaves highlight the brightness of the blue autumn sky: a 65 degree treat on a fall day. Lying on my back, I watch as high, thin clouds move rapidly across my line of vision. The blue sky is marbled with white, the clouds showing evidence of upper atmospheric turbulence and wind. White terns soar high overhead, gliding effortlessly on the wind. I hear a nearby splash—of fish? —I hear but never see them. I wonder what life lies beneath the glassy surface. The ducks have already flown to warmer climates, but the occasional splash and the ever-widening ripples tell me that life teems just below the surface.

Isn’t this the way of the spiritual world?  We see just a ripple, hear an occasional splash to remind us, but we are typically oblivious to the spiritual life all around us. We are oblivious to the spiritual battles being fought for us, oblivious to the spiritual turmoil within the lives of people all around us.

In Ephesians 6:11-12 (NKJ) we are warned to “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”  A similar warning can be found in I Peter 5:8: “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”  Just as there is unseen life beneath the surface of the lake, so there is unseen spiritual life. Just because we cannot see Satan or the other “spiritual hosts of wickedness” does not mean that they do not exist. Just because we cannot see them does not mean they are not actively working to win our souls or the souls of our loved ones. We “wrestle” against these unseen enemies Satan and his followers have declared war!

The battle rages, yet we often sit complacently on the sidelines, blissfully ignorant that our souls are threatened. Do we approach our lives as if we are preparing for battle?  If not, then we may be overcome

by the enemy.

Almighty God, open my eyes to the spiritual battles raging around me. Assist me as I don Your armor. Give me strength to fight this war that I might win glory for you.

I John 4:1 “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.”

Friday Friends’ Favorites

Psalm71: 19-21

“Your righteousness, God, reaches to the heavens, you who have done great things. Who is like you, God? Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter, you will restore my life again; from the depths of the earth you will again bring me up. You will increase my honor and comfort me once more.”

Walking the Nature Trails

Walking the Nature Trails

The path opens to a clearing larger than a football field.  Waist high brome grasses sway slightly in a gentle waltz with the faint breeze.  Nearby branches merely watch, too heavily laden with yellow-green hedge apples to dance.  On the far side of the field lies a painter’s palette of trees just beginning to show their colors—green, yellow, orange, brown, and rust, accented by splashes of bright red sumac and dark tree trunks.  Wildflowers once covered this field.  Three and four-foot high dried stalks now fill the meadow, their seed heads white and full, ready to release millions of umbrella ribs to flower another field.

I risk a quick crossing of the muddy path to stand on the bridge and watch the swollen stream.  My right foot sinks three inches into the soft black ooze, but I make it safely across.  The recent rain has forced the creek out of its bed.  Noisily it rushes through unfamiliar territory, over its former banks and around tree trunks, its strength rippling the mud-brown water, carrying foamy bubbles downstream.  The rushing water rocks the dying trees, tipping them on their sides from the water’s force, but their roots hold firm against its assault.  One tree reaches toward the flood, its green and yellow leaves bending toward the water like a girl bending over to wash her hair. 

The rushing water lulls me into to a peaceful reverie.  The surface ripples, like a cat flexing the muscles on its back. Every day responsibilities beckon me home. Reluctantly, I amble across the bridge, promising myself to return soon.

  The peace, beauty, and serenity of God’s handiwork are just outside my front door to enjoy whenever I choose.  How seldom I choose!  It is the same way with God’s peace, love, wisdom, and power.  It is there for me, whenever I choose to enjoy it.  All I have to do is walk the path.   

Lord, forgive me for those many times that my nearsighted eyes fail to see your grandeur.  Open my eyes to behold your glory.

Amos 5:4b “Seek me and live.”