Allish

THE RIGHT TO REST

THE RIGHT TO REST

“In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war, David sent Joab out with the king’s men and the whole Israelite army.”    2 Samuel 11:1

Spring was a good time to go to war because the roads were dry, making travel easier for troop movement. David had just successfully defeated the Ammonites. But immediately following victory, David abandoned his purpose, passed off his responsibility, and stayed home to soak in the victory instead of being alongside his army in battle.

I’m sure David was simply enjoying the many luxuries of being king.  It seems as though he began to build security on his own strength. Forgetting that it was the Lord who enabled him to win in the first place. Instead of being forward thinking, He began to rely on his previous victory. His priorities were out of line, and he failed to face the next task at hand. While most of us think of David as a man with a worshiper’s heart and a warrior’s will; this story portrays him as someone entirely different.

Distraction comes easily if you aren’t focused on your purpose. And distraction precedes failure. I remember the first (and hopefully the last) time I played dodge ball. Six fellow peers of mine dragged me onto their team after realizing that they had to have at least one girl on their team in order to play. I told them I wasn’t too grand at sports, but they were convinced otherwise- and wow were they ever wrong.

I was a miserably pathetic throw and exhibited incredibly poor hand-eye coordination skills to boot. But, for a split second, I experienced my fair share of glory. Three or so minutes into the game, (The anxiety made it feel more like 40) one of the styrofoam balls was launched up in the air, luckily high enough so I could catch it. I caught it, everyone cheered, and my opponent was out. But, I was so overcome with the pride of my new found victory, that I failed to notice the second ball. Lethally headed in my direction. Being entirely distracted made me an easy target. And that was the end of my dodgeball career; just as soon as I had tasted victory; I was out.

I’ve since learned that looking back to soak on your victory too often will only distract you from the next challenge at hand. I don’t know of a time in the Bible where Jesus used his energy recalling all that He had done. He was always forward thinking. Looking for the next person to touch, heal, or save. He had bigger fish to fry than to use his valuable time thinking, praying, or addressing the past. He was always in the Spirit, always in warfare, always on call, accessible, and ready.

“One evening, David got up from his bed and walked around the roof…and saw a woman bathing. David sent someone out to find her…she came to him and he slept with her.” 2 Samuel 11:2-4

Like me, in light of victory, David had let his guard down. I’m sure he did indeed deserve some R&R. After all, he’d served diligently, patiently, and  faithfully all those years. He’d single-handedly killed the giant, destroyed opposing armies, and remained in communion with God. So, hadn’t he earned it?

We mustn’t depend on our past victories to pull us through tomorrow’s challenges, we still have to face them. Every war has a price.  Anytime you lose sight of your mission, you can rest assured that distraction is lying on the next rooftop.  Opportunity is always knocking, and if you don’t have a worthwhile cause to obtain your focus, your own desires will overcome your purpose.

You see, this snowball effect began as a decision; to fight, or not to fight. Never underestimate what hiding from your battles will cost. No matter how great the recent victory is, we should never feel entitled to lay aside our weapons. A friend of mine put it this way “As Christians, we shouldn’t ever feel as though we have the right to rest spiritually.” We can’t let up, give in, or back down. There’s a task that has been assigned to us. The moment we lose sight of it, we will fall, and eventually distraction will destroy us.

If you feel as though you’ve lost sight of your purpose, don’t worry! David blew it- royally at that. Yet, he turned his life around and we still speak of him today. God will honor a man who returns. It’s never too late to come back.

So, let’s face tomorrow. Let’s kick the crud out of our lives. Let’s become so overwhelmingly consumed with the God who loves us, and the task at hand, that distraction has no place in our lives. Contend; it’s what we’re born to do.

“The kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force.” Matthew 11:12

LITTLE MISS KNOW IT ALL

LITTLE MISS KNOW IT ALL

Driving on Costa Rica’s narrow roads. Like sardines, packed in a fifteen-seat tour bus. With my best friend, mother, aunt, four cousins, Abuelita, and six siblings. We were beach-bound. For the duration of this two hour journey, there was an unmistakable, echoing chorus of “Are we there yet?”.

I’ve often heard myself chiming in, asking my seemingly “slow-moving” life the same question. As if knowing how much more there is to go will make the delay go by faster. I’ll openly admit that patience hasn’t ever really been my forte. Those who know me well can attest to this.  Somehow, I always manage to think up a million other ways I’d rather spend my time. I believe this is called impatience. Yes, for me, waiting without discontentment is typically a fight.

Anxious to reach the next level. Always anticipating a new season. As if I’m always in between seasons. Not really living here, yet not quite there either. So obsessed with God’s ultimate plan for life that I forget about His plan for today. Overlooking the daily mundane things that could be viewed as potential opportunities to live for Him while showing His glory, power, and love. I ignorantly turn what should be adventure into routine. I mistakenly look at today as the obstacle keeping me from tomorrow.

Sometimes, I catch myself pretending I’ve arrived. Daydreaming; not embracing today for what it is and everything it has to offer. It seems that the more I think I know about the future, the more I want it to happen today. Whether its practical, needed, or simply wishful thinking. I’m sure everyone has a different dream. It could be as simple as the weekend, or as complex as your wedding day. But God doesn’t give us a fast-lane. He desires for us to embrace the journey. Anyone can be passionate about a dream to be obtained, or excited about earning the prize. The getting there, is a different story. This is more difficult.

My vision of the goal at times will complicate the necessary journey in order to obtain it. My impatience trips me up. We all love payday. It’s the actual work leading up to it that seems the be the problem. Through my failed attempts to speed up the process in a frantic search for a magic fast forward button; I’ve learned there is no way to get around the necessity of patience. I’ve learned that understanding what God is doing where you are is more important than telling God what you want to do for Him.

He is patient. I believe Jesus exemplified patience while He was here on earth. Being the son of God, he could have simply snapped his fingers, appeared as a grown man, done his duty and ascended. But even He took the time to grow up. His whole life leading up to the very act that would change the whole world. He didn’t cut any corners. He enjoyed every day, living life to its fullest. He understood the importance of one day, one hour, one minute, one moment. He didn’t hit the fast forward button. Basically, thank God I’m not Him, because I couldn’t have done it.

I suppose that is why patience is a fruit of the spirit.  Because there is no way on earth patience is a fruit of the flesh. I don’t find any part of me screaming “yay, I get to wait!” At least not without sarcasm. I need help in order to be patient. I can’t do it alone. Thank God He has made provision. In Him, He empowers me to be still and know that He is at work in my life. In every moment, He is there. He doesn’t desire for me to simply get through my life. Making lists and checking them off; living from one exciting event to the next.

Despite my pretending I do; He doesn’t let me know it all. He wants life to be an adventure, full of unanticipated surprises.   Who wants a predictable life anyway? So don’t skip out on today, live it out.

VISIONLESS TRAILS

Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the Lord, and depart from evil. Proverbs 3:5-7

I’m learning to trust. Wholeheartedly. Even when it doesn’t make sense. Recently, I’ve found myself smack dab in the middle of transformation. Growing inwardly, yet not necessarily moving forward or backwards. Just different. I’m simply changing. God is removing old habits and creating new ones. He’s altering my thought patterns and challenging my routines. He’s destroying fear and anxiety and exchanging them with peace. It’s refreshingly fresh. Yes, it’s new, but it’s only just begun.

I’m living with my family for the summer, but I’m fairly familiar with the area. Last week, I opted out of going to the gym and decided to run through the neighborhood for a little more scenery than the typical treadmill. In order to get a good run in, I usually run as far and fast as I can. This way, I have no choice but to finish the distance back. Headphones in, with Cory Asbury and Rick Peno blasting, I started my day right. About forty-five minutes in, I realized I had lost track of time and ended up a few miles from my house. I was running full force in a random direction when out of no where, it started to rain. This wasn’t your typical cute little downpour either. It was the tropical storm kind. The clouds rolled in, there was thunder and lightning and I panicked. I couldn’t see where I was going, and I couldn’t remember where I had been. I had no idea where I was.

So here I was, drenched from head to toe, in hot pink shorts and a yellow tank top. Running nearly blind, in an area which I no longer recognized, doing my best to keep my phone dry. A pathetic sight I’m sure. A few cars stopped out of pity and tried to lend a helping hand, but “stranger danger” was faithfully engraved in my head and kindly reminded me to steer clear. I did eventually find my way home, and thankfully, I didn’t fall on my face in the process.

This somewhat comical experience has reminded me of a few things. Like it says in Proverbs– I can’t be wise in my own eyes. You see, the very environment I knew to be familiar, instantaneously changed and seemed to be entirely different. The tools I formerly leaned on for guidance failed me– miserably. And the atmosphere changed, dramatically. It all happened in one quick motion, and just like that, all confidence in myself was obliterated. I didn’t lack determination; that I had. What I lacked was direction.

Sometimes, it takes an engine failure to realize just how much we’ve relied on a spark plug. You never really think about what you’ve leaned on until it crumbles.  It’s funny really. The old song “you never know what you’ve got til’ its gone” is fairly relative. It always seems to be the little things that fight to ruin my day.Whenever I get a papercut (I seem to get these often at work) I’m always shocked at how suddenly aware I am of my pinky. I never really notice it unless it’s injured. In one way or another, everyone and everything will eventually fail us. But we decide how much the gravity of the failure will affect us. It’s all relative to how closely we’ve trusted or depended on them.

The storms of life test our vision. They reveal to us what we’ve truly set our eyes on. They show us who our heart has clung to. Maybe God allows people, circumstances, or environments to fail us so that we will recognize how reliant on them we truly are. He desires for us to take our eyes off of the counterfeit, remove all false security, and trust in Him. Only Him, above everyone and anything else. Without Him we are running through the storms of life blind without direction. This is no way to live.

So, if you find yourself in a panic, ask yourself; why am I frazzled? He is incapable of stress, anxiety, fear and failure. He is stable. Through the madness, chaos, and confusion. He will not be shaken. Check your eyes– What are they focused on?