Rachel 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

JUST DO IT

 JUST DO IT

“’Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today…The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still…Raise your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea to divide the water so that the Israelites can go through the sea on dry ground.’”   Exodus 14:13-16 NIV

How many times have I found myself at what looks like a dead-end of disappointment.  Failures and screw-ups can be explained but when I’m led in what looks like the wrong direction, it seems unfair, unjustified, undeserved.   At times life is simply unreasonable.  Like the universe pays no attention to what I want or what has been promised.  In moments like these, I can’t help but look back to double check that I heard God correctly… did I miss something?   Was I mistaken?   Because the circumstances don’t line up with the promises.  Before I know it, doubt begins to take root in my heart.

Just when I feel like I’ve been driven into the ground– like a knight in shining armor, God comes through– and not a moment too soon.  A word, an inkling, a still small voice, a verse, something somehow manages to keep the promise alive and my soul from withering away with disappointment.

After ten plagues, countless firstborns slain, and a king who was fed up; the Israelites were free.   Moses led them out of Egypt and into the desert.  Then, after all of God’s sovereign intervention– He directed them straight into the sea.    Most of us would have thrown the towel in due to the obvious circumstances.  A slow-moving crowd of men, women, and children don’t stand much of a chance against an army of infuriated Egyptians in merciless pursuit.  And, needless to say, the Red Sea wasn’t exactly a great option either.  Had He led them all this way only to kill them off in some miserable, pathetic way?

You’ve probably heard the story, so you already know that the Israelites didn’t drown.  God kept His end of the bargain.  Moses stood as the people walked through the Red Sea as if it were a water park’s drained wave pool.  Sometimes, God will lead us straight into a dead-end simply to show that He is with us.  In times like these, fighting is worthless and swimming is hopeless.  We must stand so that He can act on our behalf and transform the very obstacles we face.  Despite all barriers, against all odds, come hell or high water; He proves that He is with us.

 “And the Lord said to Joshua, “Today I will begin to exalt you in the eyes of all Israel, so they may know that I am with you as I was with Moses.  Tell the priests who carry the ark of the covenant:  When you reach the edge of the Jordan’s waters, go and stand in the river…and its waters flowing downstream will be cut off and stand up in a heap.”   Joshua 3:7-13 NIV

Fast-forward a few years and Israel’s next leader, Joshua, is faced with a similar setback.  I’m sure Joshua remembered the Red Sea dilemma and how God came through.  Surely, he wasn’t ignorant of God’s sovereignty.  Yes, the Red Sea was slightly chancy, but this was different.

Now, I’m reading in between the lines here a bit, but I can almost hear what Joshua might have said: “Isn’t this where I just raise my hands and You split the river like you did the sea?”  Or telling the Priests; “Men, I know this ark is our most valuable possession and I know you’re the holiest among us all, but I want you to march it straight into the river.”

He couldn’t simply do what Moses had done and watch the water split wide open.  No, not Joshua, he was directed to order his best men, the cream of the crop and their sacred treasure, their promise of God’s presence;  straight into the river.  God had stepped it up a notch, a raised hand could have gone unnoticed, but a full throttle priestly processional into the Jordan wasn’t exactly discreet.  This required more participation.  This was risky.  This made absolutely no sense– this was crazy.

I can’t even tell you how many times it feels like God is trying to murder His promises—the very same ones He’s given me.  “Just march into the river Rachel, take a step of faith, and then I’ll take it from there.”   Sometimes, God will ask you to carry the very things He’s given you into what seems like suicide.  In times like these, standing in faith isn’t enough.  Only after obediently marching straight  into the chaos He called you to, will He split the river.

If You’ve Been Asked To Stand:  Stand in confidence and ignore those who threaten to kill God’s plan of destiny for your life.  He is fully capable to fight for you and doesn’t need your help.  Remember, He has promised to never forsake us and you aren’t an exception.  Rest assured that He is ready and able to carry out to completion whatever He said He would accomplish.  Stand, be still, and watch as God sovereignly kisses earth as He acts on your behalf.  

When You’re Told To March:  Depend on the Lord’s instructions, no matter how crazy they sound and regardless of how much better yours seem.  Don’t wait for it to get easy before you move.  Go full speed ahead and trust that He sees the bigger picture and can always change your circumstances.    Remember, failing isn’t His thing; He isn’t out to drown you and your dreams.   March, step out in faith and watch what once were obstacles clear out of the way.  

Don’t drown in disobedience— whether you’ve been told to stand still in faith or march forward in confidence;  Stare your obstacles square in the face and  Just Do It.

THE ONLY EXCEPTION

Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness: for they shall be filled. Matthew 5:6

It seems to me that typically, we don’t expect God to transform or fill us. And we look to things to fill the void because we don’t truly believe that we need Him.

For a few years now, I’ve been praying for my dad whom I haven’t seen since I was sixteen. I felt that if I had a father, I would be complete. His leaving was always my excuse; my reason, to be mad at the world and live however I pleased. Recently, my mom became engaged to an incredible man of God who treats her like a queen and spoils us rotten. Their relationship is a beautiful picture of what true Love looks like. I used to believe that this hole in my heart would be filled when a father figure stepped back into my life.

For the past few weeks, I’ve relied on my environment and circumstances to sustain me. Since I’ve returned from India, it’s been easy living. It’d been so effortless that I began to rely solely on the people and things around me. Yes, it’s absolutely wonderful that everything in life seems to be simplistically drama-free, but it’s been odd. Without battles, I’ve found myself distancing from God. Growing accustomed to coping without Him. As if I only need Him when I’m injured.

Yes, I’ve been spending time with Him. But I’ve also felt empty. Somewhere along the lines of my recently effortless life, I became self-reliant. I assumed since I now had everything I was “supposed” to have, I would be content. This counterfeit confidence lasted a few weeks as  I expected my heart to be filled. But, I was wrong. Slowly drifting away, my self-reliance was killing my purpose. I’m discovering that “happy circumstances” don’t equate to feeling whole, satisfied, or fulfilled. In the end, you find yourself coming up short and something still lacks.

I don’t want to share life with God only when it’s too hard for me to handle. I want Him to be with me in everything. I imagine that it wouldn’t be very fun to only take care of your child through the difficulties. The diaper changes, cuts and scrapes, and continuous messes.  But, I’m sure payment in the form of sharing their first words, steps, or graduation, is much appreciated. God wants to enjoy life with us. He desires to walk with us hand in hand through the bad and the good. If we look, we will find Him everywhere, in everything.

Nothing on this earth will fill me. No earthly relationship can sustain me. No one but Him. He is the Only Exception. I need Him, even when life feels okay.