Zamora

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.

DECORATING BANDAIDS

 

Abusive, Addicted, Aggressive, Angry, Anxious, Bipolar, Chemically Unbalanced, Depressed, Disturbed, Restless, Stressed, Overweight, Over-Worked, Sleep Deprived, Suicidal, Unhappy, Unsatisfied, Unstable.

These are just some of the words used to describe our world as we know it. Apparently, life seems to be a bit overwhelming for society at large. Sadly enough, these words hardly do justice to some of the things we’ve witnessed recently throughout popular culture. Due to our overwhelming lifestyles, whether they’re hidden or put on display; emotions seem to be getting the best of us–and it shows.

Why? Death, tragedy, accidents. Haven’t they always been around? My only conclusion is that the way in which we’ve been taught to cope is skewed. You don’t have to be a brain surgeon to figure this one out. We may have been taught how to be successful in life, and how to achieve, but we’ve failed to learn how to take a hit. We learn that one plus two equals three. But when you throw an unexpected variable in the mix, we’re thrown off and fail to react properly.

Emotions are not the issue; they are merely evidence that something is wrong. They are the blood that proves the underlying wound. At times, these wounds will never be realized completely because they’ve been hidden behind a lifestyle of addiction, or emotional imbalance. Emotions are like weeds, they are easily cut off, ignored, trampled, or hidden. But, without addressing the root, they will continue to resurface.

Eventually, after dealing with pain the same way for so long, our coping mechanisms become a part of a character and personality. Almost by default, it looks like this is what’s happened to a lot of hurting people.

We live in the land of the free, the home of the brave, where the “American dream” is tangible. Where everything is accessible, and possibilities are endless. Yet, it seems that suicide is normality, and escapism is the fast-track to an enjoyable life. Some of us were taught to treat the wounds, to rejoice in suffering, and press onward. While others, were taught to cover it up, and cope as the ones before them did.

Our society isn’t taught to rip of the old blanket, and examine the wound. Instead, we’ve adorned our band-aids; decorating them, and making them a mere accessory. We have learned to live with them, and even worse, it’s become popular to show them off. Turning what used to be ugly, into a fad. Emotional pain has been covered up with drugs, sex, alcohol, prescriptions, depression, and recklessness. All to be dubbed as “just what you do” or “common”.

I love learning from Job, if anyone has the right to talk about hardship it’s definitely him. It seems as though Job’s life proves Murphy’s law; “Everything that can go wrong, will go wrong.” The only way I could picture it being worse is if it was it was blasted across the tabloids and national television for society to examine and scrutinize. I wonder what our judgment would have been.

Job was in a place I often find myself in. Confused, frustrated, and wondering what I’ve done wrong to deserve circumstances. It’s sad how easily we embrace blessings, without even a second thought of gratitude, while we immediately reject hardship and calamity; the complaints and blame seem to come easily. If you haven’t read from the book of Job in the Bible, I highly suggest it. Just make sure you get through the whole thing; without God’s sovereignty at the end, it would be a lost cause and an entirely depressing story. Instead of turning to suicide, or indulgences, Job turns to God.

God doesn’t expect us to be perfect, but He does want us to learn to lean on Him. Oftentimes He uses our low points to show us Himself in ways we might not see when life feels okay. Our job is not to miss those growth lessons. No matter what God allows you to experience, He wants to deepen your faith in Him. The journey often carries pain. That’s growth. Don’t waste the pain, but let Him sift and refine your character.

“Your struggles will either reveal ugliness or develop character. Fight Him, and watch ugliness fester. Or lean into Him, and let Him develop godliness in you.” – Erin Keeley Marshall (Currently reading her book =])

I refuse to let my wounds fester while running to my escape of choice. Conflicts, hardships, troubles, and everyday stresses are at times unavoidable, but throughout them, we must choose to draw near to God instead of away from Him. He is the only answer, and the only One with the power and authority to address the real issue; the heart of the problem; the root of emotional pain.  He doesn’t run out, give up, leave you, or cause heartache.

My heart will turn to the Lord, and I know He will respond.

Praise the LORD, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits-”- Psalm 103:1-2