Is He Safe?

One of my favorite childhood books was The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S Lewis. It is a book that transcends age in its layers of depth. I loved the book with a child’s understanding. I am enriched as an adult reading it to my own children.

After nearly a year of unemployment (that has thankfully ended), I thought I knew who God was. I thought my formula of obedience plus service equals blessing was air tight. I have been shown how profound my misconceptions of God and blessing have been through the journey my husband and I have been on.

“Aslan is a lion- the Lion, the great Lion.” “Ooh” said Susan. “I’d thought he was a man. Is he-quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion”…”Safe?” said Mr Beaver …”Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”
C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

I thought of this passage in the book today. It reveals how I have misjudged my God when life blindsided us with trial and shook our world.
He is not safe, but He is good.

Made For Another World

Some days I forget…

I was made for another world.

The reason I don’t fit in some places and some circles is because I am a stranger, an alien here.

I belong to a kingdom not of this world, invisible, but the only true kingdom there is.

This world will never be my home.

Homesickness is a good thing.

Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for those desires exists. A baby feels hunger: well, there is such a thing as food. A duckling wants to swim: well, there is such a thing as water…If I find in myself a desire, which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world. – C.S. Lewis

If you woke up this morning with an unexplained longing that you could not put your finger on and you belong to Jesus, perhaps you are homesick today.

13 These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. 14 For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. 15 If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.

Hebrews 11:13-16

Even so, Lord Jesus, come!

Hand-to-Hand Combat

“Do not gloat over me, my enemy!
Though I have fallen, I will rise.
Though I sit in darkness,
the LORD will be my light.” Micah 7:8 (NIV)

My dad made history come alive for his children. The summer before we left for Congo, he and my mom took us to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. I was ten years old, Nicol was eight, and Todd was five. What could have been a very boring day turned out to be incredibly exciting as my master storyteller daddy was able to transform the empty acres of land into battlefields of over a hundred years before. We climbed Little Round Top and actually ran across the same ground that the ill-fated Confederate soldiers charged over with General Pickett leading them.

“Can you imagine, kids,” Dad said in a hushed tone, “there’s nothing to hide behind here in the middle of this field. We are all out in the open. Facing us is the Confederate army, with their rifles and bayonets. Imagine the two enemy armies getting closer and closer…okay, here they come!”

He made it so real that I actually was a little scared, afraid that any minute we would start hearing the sounds of gunfire. We stopped where we supposed the battle would have been the fiercest. I imagined how horrible that afternoon must have been, when the mayhem of war and the confusion of the battle had made both sides feel as though they were losing, even though the Union soldiers would soon gain the upper hand.

I wonder if you have you ever been in hand-to-hand combat and do not realize it
? Have you been so confused in a battle against the enemy of your soul and his lies that you have been convinced that you are the defeated one? I have. I have grown so bone-tired weary and discouraged that I have bought into the lie that Satan is going to be the victor. The confusion and depression that have been the result of his taunts coupled with circumstances that seem to never change have made me want to high tail it out of the battle. How about you?

One of my closest friends and I have been fervently praying about a situation for months. There have been real breakthroughs…or so we thought. We thought the enemy had been defeated for sure, but for right now it seems he has only retreated long enough to get reinforcements. Now the battle is fiercer than ever. It is very tempting to lose hope, to quit praying, and just give up. The enemy has tried to convince us that our prayers are only reaching as high as the ceiling and falling down around us. Has he whispered any of these lies to you?

“Just give up. There is no love in this marriage. You deserve better. Go file those divorce papers.”

“You’re so worthless. If people only knew what you have done! God could never use you for any useful purpose again. He will never forgive You–ever!”

“You are a rotten parent. Your child’s rebellion is all your fault. You’re a loser.”

“Just dull the pain. This life has no hope. Go ahead, take those pills, binge on that food, or get high.”

“No wonder you aren’t married. No man would want you.”

“You’re not a real woman. You can’t get pregnant. Your husband is going to leave you because you can’t give him a child.”

“You are never going to be able to get rid of this addictive behavior. You are powerless and you always will be. Don’t even try.”

“You will always be a day late and a dollar short.”

“You will always be lonely.”

“You better always be looking over your shoulder. Something terrible might be just around the corner and no one has your back.”
If you have heard these lies, my darling sister, you are in hand-to-hand combat with the enemy. Do you know that Satan and the demons know that they are defeated? But they hope that you don’t know that. Listen to what those dark forces know is the truth:

“Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us.

Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”) No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Romans 8:34-39 (NLT)
Nothing and no one can ever separate us from our God. Nothing that the enemy throws our way in the heat of the battle to distract us from the truth will change the fact that he is a defeated foe! When you cannot see your way out, cling to God’s unchanging hand. Remember what He has done in the past. He is the great I AM. Satan is furious because he knows that his time is short before his power is forever taken away from him. Hold on, sister, hold on!

How do we become convinced that we are the victorious one?

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.

In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.” Ephesians 6:10-18 (NIV)
How often are we opening up our Bibles? Are we reading the living, breathing Words of hope or are we looking to others to commiserate with us? Are our feet standing on firm ground? Do we have an attitude of gratitude or of complaining? How often are we asking Jesus for eyes of faith as we engage in this battle or are we blinded by human sight?

We are more than conquerors! Let’s show up for the battle knowing that the victory is ours!

Jesus, strengthen this weary soul of mine. Life can get so heavy, so complicated, and so confusing. Please tell me again that You have a plan for me to give me a hope and a future. Revive this battle-weary soul of mine that can get so easily discouraged. You are my Victory.

Through the Fire

One cold November evening, when I was nine years old, our 73 year-old farmhouse caught fire due to a faulty oil space heater. Weather-beaten and aged, the house was completely engulfed in flames within twenty minutes. My father was away on a ministry trip
 in California thousands of miles away from our western Michigan home. My mother, sister, brother, and I escaped the flames with the clothes on our backs as we ran out of the burning walls. I remember how small my voice seemed against the black frigidness of the night. Sixteen miles away from the nearest town, with our nearest neighbors a quarter mile back from the road, we appeared to be all alone during the horror we were experiencing.

God often uses a fire in our lives to give us something better. Thirteen months after the fire, our family became missionaries to the Congo. Although those years of bush living were difficult, I was able to see the power of the risen Jesus Christ in so many of our experiences. I was given a world view I would not have today. I was introduced to some of the heroes of the faith who had so little materially and yet had eternal riches I could only stand at a distance and long for myself.

What fire has the Lord had you experience lately? Have you looked to find Him and, like I thought that horrible November night long ago, thought He has left you abandoned? Listen to these amazing words of hope, my dear friend!

Psalm 66:11-12 (New International Version, ©2010)

11 You brought us into prison
and laid burdens on our backs.
12 You let people ride over our heads;
we went through fire and water,
but you brought us to a place of abundance.

Isaiah 43:2 (Holman Christian Standard Bible)

I will be with you
when you pass through the waters,
and [when you pass] through the rivers,
they will not overwhelm you.
You will not be scorched
when you walk through the fire,
and the flame will not burn you.

Daniel 3:25-27 (New Living Translation)

25 “Look!” Nebuchadnezzar shouted. “I see four men, unbound, walking around in the fire unharmed! And the fourth looks like a god!”

26 Then Nebuchadnezzar came as close as he could to the door of the flaming furnace and shouted: “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out! Come here!”

So Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego stepped out of the fire. 27 Then the high officers, officials, governors, and advisers crowded around them and saw that the fire had not touched them. Not a hair on their heads was singed, and their clothing was not scorched. They didn’t even smell of smoke!
The Lord may be asking you and me to go through the fire, but He has promised that He will never leave us or forsake us. He will be right in the fire, shielding us so that we can come out not even smelling of smoke! Hallelujah!

Jason Crabb’s father wrote a song that has meant so much to me. Only those who have been through the fire can sing this and mean it. And on the other side of the fire, as much as we may never want to return to the fire, we can actually praise God for what the fire did to awaken us to Christ’s power in our lives.

May it bless you, whether you are just about to go into the fire, are in the fire, or have just come out.

So many times I questioned
certain circumstances
Or things I could not understand
And many times in trials
weakness blurs my vision
And then my frustration gets so out of hand
Oh but it’s then, I am reminded
I’ve never been forsaken
And i’ve never had to stand one test alone
That’s when I look at all the victories
And the spirit rises up in me
And it’s through the fire
my weakness is made strong

He never promised
that the cross would not get heavy
And the hill would not be hard to climb
He never offered a victory without fighting
But he said help would always come in time
Just remember when your standin
In the valley of decesion and the advesary
says “give in”
Just hold on, our Lord will show up
And he will take you through the fire again

I know within myself
that I would surely perish
Oh but if I trust the mighty hand of God
he’ll shield the flames again, again

He never promised
that the cross would not get heavy
And the hill would not be hard to climb
He never offered a victory without fighting
But he said help would always come in time
Just remember when your standin
In the valley of decesion and the advesary
says “give in”
Just hold on, our Lord will show up
And he will take you through the fire again.