Ridiculous

It is ridiculous the way He treats me, it really is.

Kids have been sick with a stomach bug, ear infections, and more. I’ve been trying to keep up on the piles of laundry and the bleaching to keep germs from spreading, fighting off sickness myself.

And through it all, yesterday’s mail sat in the box all night, getting soaked with the rain that’s replaced the snow of late.

This morning I splashed through the puddles in house shoes. I retrieved the soggy mess and flipped through the ads and solicitations.

A hand addressed envelope.

I opened that one first.

I scanned the letter. Jaw drops as something flutters out. A large check. From someone who does not know us but “got our name” from someone else.

Like I said, it is ridiculous the way He treats me.

I go back and re-read the letter. What I find there is even more surprising, the un-mistakable “God print” that speaks of His authorship of this generous gift: Joshua 1:8-9, part of my key passage for 2011.

The kids are listening to K-Love and one of my favorite songs is playing. “And if our God is with us, then what can stand against?”

I get down on my knees and thank Him, awestruck.

Sure, the financial gift is a tremendous blessing. But this scripture? The timeliness of this song? This message piercing my heart from all directions?

A reminder from the hand of God through the pen of a stranger that this is the year of conquest and He is behind me, in front of me, above me and beneath me. He is FOR ME!

Right here, right now. With the rain puddles and the sick babies and the sleepless nights and the pharmacy runs.

Thunder shakes my window pane and I inhale His sound. My heart thumps to His rumble. I hear His heart.

It is ridiculous the way He treats me. Ridiculously Lavish. Ridiculously Good. Ridiculously Loving.

Ridiculous.


Trample

I stand at the door on snow day, watching Husband and children exchange fire.

They are all laughing, eating “ice cream,” as daughter sees it.

“Hey Mom!” Oldest son sees me standing at the door. “The snow is almost gone right here because we’ve trampled it so much.”

It flashes, it ignites, it comes to life, the word “trample.”

Gone because of trampling.

I think of my job with “Little Bit,” as I affectionately call her, the job of helping her pave new paths in her brain, help her override the established path of panic and distrust…of FEAR. Help her trample new paths of love and trust.

Trample.

Could trample be to “tread” over and over? My breath quickens as Spirit gives wisdom and I think of this year and the focus scripture.

Could some of our promised territory be taken only by treading it again and again, by establishing new paths, by learning to reject the old path of pain and rejection and doubt and trample again the new?

To make the old gone because of trampling.

I turn from the door and look up the word “tread” in the original language. I find “darak,” and one of the definitions is “to trample.” God has given us promises,  “every spiritual blessing,” in fact. And it is our job to “trample,” to tread on those promises until the old patterns and habits are a thing of the past and we fully possess the promise and we have “laid hold.”

“Every place on which the sole of your foot treads {tramples}, I have given it to you, just as I promised…” Joshua 1:3

I wonder how much ground I don’t possess simply because I fail to tread? Do I cower in fear, like the Israelites did? Do I not want to put forth the effort and cave to exhaustion instead? Or do I find my strength in the Lord?

If this year is going to be that of Conquest, then I must practice trampling.

The Garbage Truck comes and refuses to pick up our busted trash can, for the 2nd week. It seems we are stuck with a useless can. Something about seeing it tumped over, innards gaping open and mouth broken makes me feel fear. Panic. Vulnerability.

Totally irrational, I know.

But old patterns were triggered. Memories of doing everything possible to get rid of something unwanted and needing someone else to step in, lend a hand, pick up when I could go no further.

But they didn’t.

Panic is the response of one drowning, the rash attempt to save one’s life. The feeling of being overwhelmed, of waters covering the head. I know it well. It is quietly triggered in the strangest of ways.

Yet trample reminds me that even water can be tread.

Suddenly I have a desire to go outside and walk in the snow. I grab my jacket, slip boots on, leave girl on potty and littlest in high chair and others to fend for themselves.

I trample snow. I feel the ground give way beneath the soles, hear the crunch of tread.

I leave footprints and look at the territory I have claimed. I see how much unbroken white remains.

This is the year of conquest and I must trample.

Later, we sit down to dinner and Husband glances over at me, then does a double take. He gets up from his chair, comes near, and cups my face in his hands. “Your face is glowing,” he says.

I smile.

“I’ve been trampling,” I tell him.


When Life is One Big Mess

I’m sinking in the middle of MESS.

Littlest one has a dirty diaper. Noted.

Just let me finish wiping down the tub that hasn’t been scrubbed in…well, we won’t go there… and brush the crumbs off the couch from crackers that are suppossed to ONLY be consumed at the table, and oh, did I mention that #2 also has a diaper that needs changing?

Then I notice wet sticky on the floor and see that littlest has grabbed soup bowl off of table and carried it into living room, leaving a trail of chicken enchilda soup (yummy to eat no doubt, but really, need we track it all over the house?) for mommy to add to her to-do list.

I strip Littlest down to his (dirty) diaper and throw the clothes on the floor to pick up later- after #’s 1-8 are done on my list- just as children #2 and #3 run through the house, tramping right through chicken enchilada, determined to share it’s goodness with the bedrooms.

I sit on the floor and cry.

Is this really what my life is about? This perpetual attempt to climb out from under, to keep from plumb drowning?

“How do I do this?” I ask Him.

I see that sitting here long is more disaster in the making, so I grab a towel and, on hands and knees, start wiping up chicken. (Mopping the floors has now made my list.. I did NOT intend to add that particular to-do to the list today.)

That’s when His answer comes. “I have nothing better for you to do right now than develop humility.”

Whoa.

I know it is true. I need humility and I crave it because I am so full of pride and I see the effects of it in my life and in my home and I despise it in me and I’ve asked Him for the gift of humility as I start this New Year of Conquest.

His words tell me He is happy to grant and thrilled that I am finally on board with Him.

“Let him consider how all want of love, all indifference to the needs, the feelings, the weakness of others; all sharp and hasty judgements and utterances, so often excused…all manifestations of temper and touchiness and irritation; all feelings of bitterness and estrangement, have their root in nothing but pride, that ever seeks itself, and his eyes shall be opened to see how a dark, shall I not say a devilish pride, creeps in almost everywhere, the assemblies of the saints not excepted.” Andrew Murray

Oh yes, I’ve got the roots of pride that manifest in many, many ways and utterances. It pains me that as Adam passed down his nature, so I am passing mine down to little ones I long better for. So I pray for humility. Again.

Then, as little ones spill and mess and fight and resist, there it is: the answer to my prayer, the chance for humility.

I’ve felt so buried under daily life that I’ve missed what God has been up to. While I’ve prayed for character, for peace, for help, for grace, for love, for patience, for tenderness… I’ve missed what He has been trying to tell me. I’ve missed HIS agenda.

I could weep at the insight.

His agenda is humility. Humility’s fruits are all those things I’m after and if I make humility my aim, seek to humble myself when the messes come one on top of another; when the fighting starts; when little ones resist instruction; if I focus on me and my lesson-learning from Master instead, then I begin to lay hold of everything I’ve been praying for.

“Now you’re getting it!” He says.

“I have nothing better for you to do right now than develop humility.” I receive the words as a gift, mull them over and treasure them. They are life. They are peace.

“In striving after the higher experiences of the Christian life, the believer is often in danger of aiming at and rejoicing in what one might call the more human, the manly virtues, such as boldness, joy, contempt of the world, zeal, self sacrifice…while the deeper and gentler, the diviner and more heavenly graces- poverty of spirit, meekness, humility, lowliness- are scarcely thought of or valued.” Andrew Murray

And so I know. The Year of Conquest begins here, pursuing humility. I know what to focus on beyond the mess, the noise, the chaos. I know what He wants me to possess.

As I clean up soup on hands and knees, I ask for wisdom, for the eyes to see humility and its fruit and how it is to breath in me right now.

And I might even come to love these daily insignificances?…For where better to discover and develop the very nature of Christ?

Oh, and if you’re looking for me, try checking under the table. I think someone else just made the milk jug dart gun target…


How to Hit the Bull’s Eye

It was the Olympic Games, 2004, and Matt Emmons was guaranteed the gold.

With one bullet left to shoot, all he needed was a 7.2 to gain his second gold medal. He aimed…fired…BULL’S EYE!

Except he hit the wrong target. He had cross-fired, had aimed at a competitor’s target. He was awarded a score of zero.

Instead of the gold, he finished eighth.

I wonder at the story, making it my tutor. They say cross fires are mental errors. You can have the ability, the promise, the opportunity…but be confused about your target.

I know about that. I know about floundering and shooting shotgun style, spraying everything out there instead of aiming my one shot, the bullet of my life, at the right target.

People and places much nobler than I have missed it too. Jerusalem, that city of Kings, full of rich history and spiritual tradition, was wept over by the King of Kings. “If you had only known!” He lamented with tears, “the things which make for peace. But you did not recognize your day of visitation.”

How terrible that we can have Everything right there in our midst, be visited by Him, be the recipient of His favor and blessing, but miss it all… cross fire, because we didn’t recognize what our target should have been.

The warning of Jerusalem makes me weep. It makes me fall to my knees and plead for insight, for wisdom, for a pure longing for the Kingdom that outweighs all other longings in my soul. I know how close I am to Jerusalem’s history becoming my present, played out all over again.

It would help if the target was clearly defined, yes? If the mind stayed focused on the right goal. If we recognized Emmanuel in our midst and learned from Him the things that make for peace. Can we know without a shadow of a doubt what our goal should be, the one that will guarantee a win, promise success, the one that will give us the gold and everything that goes with it?

YES!  “But seek His kingdom, and these things will be added to you.” Luke 12:31

The gold is won by shooting the right target and the promises of God are possessed by seeking the one thing. I don’t have to go in a hundred different directions.

I just need focus on the one thing.

How does one become an expert shot? By doing the right “sameness” day after day after day after day. So for 2011, I will wake up and do the same thing day after day…seek His kingdom. Meditate on His words. Take no action until I have a Word to live by.

I will find my target, ensure it is the right one, and I will aim my life at it.

Sure, I might miss. Certainly I will not score 100%. But I will be defining my purpose, getting better at living this Christian life, making my bullets of days count.

Here’s the game plan:

1. Daily read (memorize, recite, review) this year’s focal passage.

2. Mutter the Words of life, those promises that speak Truth, throughout the day. Repent when I mutter words of destruction.

3. Pray the most powerful prayer I’ve ever prayed (This with this ) when I’m searching, when I’m finding, when I’m shooting, when I’m winning, when I’m losing.

4. Record, articulate, scratch down on paper how it works…or doesn’t. Leave a Book of Remembrance for others.

5. And always take in more and more of His Word, enlarging my territory, moving out in faith.

“…then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success.” Joshua 1:8

Instructions for hitting the bull’s eye… recognize that God is here, this is the day of my visitation, it is His good pleasure to give me the Kingdom, so learn from Him the ways of peace, wholeness, soundness, health. Seek this kingdom! Say goodbye to the past and press forward to the conquest.


On the Threshold

Take a look at your feet.

Go ahead, take a minute to stand up and look down.

Those feet are at a threshold. Do you feel it? Do you know it? Does it pump through your chest and stir your breath as it does mine?

Emmanuel has come and promises to never leave and is committed to travel with us into 2011. And everywhere Emmanuel goes is victory and liberty. 

Those feet, they stand at a threshold, to enter in and take possession.

Over the holidays I returned to my origins. There I found the hounds of hell, or they found me,  and they yapped at my heels, biting and pulling and jerking me back from pressing on. I clawed, trying to hold on. The hounds, those howling messengers of doom, asked me who I thought I was?

“You’re not good enough for that, remember?” they accused. “You will never be better than your roots.”

The words from heaven, they rescue me. They tell me I can press on. I can take new territory.

My adequacy does not come from myself. It doesn’t come from my roots. It doesn’t come from my mother.

And here is an insightful truth: it is possible for our spiritual parents to try and prevent us from entering the Promised Land. Their ancestors did not want it for them, and mine would withhold it from me.  Yet “the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off.” (Acts 2:39)

Just like the Israelite children left the carcasses of their parents in the wilderness to find their inheritance, God’s word gives me permission to possess land my ancestors didn’t.

WE HAVE PERMISSION!

The knowledge makes me want to shout! I can’t do anything about the past. I cannot make my parent’s choices for them. But I can press beyond their threshold.

It is the mark of nobility, to leave behind your father’s house and escape its influence, and we each are invited to become daughters of the King. Us and our children with us. 

“Listen, O daughter, give attention and incline your ear; Forget your people and your father’s house. Then the King will desire your beauty. They will be led forth with gladness and rejoicing; They will enter into the King’s palace. In place of your fathers will be your sons.” Psalm 45:10,11,15,16

 The promise has been given, long since, for anyone who will believe the voice of Truth. It is the Father’s good pleasure to give us the kingdom. Perhaps it is not our ancestors’ good pleasure to see me…you… possess the promised land…

But it is the Father’s good pleasure!

Which voice will we believe? Which voice will we give influence to?

My feet are awaiting my command, to press on or turn back.

With Your good pleasure, Lord…with Your favor upon me, I will press on! I will tread territory far and wide, I will traverse every inch of land You have granted to me in Christ.

I will believe Your word and my feet will cross this threshold. Me and my children after me.


The Quiet before the Conquest

I sit in quiet, rare and a bit odd after holiday flurry.

But welcomed.

I have heard the words that are to be my footing for the coming year; I’ve embraced them and pondered them and they will become my daily portion for the year ahead.

Each year around this time He gives me a focal passage for the coming year and 2011 is to be The Year of Conquest.

I wonder if this is how Joshua felt? Did he sit in stunned amazement? After waiting so long, undergoing so many years of training and preparation?

Did he give in to fear? Did he ponder the obstacles…the fact that Moses was gone and the full responsibility fell to him…or did he find his faith-footing right off? Did he wonder at the timing, trying to make sense of it? Did it seem to “fit” or was it out of place, like words on a thick tongue? 

I think when we realize God’s plan for our lives can be lived by no one but us… well, it has a way of strengthening our faith if we will let it. If we don’t turn around and run. If we don’t keep looking for our Moses to show up and realize instead that I am up to bat. Only I can carry out my portion of His story. I cannot expect Moses to do Joshua’s job.

And this… To think that we, in some way, will lead others to take possession of God’s promises…that is our calling. That is part of why we are here. That is a slice of our “good works” prepared before the foundation of the world. That is what each of us have been given the privilege of doing.

And when God speaks this to a person’s heart, courage is the command. The task will not get done by shrinking back.

All our lives we have prepared for this moment, for this coming year. We have been trained and shaped and readied for what God is going to do in us, with us, through us, and to us in 2011.

So had Joshua. He had been Moses’ assistant and now Moses was dead and Joshua’s life purpose was at hand. The very reason for his existence stared him in the face, stretched out before him in the form of vast territory stretching from ocean to mountain, and he was told to conquer it!

What must it be like, to have such a moment of clarity? To realize that this is what everything in your past has been for, this is what God had in mind when He formed you in the womb?

I believe such times come throughout our lives. When we are allowing Him to shape us, make us, hide us, create us in those secret places and seasons, there comes a time when He brings us to the brink of a vast territory and says, “Be strong and courageous, for you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to give them.”

Joshua’s success depended on one thing. One thing. So does ours.

Here is the challenge: To take everything 2011 has for us by conquest, as a possession given us from God, AND lead others in doing the same.

If we do position ourselves to take 2011 as our possession, will we do the one thing required for success? Or will we be deceived into thinking we need the Word PLUS {…fill in the blank…} until the Book becomes marginalized into nothing of real significance?

What will I do? What will this time next year say of me, of how I lived 2011?

Do I really want the conquest? Then I must center my life on the key.

His words must be my life, my breath, my thoughts, my dreams, my wisdom, my eyesight, my strategy. More than mere words, they are my bread, my sustenance, my movement, my activity. They are my all and I don’t have anything in any given situation until I have His word.

This is how I want to live 2011.

And so I sit in the quiet before the conquest, pondering His words and praying them back to Him and asking Him for the miracle of them becoming part of me. Because when the conquest begins, this mere woman needs a Book to stand on.

UPDATE **After posting this, I read of Ann Voskamp naming her year today too…read the others who are discovering what 2011 is for them?