An Encounter with Two Very Different Sorts of Lions
There is nothing but the quiet hush of snow still falling in the middle of nowhere... it is beautiful. Peaceful. Trees laden with two inches of pure white, branches stretching to a dark sky. This should be a holy moment. It should...
But it isn't. At least... not at first.
I am driving along on my way to and from church, and on both trips I have the exact same experience. I don't know how else to explain it than this:
1 Peter 5:7-11:
Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen. (NIV)
I am trying to do this:
Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. (v.7, NIV)
It ends up being more of a wallowing in the anxieties than a casting of them. Exit: self-control and alertness. Enter: panic, and a very snarly wildcat that has some very vocal opinions of a few people it knows wouldn't like it and more than a few lies it would like me to believe.
Resistance? "Oh, God, please help me." It is the best I can manage.
And there are the trees. Standing tall. Rooted deeply. Covered in pure white snow. Surrounded by quietness. And I hear God whisper... "Steady."
What is that supposed to mean? I am sure it is meant to be comforting, tho I do not understand. I cling to it. Try to ignore the snarling. Keep driving. Get where I'm going. Melt down for a couple of minutes (I'm a girl, I'm entitled). Take a deep breath and get on with what's next...
Rachel posted this a few days ago - a different analogy of maybe a somewhat similar situation, in terms of all hell breaking loose, tho in my case it is much more mental. Ruth commented on her post and reminded us of Jeremiah 17:7-8, which says: "But blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him. He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit."
Two days later, God's word to me, "Steady...", in light of those verses, makes much sense. And it makes me laugh that v.10 (NIV) says that God will make us "strong, firm, and steadfast..." Steady...
The NKJV (v.10) says, "May the God of all grace....perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you." Settle... I like that. I need that, internally. Praise God, I've found a bit of that since the drive... I honestly suspect someone was praying for me even that night, because I could tell you exactly the moment when I started to feel settled...
I've been thinking a lot lately about these verses from Ephesians - mostly because I'm going to be preaching on them (and probably tying them into my failure issues - preach what you know, right?) and praying through this particular experience, I think they really apply:
"I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God." Ephesians 3:16-19
Rooted and established in love... like a tree. If my roots go deep, if I'm established in God's love, that wildcat can roar all it wants to, and it won't matter. I'm standing tall, arms stretched against the darkness, worshiping my Maker, and totally clothed in white.
1 Peter 5:8-11 (The Message): "Keep a cool head. Stay alert. The Devil is poised to pounce, and would like nothing better than to catch you napping. Keep your guard up. You're not the only ones plunged into these hard times. It's the same with Christians all over the world. So keep a firm grip on the faith. The suffering won't last forever. It won't be long before this generous God who has great plans for us in Christ—eternal and glorious plans they are!—will have you put together and on your feet for good. He gets the last word; yes, he does."
"It won't be long before this generous God...will have you put together and on your feet for good... He gets the last word."
I love it that God's roar is so loud... and all He whispered was, "Steady..."