Thursday Repost

And again, I find myself shortish on time and longish on things to say. Cramming every moment of writing time into my novel in hopes of having a finished product ready to pitch in September when I attend a nearby conference. And dealing with teens, intractable headaches, etc.

But some bit of good news! I have a tumor inside my skull. While it may not sound like good news, it is. It is very tiny, almost certainly benign, treated with medication, explains a few odd symptoms I’ve enjoyed of late, and may even have something to do with my headaches.

The truth is, even if it wasn’t benign, it would still be good news. Whatever God wants to do with me is His business. I am His either way. To live is Christ; to die is gain. Truthfully.

But without further ado:

https://letusruntherace.net/2015/12/16/on-tents/

Bringing the Lion to Bay

Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.
1 Corinthians 10:12-14

A few of days ago, I wrote down a few thoughts that had been, at least in part, provoked by a news story concerning a 50-year-old teacher who disappeared for over a month with a 15-year-old student. But there was another element to this story that provided food for thought besides the conundrum of how to raise children who are cautious but not callous, innocent but not ignorant, and prudent but not paranoid.

Close to Home

You see, the story hit very close to home, both literally and figuratively. The town they disappeared from is close enough that some of our friends and acquaintances have connections with one or more of the families involved. For that reason, I will not bring their names into this post.  I have absolutely no desire whatsoever to name call, finger point, or cast judgement on either party or on their family members. This situation has been confusing and painful enough for everyone involved, and I do not wish to add to their troubles.

Yet, the story still gives me pause, mainly because the teacher cannot be conveniently passed off as a warped, perverse monster who had a habit of preying on innocent children. From what I have heard, he was a family man. A husband, father, and grandfather; even thought of as a Godly man by those who knew him, as well as being a self-proclaimed “Jesus freak,” on his Instagram site.

In truth, this messy event is not an opportunity to look down on a fallen brother in scorn, but a solemn warning to mind my own walk and prayerfully search my heart daily. Because if I am brutally honest, I know I am not immune to falling – perhaps not in the same way, but sin is sin regardless of the ‘style.’

Behind Enemy Lines

It is important to remember that we who are in Christ are, as C. S. Lewis said, an invading force for our Homeland, currently encamped in enemy-occupied territory. What we need never forget even for one instant, is that there is a lion in the camp…

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your Lion001adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
(1 Peter 5:8)

As long as we draw breath in this world, we need not forget that we are immersed in a spiritual battle. Whether you know it or not, whether you believe it or not is irrelevant. In Christ or without Him, a battle is waged every hour of every day and the spoil is not counted in such fluctuating value as dollars, pounds, or Euros but rather measured for eternity in human souls.

Frankly, for those of us who have accepted the Lordship of the Most High, the intensity of the battles waged does not decrease. Rather, our enemy ramps up the attack, furious at having our ruination redeemed. Often, it is not at those already caught up in crime that Satan launches his most earnest and insidious attacks but at the vocal and high-profile believer.

 

You see, what the father of lies wants to do most is discredit the name of Yeshua and to call into question the character of the Almighty and of His followers.  If misery loves company as the old cliche claims, then the devil is the most miserable of beings and longs would love nothing more than to drag as many of the creatures who are made in God’s image down with him in the end.

The Word of God is full of warnings against falling away (see Hebrews 2:1, 3:12, 2 Peter 3:17, et al), but it is also full of hope. As members of the Body of Christ, we are not without hope, and what’s more, we are not alone.

What Can I Do?

Humbling ourselves, being honest and open with our struggles, and praying for one another – not just for material and physical needs, but most importantly for spiritual needs; for restoration of the fallen and victory over sin – these are some of the ways we can come together in Christ and stand against the devil’s schemes.

When one of us falls, we should pray fervently that he or she is restored and be willing to extend forgiveness. When we, ourselves, fall we should confess and repent, submitting ourselves to God’s discipline and purpose. Unified under the Lordship of Christ, we can bring that old lion to bay.

Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.
(James 5:16a)

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.
(James 4:7-8)

On Tents

For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened–not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.
2 Corinthians 5:4

Camping in Minnesota at the end of November is no joke. Before  you find yourself overly impressed by our cold tolerance, however, I should disclose that it wasn’t really all that cold (for Minnesota, that is — the low temps were still in the double digits), and that we were actually in a very warm and snug camper right in the back yard of some family members.

Still, midnight trips to the necessary through a breezy Minnesota November were less than fun. But there was family, laughter, and love, and there were mornings of quiet beauty as the sun rose scattering pink and gold splashes over the frost-covered fields.

And it did get me thinking…

For most of my life, camping has been a recreational activity enjoyed both when I was young and now with my own husband and children. We have typically camped in nice weather, though once or twice we have had the opportunity of finding out what the freezing point feels like in a tent. However, by and large our camping trips have been only for pleasure.

Except for one, that is.

In the weeks since our trip, I have been reflecting on the nuances of our bodies as tents — temporary dwellings in which we reside on the long journey towards our true home.  In that sense, this tent of mine is more akin to one of military use than the ones our family has used for enjoyment. After all, we who are in Christ are camping, as C. S. Lewis puts it, in “enemy-occupied territory.”

Living in tents behind enemy lines means that there will be times of hardship and difficulty. There will be unpleasantness, conflict, and lack of sleep. Comforts may be minimal or non-existent. At times we may even find ourselves alone or in the midst of enemy troops, far from the support of our fellow soldiers and friends.

At such times, we take comfort that this is not our home; that the tent we shelter within is just that: a tent. It is a temporary and portable shelter and it is not meant to be lived in forever.

For those of us who have been living in these tents for some four decades or more, we may occasionally be dismayed at the condition of our canvas. It may be creased with much use, weather-stained, patched, and may appear increasingly shabby.

No matter — we do our best to maintain it still. However, we can patch and scrub with some joy knowing that the time will come when we lay the tired, old things aside and take residence in our permanent home.

Still, despite the inevitable battles and skirmishes that rage around us while living in the enemy’s country, we can find enjoyment during our stay in these tents.  While we are here, we take a moment to savor the sunrise, to linger over the sight of a single butterfly or the sound of birdsong, to find quiet reminders of the Savior’s love amidst the tumult, to enjoy the company of those who are stationed with us at various points of our mission.

And always, always, we stand firm, enduring the hardship and giving thanks for the wonders of His grace, knowing that our time in this tent is ultimately short.  One day, perhaps sooner than we know, we will be called off the battlefields to our eternal home.  Then, O glorious future day! Then, we will be clothed with life!

Lord, teach us to be steadfast, believing and living in Your promises. Let us not grow weary of doing good; rather we ask that You will help us to persevere, walking faithfully in Your ways and living for Your purposes. Help us, then, to walk wisely during our sojourning here, making the best use of time because the days are evil. If we suffer, remind us that we are sharing in suffering as a good soldier of Christ. May we live and love in His name, amen.