Wars Of Darkness And Light

There comes moments in all of our lives when we feel a need to get away and rest.  We may call it a time to chill out or to recharge ourselves.  It comes when we feel tired from our work, perhaps stressed from the demands of the everyday workplace.  It may be that even family needs and responsibilities are heavy to bear.  We tell ourselves we need to find a place to relax in mind and body.

In our place of rest we imagine the worries of this world fading away even if it will be for just a few days.  We desire to slip away to a place where we may nurse an emotional wound and revive an exhausted body.  Hope for such relief is strong but often shattered too soon.

You see, it’s in places of solitude that something either wonderful or dreadful takes place. True rest and rejuvenation depends on who wins the battle of the mind.  In our mind, battles between darkness and light take place.  The wars in this zone of thought either revitalizes or demoralizes.  It is a war not wanted but it is there nonetheless seeking to destroy all hope for any rest.

We all experience the effects of such battles.  There we are longing for rest, so we get away to a quiet place.  Then it begins.  Our yearning for a sea of tranquility turns into storms of exhausting thoughts.   Voices of darkness begin its invasion, drowning hope with a wash of reminders of arguments had, desire for revenge; lust and greed surface, the pain of loss and rejection suffocate.  We are sinking.  We are losing the battle.

Our spontaneous reaction to this unwelcome onslaught?  Fight or flight.  Too often we run for our lives, getting as far away from damaging thoughts as we can.  We get busy.  We do something fun.  We watch a favorite film.  We do whatever it takes for the dark and loathsome thoughts to go away; and they do, but only for a time.  When we once again seek solitude, the darkness swiftly returns to haunt us yet again.  Exhaustion grows.  Inside we cry out for rest but it refuses to come.  We are caught in a cycle, believing that if we get away once more, this time rest will come, but once again, hopes are shattered and exhaustion continues to weigh us down.  You see, we will never know the full benefit of physical rest until we learn the key to mind rest.

In the battle for our minds, flight is never the best answer.  We must fight but not with weapons of this world; with supernatural weapons of what is unseen.  We are reminded of this in II Corinthians 10:3-4, “We are human, but we don’t wage war as humans do.  We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments.”  The weapons that God makes available to us are the only source of victory over the accusations and destructive thoughts of the prince of darkness.  Philippians 4:8-9 gives us the key to rest: “Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable.  Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise… Then the God of peace will be with you.”

When we choose to stand, amidst all the pain of dark thoughts, something extraordinary takes place: the accusing and dark voices begins to recede, losing strength, not able to shout so loudly.  Instead, as we make the choice to stand against the attack by focusing on truth, we begin to be able to hear the Light speak louder than the voices of darkness.  When the Light of God’s truth speaks, a sense of sweet peace replaces the fear, gentleness comes to soothe grief and loss,  and joy and hope lifts our faces from the sea of despair where we can breathe in goodness, kindness, and the greatest which is love.

Darkness will never cease attempts to take over our minds but if we choose to stand, to allow God’s truth to penetrate the wall of doom, then truth itself will shatter all that is not of God.  Remember — Light always diminishes the darkness.

 

Intense Desire

I looked up the word “passion” in the dictionary.  The definition is: having an intense desire or enthusiasm for something.  The reason I looked up the official meaning of the word is because of a verse I came across this week that touched something deep within me.  It’s found in Exodus 34:14, “God is passionate about His relationship with you.”  When we take time to meditate upon these words, the depth and height of its meaning is sheer ecstasy.

God so loves each one of us that He will do whatever it takes to reveal that love to us.  We may see His love through nature, contemplating the making of a tree or how a bird floats with outstretched wing in the sky.  Sometimes we catch a glimpse of the heights of His love when we gaze upon the ultrasound of a child, toes and fingers forming, eyes, nose and mouth all there.  At other times, as we call upon God to quieten the anguish of our hearts and the fury of our thoughts when turmoil attempts to choke to death all hope and peace, we begin to understand the passion of our Father.

You see, His love is so vast and pure that He will use all of life, the good and the terrible, to bring us to a place where we look up and find the resources to get us through each day.  We read in Ephesians 1:3 that God “has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms…” In other words, He has given us a treasure chest filled with everything to get us through anything, and all because He is passionate about us.  He knows when we look up to Him, we will find the fingers of His love ready to wipe away all tears.  We will find a trove of His abundance to fill us with peace in the midst of grief, or hope in times of despair, or guidance when we know we are lost and can’t find the way for today, which makes tomorrow a formidable thought.  When we look up to Him, we find courage to endure the unfathomable and strength to reach out and lend a hand to another even when our own hearts are breaking.  As we begin to soak in the passion of God’s love for us, we become overwhelmed with fresh understanding of His intense desire for everything good to come out of everything bad in our lives.

There is no sweeter hope than for one to look up, discover His love, take hold of His hand, and dare to walk with Him into the darkness, for it is then that we are swathed in the light of His passion for us.

Giving God The Broom — Again!

This week I decided to tackle cleaning the back porch.  It was truly a mess!  In fairness, I must say that we’ve been having some work done on the house, so naturally there was dust and debris, a few tools and empty caulking tubes laying about.  Items had been stored on the porch and needed to be returned to the shed; other items needed to be washed, and the floor certainly needed a good sweeping.

Motivated for the task at hand, I set to work feeling rather jovial.  However, after a good while of moving items, sweeping and washing, I stood back to take a look at my progress and — good grief!  It was worse than when I began!  What I thought would take maybe an hour, actually took half the day!  I determined to stay with the job until all was looking good.  When everything was thoroughly cleaned, and misplaced items back in proper places, the result made me feel that the effort was worth it.  What a lovely porch to sit in, sipping coffee, enjoying the country view.

Can you remember times when you came to God and asked Him to clean up your life?  You truly meant it!  Your desire to trust your heavenly Father was strong.  You gave yourself wholly to Him to begin making you like Him.  The cleaning up of the house of your life began.  Your Heavenly Father would go into every room, throwing away all that did you no good, sweeping away the dirt of all sin, polishing you to the point that the Light of  the world — His Son — could shine through you, encouraging others to also give themselves wholly to Father.

But wait…it isn’t exactly all that easy, is it.  Do you ever find that you have the desire, but not the patience?  We want to be made like Jesus — and please make me like Him now!  What we think will take but a prayer to do the job, is actually a daily activity of keeping ourselves surrendered to the holy cleansing of our heavenly Father.   He does a thorough job.  He searches our hearts and minds, dusting and washing, removing and repairing, daily making us a little more like Jesus than we were the day before.

I’ve enjoyed our clean back porch this week, but guess what?  It’s already very dusty — again!  I need to get the broom out.  Next week and the week after, I will need to do the same to keep everything as it should be.

It’s no different in our walk with God.  We get dirty feet walking around in the world.  Our minds get cluttered with debris that makes concentrating on the things of God very difficult.  Our hearts become tainted with unnecessary items of anger and bitterness, perhaps jealousy or arrogance.  Those items need to be swept out and tossed away.  Sometimes we may think to ignore the debris and unwanted items might not be all that bad.  However, one day of unswept dirt just brings on more dirt the next day and the next.

Let’s not ignore the rooms in the house of our lives that need cleansing.  Your heavenly Father is always ready to do His holy sweeping, and when He does, you’ll feel so much better!  It’s not a one time only decision.  My back porch needs regular cleaning; so does my life!

A wonderful daily prayer is found in Psalm 51:10:  “Create in me a clean heart, Oh God, and renew a right spirit within me.”