Not-So Special Delivery

Early Tuesday morning I opened the front door to be greeted by a small pile of this, right smack dab in the middle of my “Welcome” mat:

Poop emoji

Only it wasn’t smiling. And neither was I.

(And in case you’re wondering, this is NOT the soft-serve chocolate ice cream emoji.)

Talk about a rude awakening.

I have no idea what deposited this lovely gift on my front porch.

But I’m pretty sure I know who was behind it.

You see, it was a statement.

From the enemy.

Let me explain.

For the past six weeks or so, I’ve been leading a Bible study on Thursday nights with a wonderful group of gals. The topic? “Women Encountering Jesus.” We’ve eavesdropped on a conversation at a Samaritan well, witnessed the mock trial of an adulterous woman and looked on, wide-eyed, at a sinner’s public display of affection at a dinner party.*

We’ve fallen more deeply in love with the Man who met each one with matchless mercy.

The last few passages we’ve studied, however, have involved Jesus demonstrating His power over forces in the spiritual realm. We’ve sympathized with the desperate mother begging for relief for her demon-possessed daughter, and cheered as a dear crippled woman was released from bondage after nearly two decades of demonic oppression.

We’ve been awed by this One who exercised unparalleled authority over it all.

Over the years I have gained some firsthand knowledge of spiritual battle. (So have you, no doubt, if you’ve walked with the Lord for any length of time.) I’ve learned to identify the enemy’s activity and recognize his calling card. I fully expected to meet with resistance as we tackled the subject of Satan and his partners in crime. So frankly I was a little surprised when all remained quiet on the western front.

And then the Special Delivery showed up on my doorstep.

Along with a “note,” signed by the accuser himself.

I’m out here, prowling around, just waiting for an opportunity.

(I should also mention that my husband had just left town. Coincidence? I think not.)

But GOD also had a message for me.

This is as close as the enemy can get to a believer in Christ. He cannot cross the threshold. His garbage must stay outside and he knows it. Nothing can touch you unless I say so.

Wow.

It was quite the visual.

Yes, the lion still prowls and threatens.

We see his tracks and evidence of his presence.

I’ll admit I was a bit rattled by his public display of “affection.”

But

I. Refuse. To. Be. Intimidated.

Because the Lion of Judah guards my life.

And greater is He who is in me than he who is in the world!

Hallelujah!

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8, NIV)
 
Look, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the heir to David’s throne, has won the victory. (Revelation 5:5b, NLT)
 
He who was born of God keeps him, and the evil one does not touch him.
(1 John 5:18b, NAS)
 
You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. (1 John 4:4, NIV)

 

*See previous blog post for more on the story of “The Sinful Woman.”

 

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Backyard Battles

The other day I was startled by a commotion outside my bedroom window. I looked up just in time to see a hawk streaking across our backyard with two angry, noisy robins in hot pursuit. My guess is that Mr. Hawk was seeking refreshment at the “Red-Breast Bed and Breakfast.” Only Ma and Pa Robin responded with a firm “No Vacancy!”

It’s Open Season on baby birds. Hawks aren’t the only predators. Several of my friends have been blessed with bird’s eye views of nests this spring.  In fact, just this morning one of these friends shared her distress over recent blue jay attacks on the nest that was constructed inside a planter on her porch. Five babies were scattered on the ground as she and her daughter ran interference in an impassioned effort to rescue them. (Three currently remain.)  (Just received an update.  Make that one.)

This past weekend I was outside pulling weeds, soaking in some sun, when, for about the third time this week, a hawk zoomed overhead followed by a squawking robin. Another ambush averted?  I could only hope.

Something inside my maternal soul resonated with the robins’ relentless efforts to protect their little ones from harm.  I could relate, in a spiritual sense, to the sobering reality that a predator also hovers over my nest, with my children in his sights.

“Stay alert!  Watch out for your great enemy, the devil.  He prowls around like a roaring lion (or ‘a soaring hawk,’ SLS version), looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8, NLT)

He circles the house.  Hungry for his next meal.  Waiting for an opportunity to strike.

I can’t see him, but I know he’s out there.

My offspring, the object of his cruel desire.

That afternoon, as I watched the robin tenaciously chase the hawk out of the yard, I pictured the faces of my own children.  This quiet declaration rose up within me, a mother’s battle cry:

You. Can’t. Have. Them.

Like the robin, I may be small, but I will be unstoppable when it comes to fighting for my babies.  I will stay alert in prayer for them.  I will partner with my faithful God in protecting them, both in and out of the nest.

A second friend recently witnessed another dramatic backyard battle.  Her barn cat had captured a helpless baby bird and was preparing to enjoy his little snack.  Mama and Papa bird were nearby, frantic.  They dove at the cat in desperate attempts to secure the baby’s release.  Then one of them, in a last ditch effort to distract the feline, cleverly feigned a broken wing.

The strategy worked!  The cat pounced on the parent, consuming it instead.  The baby escaped, unharmed.

What a poignant picture of Christ!  He delivered Himself over to the adversary, offering His life for ours and securing our freedom.  His is a love so fierce that He will stop at nothing to save His children.

He looked the enemy square in the eye and declared:

You. Can’t. Have. Them.

“I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand.” (John 10:28, NAS)

He will fight for us and for our children.

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Thieves

Emily’s iphone was stolen Monday night.  She thought it would be safe in her coat pocket in the break room at work.  She was wrong.

A few months ago at church she also thought her purse would be safe on the seat next to her during worship.  Wrong again.

Both of these incidents had relatively happy endings.  Her purse was discovered in the women’s bathroom, mostly intact.  Her iphone was recovered within a few hours, thanks to a diligent police officer and amazing modern technology.  (Thieves, beware of a handy little iphone app which signals a lost phone’s exact location!)

The loss of trust, however, is harder to regain.  A sense of personal well being and security is more difficult to recoup.  A thief steals more than mere personal belongings.

A few weeks ago my sister sent me a text message with this question:  What is your favorite Bible verse?  I’ve never really designated one particular verse as my all-time favorite.  But Jesus’ words in John 10:10 were the first thing to pop into my mind:

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” (NAS)

It seemed like a strange response at the time.  Not the kind of verse you’d necessarily want stencilled over your fireplace or cross stitched in a frame.  References to theft, murder and destruction aren’t exactly family room friendly.

Yet aren’t these the very themes that have been playing out on television screens in family rooms all across the country lately?  One needn’t look far to find abundant evidence of this “thief’s” activity.  Satan’s fingerprints are all over recent events, from the tragic suicide of a well-known pastor’s son, to the drama and devastation on Boston’s bloodstained  sidewalks, to the massive fireball which left a Texas community reeling and mourning.

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy…”

Should we be surprised?  It’s his job description, after all.  The NAS New Testament Greek Lexicon defines destroy as “to render useless.”  If he can’t murder his victims outright, he will attempt to rob them of joy, hope and purpose.  He seeks to paralyze, defeat, and make us ineffective.

“I came that they might have life…”

Into this dark reality…Jesus came.  His assignment?  To bring LIFE.

He once claimed Isaiah 61 as His job description.*  Verses 3-5 contain phrases such as these:

“…to bestow … beauty instead of ashes … joy instead of mourning … praise instead of a spirit of despair …”

“…to rebuild … restore … renew … (what has been) … devastated …” (NIV)

This is why He came.  To unravel the work of the enemy.  To return what the thief has stolen.  To take tragedy and somehow fashion something beautiful out of it.  I don’t know how He does it.

It takes time.  Often a long time.  Maybe even a lifetime.

But He can and will do it.  It’s what He’s all about.

And that is why I’m holding on to Him, and to John 10:10, a little more tightly these days.

*See Luke 4:16-21.

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