Upstream

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Going through a hard time is like walking upstream in water that is chest level. Sometimes I lose my footing and I slip and go all the way under, the cold water a slap to my face.  It would be so much easier to turn around and walk downstream, where the water will carry me along and I won’t have to work so hard.  I can see from here that it widens downstream and there are many there.

But this is where God called me. Upstream.

I’m learning it’s not always going to be easy going this way. It would be much easier to go with the crowd, to follow everyone else.  It would be so much easier to splash around in the shallow water, to stretch out in all that space and do whatever I wanted, to get out when I’m tired or uncomfortable.  But again, God didn’t call me to a life of ease or downstream where it’s wide open.  And He didn’t call me to follow people.  He called me to follow His Son.  And I know Jesus suffered.

So why am I surprised when life hurts? Why do I get discouraged when I know I’m going in the right direction?

Because there is a thief in the water. Satan is trying so hard to trip me right now and steal my progress.  And when I stubbornly refuse to turn and go back, he whispers all sorts of lies to slow my trek.  He tries to tell me going upstream is a waste of time, that I’ll never make it.  He even tries to tell me the water is way too deep up ahead and I’m not strong enough to handle it.

But I know he’s a liar.  So I plant my foot in the gravel and sand underneath and I press on. I press on because I know at just the right moment, just when I feel I can’t go on and that discouragement is about to swallow me and pull me under, that the God who made a way through the Red Sea will surely make a way for me here in this stream.

As I look around in this stream I realize I’m not alone. Press on, my friend!  Blessings are up ahead, purpose, and glory to God! Let our sorrows and cries merge and burst forth as a battle cry, echoing across the land as we push through the water together.  We will not be moved!  I will hold your hand if you slip, and please, oh please hold mine when I do.  We have much ground to cover and the only waste of time is listening to the enemy’s lies.  His words are slippery; let them slide off and into the water.  Then stomp him into the muck and leave him behind.

As we push forward together, let us watch as the mighty hand that comes to part the stream also gently reaches out to wipe the tears from our eyes and the sweat from our brows as He welcomes us home; a home away from all the struggles, away from physical pain and emotional agony. A home for those who follow Christ on this narrow road, this journey upstream.

“You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way.  But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it.”  (Matthew 7:13-14 NLT.)

The Grip

grip

Grip.  That’s the word God whispered to me yesterday.  And since that moment I’ve been asking Him to make it clear because there are so many ways to look at it.

I thought about all the times I went on roller coasters and my knuckles were white and bulging because I had a death grip on the bar just in case the seat belt gave out.  I remember the tight grasp I had on my daughter’s hand every time we crossed a busy street when she was little.  And I remember the strong hold of my husband’s hand when he grabbed onto my own to help me across the rocky terrain of a gushing river.  There are so many ways we grip onto something or someone, but I don’t believe that’s the “grip” God was pointing to.

The idea here is not about what we grip onto, but what grips us.

So let me ask: What has a grip on you?  Something harmful like an addiction or fear?  What are you allowing to dig, claw, and tear its way into your life, into your thoughts?  What’s stealing your time and health because it’s got a death grip on you and it’s all you can think about so you lose minutes or hours of your life or even sleep as it torments you?  What’s killing your smile because you’re allowing it to hang around, to taunt you and remind you of some shame, guilt, or past failure? Do you sense you’re on the verge of some sort of destruction, a break-down of sorts; mental, physical, or spiritual?

As you may or may not know there is a thief who wants to get his claws into you and steal your life away:  Satan.  You have to realize he’s not the little red guy with a pitch fork you’ve seen on cartoons but a very real, very evil being who wants to trick you into walking right into your own destruction.  And he’s going to make you miserable so you’ll hurry along to get there.

You see, God has a purpose for you.  There’s a reason you’re here, and Satan is afraid you’re going to go to God and ask Him.  Satan’s doesn’t want you to know how important you are and how much God loves you. The enemy would rather you wander around lost and confused and feeling alone, so he can get a tight grip on your mind; prying into it and filling it with his lies.  That makes you an easy target.  And then he’s got you.

But you can stop Satan’s tight grasp from cutting off your circulation, keeping you numb or oblivious to what he’s doing.  Ask God to help you; He would love to free you from Satan’s clutches.

With God, He doesn’t want to grip you painfully in some way, to control you and walk you around on a string like some puppet.  Rather, He wants to hold you.  He wants you to know you don’t have to do it all on your own.  He’s with you.

And as your loving Father, God longs for that moment when you slip your hand into His as His little child.  All you need to do then is stay close to Him and hold on tight as He leads you to the full life He has for you.

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10 NIV.)

 

Cardboard Box

cardboard box

I felt led to revisit this old post and share it again.  Perhaps I’m not the only one who needs this today.

If you’re following God’s plan for your life, Satan, the enemy of your soul, is going to attack you in any way he can.  He wants to discourage you, squeeze you into a place of depression like a smelly cardboard box, and fill your head with lies about you and your future.  Remember, lying is not only what Satan does, it’s who he is.

But God is with you, and He never lies.  He said He’ll never leave you so hold that promise in your heart and visit it as often as you need to.  You’re not alone.  You’ve never been alone.  You may feel like it, but that’s part of the box, the trap the enemy has set for you.  If you feel alone, you’ll act desperately.  You’ll do things you know you shouldn’t do.  You’ll go somewhere you shouldn’t go or try to reconnect with someone God told you to stay away from.  What you think is a punishment or harsh discipline may instead by God’s hand protecting you.  He has so much more for you.  Don’t go after what He doesn’t want you to have.

But if you’ve fallen into the trap, if the enemy has already tricked you into that box, call out to God.  Just whisper the glorious, powerful name of Jesus.  Let His name come from your lips and flow from your spirit in adoration and trust, and He will come to you and rip that box to shreds!  Then you’ll rise from those scraps to sing praises to Him, slide around on the kitchen floor in your socks, run outside and let the rain fall on your face, and shout with joy because victory is yours through Jesus!

Then you can just toss what’s left of that box out to the trash.

“Submit yourselves, then, to God.  Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”  (James 4:7 NIV.)