Monday, March 30, 2015

En garde

Recently, while getting ready for work, I noticed a big, hairy intruder strutting across my bathroom floor. I did not pause to shout, “En garde!” before I engaged him in a battle to the death. The steroid-fed spider resembled a brown recluse; evidence is inconclusive as I did not stop to inspect him before I ushered him into the afterlife. My first two blows dazed and angered him, but he still had a cocky swagger as he charged me. I whispered a prayer and pounced again. Thanks to a trusty tennis shoe and some good aim, I was victorious.

My healthy fear of spiders resulted from two previous bites, each of which landed me in the ER. But this sinister arachnid’s unwelcome presence in my home reminded me of something else: a friend’s recent warning to be alert and on guard, watching for the enemy. Her response was generated by a convo in which I shared that lately God had brought to my mind the Old Testament saint Nehemiah.

Through God’s miraculous favor, Nehemiah was allowed to leave his prestigious and pivotal role as King Cyrus of Persia’s cupbearer in order to return to Jerusalem and attempt to rebuild the city, particularly the city’s wall. Once there, he faced logistic problems, economic woes and taunts from his enemies. In response, Nehemiah prayed then stationed a guard, a watchman on the wall, whose job was to warn everyone of impending danger just as Peter warns us: “Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8 NLT)

As work progressed, the Jews’ enemies continued to mock and ridicule them while the Enemy of their souls assailed them with doubt, confusion, and fear. The adversaries’ terror campaign escalated into a full-blown plot to kill the man of God. Nehemiah responded by posting guards in all of the wall’s gaps and encouraging the people with words of God’s strength and faithfulness. When caught in the enemy’s crosshairs, we would be wise to follow Nehemiah’s example: to pray first and then take practical measures to guard ourselves against the enemy’s devices by filling our hearts with God’s promises. Only then, through God's power, can we ruthlessly crush the enemy as I did that stealthy spider.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

The Simple Life

“Tis a gift to be simple
Tis a gift to be free
Tis a gift to come down where we ought to be
And when we find ourselves in the place just right
Twill be in the valley of love and delight.” 

--Shaker hymn

A couple of weeks ago I stumbled onto a mash-up of two of my old-time favorite songs when I found “Over the Rainbow/ Simple Gifts” by The Piano Guys. The first song, of course, comes from the movie The Wizard of Oz. The second is a Shaker hymn which my mom and I used to sing together. The words of the hymn remind us to lead a simple life. For me, that means eliminating clutter, minimizing spending, and leaving time in a warp-speed life for rest and contemplation.

A simple life also holds the invitation for me to retain the childlike wonder God gives us to enjoy Him and His creation. To sing back to the birds who serenade me in the morning. To watch the clouds changing shapes against the backdrop of an infinite blue sky. To pause and admire the trees’ new spring wardrobe. And to spend time with a Creator who treasures me.

Albert Einstein is credited with saying: “There are two ways to live life: as if everything is a miracle or as if nothing is.” I choose the first. And in doing so, I think I am fulfilling Jesus’ proclamation that to enter His kingdom, you must come as a little child. A child empty of preconceived notions and agendas. A child filled with simple faith and awe at the beauty and majesty of God.

Link for The Piano Guys video: