I can't believe there's only a week left in this Write 31 Days challenge! When I first started, I felt a little panic about how it would all go, and now I feel a little panic because I have so much more to say! Guess that's the life of a writer...
Anyhow, today is the last section of strengthening our spiritual core according to the Armor of God passage in Ephesians 6. [If you're new to my blog, be sure to visit my write 31 days page to catch up on my deep to DEEP series.]
We've been talking about defensive protection against the enemy--belt, breastplate, shoes, helmet. And today we finally get a sword!
"and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." Eph 6:17b
Spirit | synonym is advocate, which is one who pleads the cause of another; defender
Sword | handheld weapon with a LONG blade
I've always loved words. I've always loved stories. I've always loved books. I can devour good fiction in a day. There's nothing quite like holding a book in my hands. [and sidenote, I prefer paperback to hardback because they aren't so cumbersome to hold as I read for lengthy periods.] Reading is my happy place, and so is learning.
So that piece has always been in play. But my love for God's Word wasn't always there.
I grew up in the church, but would say a defining moment in my faith was at FCA camp when I was in middle school. I hated camp after a bad experience when I was in 4th grade. I got SO homesick. So when it came to FCA camp (only with my school group), I was adamant that I wouldn't go. Until peer pressure got to me. A couple friends were relentless in insisting I should come. I caved. I went. And it was a good thing.
Because that evening, we stood as a group praying together. I don't remember exactly what the leaders prayed over. But I remember feeling SOMETHING. This heavy, heady, wonderful SOMETHING. Something powerful and tingly. A something that others felt, too.
I know it was my first experience with the Spirit. It's not always like that. But I'm thankful for that memory because it stuck with me, even through life's ups and downs, bad choices, and wandering.
When it was time to pick a college, I visited several, all with the intent of playing volleyball. But when I stepped onto the Tabor College campus, I had a knowing. THIS was my place. After a couple years of being really angry at God after my brother died, I had only recently started finding my faith again. It was tender. And God knew I needed fertile ground to grow in. Tabor was that. And HE put that in my spirit. Even as a high schooler, I had always wanted to be a Hillsboro Trojan (I mean, they were GREAT at sports!), so coming to Hillsboro wasn't a stretch...even when my classmates made fun of me for wanting to go to "prison".
But just as Paul learned to be content in prison, so I was at Tabor (by the way, I NEVER felt anything but freedom at Tabor...I loved my student experience.) God paired me with a roommate who was dedicated to daily Bible reading and journaling. I wasn't. I never picked up the habit while at Tabor. But I watched and learned. I soaked it up like a sponge...a seed with tender roots.
Another mod-mate sought out a quiet place every day as well. I watched her sit on a bench outside, communing with her Father.
I was constantly surrounded by Christian talk...what's my calling? I feel God is saying... I heard from the Lord...
I half-thought they were making it all up. But the rest of me WANTED that.
From very early in my life, I started pretending. Everything's fine. I'm fine. FINE. (A four-letter word to be sure!) So I did that at Tabor, too. I pretended I knew exactly what these people were talking about. I tried hard to always appear to be the good student in Bible class who knew what was going on. But I just didn't hear the Word.
I was on the right track, but wasn't digging in. I didn't know that it took dedication. I didn't know that in order to hear God, I had to pay attention and listen. I knew how to read, but not how to understand...which is very frustrating when you have a high reading comprehension score! HA!
But by listening to the nudge of the Spirit on my life, being at Tabor started to wake me up to what life in Christ could look like.
After getting married, I started implementing a daily quiet time. At first it was reading a devotional book over a bowl of cereal. Then it was praying through some of the Psalms. I remember pleading multiple times for God to give me a hunger for His Word.
He has answered.
God's Word is now my place.
Do I understand everything? No. But I have a desire for that! I want to know everything I can about God and about His Word and about His Cause.
The sword of the spirit is living and powerful. The sword of the spirit wounds to heal and give life.
For a long time, those words absolutely did NOT make sense to me. But gradually, over the course of the years, God has been wounding me so He could heal me. And I wouldn't trade it for anything! It has been hard. It has been painful. It has required much of me...ALL of me. Surrendering is at first scary.
Christine Caine is right when she says, "A lot of times we don't want to embrace the pain of recovery because sometimes the pain of recovery is worse than the actual injury."
And the longer we've lived with an injury, the harder it is to work through. The pain is embedded, and yet has probably subsided. It might not seem worth the effort to dig it back up and work through it. Especially when you aren't reliving the trauma every day.
Healing might not seem worth the work or the pain.
But that's exactly what God wants us to do. He wants us to surrender those injuries...those traumas. He wants to take those scary places. Those dark places. Those deep places. And bring them into His DEEP.
And there is such promise there. Such hope. God's Word and His healing bring hope and purpose.
Today, let's embrace recovery.
Choose to get out of the deep.
Choose to relish in the active, alive sword.
Let it pierce. Let it wound.
And then let God cover with his DEEP.
Let it heal.
"But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you." (John 14:26 NIV)