From Slavery to Battlefields in the Promised Land

I was born into slavery.

In a country far from where my Creator intended me to call home, I struggled helplessly until my Rescuer found me. He loved me, sprinkled His blood to protect me, and defeated the powerful oppressor. Away from that dark country He led me, and promised a land of great abundance and blessed rest.

I wandered a while in the wilderness, often losing sight of the One who led me, even though He sometimes blazed like a pillar of fire or blanketed and comforted like a cloud. Still, I went astray, going off along my own paths. At times, I even wanted to return to the slavery that had almost killed me. Yet He always came after me and brought me back, until at last I could see the place He wanted to give me, the place He had promised.

And what a land it is! Once He gave me a clear glimpse of this place, I wanted to be nowhere else. This is where He always intended me to live.

Here He leads me beside still waters and restores my soul. He heals all my diseases and supplies my needs; bread is not scarce, and the water of life transforms deserts. Dead bones rise and dance; water turns into wine. Here He sets the lonely in families and sends angels to walk with pilgrims.

I well know that I do not deserve to be here. Yet Christ helps me shed my filthy rags and wraps me in His righteousness, so that I can now walk before the Lord in the land of the living.

The enemies here are indeed giants, fierce, sly, deceptive. They seek to drag me from this Promised Land or entice me to wander into other countries. Yet He says, ‘Be strong and very courageous. I am always with you.’  When those attacks come against my soul, He renews my strength. He is my help and shield, my Rock of refuge. He frees me from the traps, and He teaches me to defeat my adversaries.

But all of these things, I am still learning. This is a glorious place to live, but I know I’ve only seen a glimpse of its greatness. I still have to learn how to live here fully, but I also know there is no other place I want to be. And so I go on exploring and discovering the Promised Land.

***

And then on New Year’s weekend, I hear the Lord say, It is time to stop denying my power.

Now, that was something of a shock.

Haven’t I been writing about exactly that, the power of God that can work in the lives of His children? Haven’t I encouraged others and yearned myself to believe and trust in God’s power to do anything? Haven’t I told myself, again and again, that His power in me can defeat any enemy who comes against me?

Ah. There’s the point, the thing the Spirit says I must reach for in 2012. I’ve got to take the battle against the enemy to a whole new level.

I am still reading Isaiah 41. On the morning of New Year’s Eve, I read verses 10-16. Here are a few excerpts:

I will strengthen you and help you.
       I will hold you up with my victorious right hand …
For I hold you by your right hand —
    
   I, the LORD your God.
And I say to you,
      
‘Don’t be afraid. I am here to help you.
Though you are a lowly worm …
      
I will help you’ …
You will tear your enemies apart,
       making chaff of mountains.
You will toss them into the air,
       and the wind will blow them all away …

And here’s where the Spirit said, “It’s time to look a little deeper at this business of tearing your enemies apart.”

You see, I’ve always thought of the “enemies of my soul” as the things that “come” against me … things like doubt, discouragement, discontent, influences of the world I live in, arrows of jealousy, envy, and anger. It’s as if the enemy launches an all-out attack against my place of peace and prosperity in the Promised Land.

But what about the enemy who has not attacked the front gates but who has been sitting quietly, immovable as a mountain, in the very middle of my life?

 What about those things that really have no place in the Promised Land, yet since they’ve always been a part of me or of my life, I simply say, “That’s just the way I am,” or “That’s the way it is,” and I, in effect, shrug my shoulders and accept it … and never even consider that God’s power might just possibly make chaff of that mountain.

This is a scary thing, because now I must look closely at things that I’ve allowed to remain in my life just because … well … that’s the way it will always be, right? I am sad to say that there are, indeed, things that I have never prayed about because (Father, forgive me) I have not believed anything would ever change. That’s saying I did not believe God could change things!

Yet He says His power can smash those mountains so that they are blown away by the wind. His power in us can do that!

I am both humbled and I am afraid. I know so little of God’s power. And I have the feeling that there are some big mountains that must be smashed in 2012.

 

***

Sometimes, I am in awe of how God reinforces the things He wants to tell us. If you have just a few more minutes, let me tell you what happened after my encounter with Isaiah 41.

That same morning, I received an email from a friend. It was simply a Scripture prayer for her friends, taken from Ephesians 3:16-21. Here’s some of it, and note what she bolded:

“I pray that out of His Glorious Riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith … Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more that all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be Glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen”

Scripture so familiar, repeated to me once again at just the right time, to remind me of God’s power at work in me … power and love beyond anything I can imagine.

The next morning in church during our open sharing time, one lady took the microphone and said she felt led to pray a blessing over our church. And what do you suppose she prayed?

She read the same passage from Ephesians 3 … that we may be strengthened by His power and begin to understand how high and deep and wide and long is Christ’s love!

Yes. I got the message this weekend. It’s time to quit denying God’s power. Time to smash some mountains.

 

 

*

Thanks to Ethel and Maxine and everyone who prays for these posts.

 

 

4 thoughts on “From Slavery to Battlefields in the Promised Land

  1. Love this post, Elaine! Another scripture that just jumps into my mind when I read this is from chapter 1 in Ephesians, referring to the riches we inherit as children, including “HIS INCOMPARABLY GREAT POWER for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead…”
    hmmmm…the power that raises from the dead…available to ME?????

    • Exactly! How little we know of the power available to us. And the Spirit is beginning to show me that I’ve just been ignoring or dancing around or trying to hide some of those things HE CAN CHANGE! I am denying that power if I don’t acknowledge and meet those things head on.

  2. One more thing…Isaiah 41 became so personal to me a few years ago when Kelley’s health was so fragile, especially verses 10 to 14. But later I went back to the rest of the chapter where He lists miracles He will perform, ” that they may see, and know, and consider, and understand that the hand of the LORD has done this.”
    Since then I have recorded verses that say “that they may see and know that I have done this…” There are many.

    I think my Father knows I need LOTS of reminders.

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