Feb 29, 2012

More than a Conqueror!

More than a conqueror…

I’m pondering that phrase this morning and wondering what this looks like.

It means that I can quit living on starvation rations and start feasting.  It means satisfied instead of craving. It looks like flying on wings of eagles instead of laboring through the sloughs of struggling. It means throwing off the rags of poverty and inhabiting a mansion of promise. It means inheritance. Why feed pigs when a robe and ring await?

More than a conqueror…
It does not mean that life is easy. It does not imply that the fight is over, but it means that there is a promise of victory in the middle of the battle. It means I will not have to give up, give in, or surrender. It also means that going home would be stupid and running away is not an option. It means I can stick out the fight, standing strong, my banner waving clearly.

More than a conqueror
...means that mountains are removable and giants start looking like grasshoppers. 

More than a conqueror!
It gives faith. Faith to take one more breath, one more step, one more leap, climb one more wall, cross one more river, swim one more stroke, run one more stride. It enables me to keep my eyes fixed on the finish line, ignoring distraction and discouragement, throwing of the weights that would cling to me and proclaim, “Is there not a cause?!”

MORE than a conqueror!
...means that I do not fight alone. It means that I have hosts of warriors that come at my cry. No, I do not command an army, but the One who commands all the hosts of Heaven also commands me, and He will never forget one of His own. He allows me to see battle, but He never leaves a man behind.

More than a CONQUEROR!
It means, get on the winning team, stay on the winning team, and be willing to die for the winning team…because in the end, we WIN!

Feb 7, 2012

Ascent To Hope

The crazy thing about despair is how addictive it is. It seems that once we have begun to lose hope, we lose all the will to regain it.

What is it about despair and suffering that intrigues us so? What pulls us into it? It seems it is the Second Law of Thermodynamics that works in our souls - everything digressing over time unless conscious effort is made to reverse the downward spiral. It all usually begins with a failure on our part, or sometimes the failure of someone else that begins to blot out hope. In all honesty, you will often find unforgiveness - either of another or of one's own failure - at the root of all hopelessness. We begin to dwell on the bad things, and forget about the plethora of good that God scattered all over our lives.  If left alone, we will begin to think that despair is all there is. That suffering is our lot. That the grandest plan of God for us is that we learn to accept that life is horrible. Suffering will beget more suffering, despair more despair until our world is so cluttered with arguments and failure and self-pity that no glimmer of hope can seep through. It seems, almost, that we begin to enjoy our misery. Often, in this state, when hope is offered us we reject it.
That is hopelessness.

Granted, there are times of suffering that God leads us through in our lives. There are seasons where we have great need of endurance to face the situations that confront us. There are times when we fail and He corrects us. There are time when others will fail us, and we must learn to forgive anyway. But that, really, is just the point...in times of hardship we MUST fix our eyes on God, the Source of all hope. We must not let go of the expectation that He will fulfill His promise in our lives, otherwise our circumstance will pull us down into despair.
We can walk through suffering and yet hope.

It takes an act of God to restore hope in a heart that has lost it. But restore hope He can and will. Like all things, though, He will not force hope on us.  He will wait for us to ask. Yet His waiting is not passive. Nothing our God does is ever passive. In fact, His waiting is something of a warfare. His heart beats with intense longing, with aching pleas for us to lift our eyes from the rubble of our circumstance into the light of His countenance. Even when we feel we have reached the end of what we can bear, if we could look up we would see our dear Father holding off the forces of hell lest they destroy us. Bearing on His own shoulders the weight that would crush us. Shielding us from the fiercest heat, the raging waters, the wind that would surely destroy us if He was not still the Protector. He pleads with us to let Him reach down His mighty arm to save us, and lift us again to safety.
He waits close by, always, ready to save.

And there, as sun and shield He waits. He waits to give grace and glory. He waits to shower good things, as soon as we wish to accept them. Here, my friends, is where hope and grace intersect. Grace, by definition, is enabling power. When hope is gone and we cannot lift our heads and truly deserve nothing good, God comes to our aid. He takes the frail, wayward being and lifts them above their situation. He sets them in a safe place, and offers them whatever strength they need to regain hope.

As I mentioned before, God is the Fountainhead of all hope. Wherever He is, there is hope...and life...and vision! As long as we are close to Him, we will find that hope is always close. Despair is held at bay by the Presence of the Promise Maker Himself. Sure, trials will come. Battles may rage. Failure may occur. Wounding may even happen. But somehow, all these things seem a little more like an adventure or a challenge rather than a crippling blow when He Himself becomes our hope.