Arise

Over the last few years there has been one message that has rung in my ears like church bells echoing on a Sunday morning across the city.

Get up. Arise.

Like get up out of bed? Off the couch?

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Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

Yes..and no. If sitting on the comfy leather couch has been your posture since – well you can’t remember when – then yes it’s time to get up and at least go for a walk. What I’m talking about is more spiritual than physical but can be both. 

I’ve been laying low spiritually for some time which I don’t think is a sin. There are seasons for everything and sometimes an Off season is exactly what the doctor ordered.

This was different. I felt like a dog who’d been kicked one too many times and was staying in the corner, licking his wounds. Then I stayed there in defeat, in disbelief and in doubt. 

I believe God allowed me to sit there. He knew I needed to rest physically, emotionally and spiritually. He knew I needed time to wrestle through a few things – and accept that I might not get any answers. 

But the longer I ruminated, the more the fear, the hate, and the resentment took hold and instead of working through my issues, I quit. I isolated myself because I didn’t really trust anyone anymore. I’m not lying when I say I’ve been practicing social distancing for many years now. Way before the edict came to stay six feet apart, I would cross the road to avoid contact with other pedestrians. I’m not kidding.

I was done – with everything and everyone. If I didn’t engage then I couldn’t be hurt. If I didn’t try – I couldn’t fail. So I stayed down because it was far easier than standing and fighting.

Ironically I’d read a novel about five years ago that had this epic scene where the heroine was down for the count but she was the only one who could save her kingdom. As she lay on the ground, the people who cared for her came to her in a sort of dream, calling her to get up and fight. That scene has stayed with me all these years. I researched similar callings in the bible because as I’d read this novel by Sarah J. Maas, I knew God was using it to speak to me.

It would be great to say I obeyed and got up. But this is real life and it’s been a challenge because it’s so much easier to stay down. Satan is purposeful about making it that way.  He’s thrown every excuse at me to justify why I don’t have to arise.

But the call of God is louder than Satan’s. Over the last few months and now as we shelter in place, His call is like those church bells – ringing across the miles from heaven to earth. 

It’s time to get up.

What does God want me to learn in all this? What does he want the church to learn? What does he want communities to learn? The world? The planet? 

I don’t know but if I stay sitting in that corner in defeat then I’ll never find out. Its time to get off the couch, out of the corner, and show up. 

I don’t know what getting up means for you because it’s different for all of us. Our stories are unique and God deals with each of us in an individual way.

Some of you are already up and at it so keep going! Bravo!

For some of us it might mean using this time to reconnect with our spouse, our kids or other friends and family. Those relationships are worth fighting for.

It might mean reconnecting with God or investigating who he is. Establishing a real friendship with Him – He created us for a relationship with Him first and foremost.

Maybe it’s joining some of the awesome services on Sundays or getting outside if you can at this time and soak in His creation. Capture nature’s beauty with our cameras instead of selfies.

It might mean letting your soul breathe after a busy season. Which seems contrary but you can’t get up if you’re burned out. 

Perhaps it means getting on your knees and praying for this world, for our health care workers, our government, the sick, and the church. All these people have families that stand behind them so pray for them too.

This time is a gift and God is calling us to use it – however that looks in your life.

It’s spring which I don’t think is a coincidence. Spring represents a time of renewal and rebirth. It’s a great time to arise.

Arise, Jerusalem! Let your light shine for all to see. For the glory of the LORD rises to shine on you. Darkness as black as night covers all the nations of the earth, but the glory of the LORD rises and appears over you.  Isaiah 60:1-2

Doubting Trust

Today’s headlines read from some action movie or sci-fi novel don’t they? Pandemic. That word used to cause the blood running through my veins to turn to ice and just the thought rendered me anxious. Dread and fear paralyzed me. There wasn’t enough money to pay me to watch a movie about it. But today in 2020 when the WHO has announced one, I am not panicked; there is fear but it’s not overwhelming. I’m amazed by this!

Am I concerned and taking precautions? Yes. As a person with an underlying medical condition (diabetes) I need to be careful. A decade ago I would have spiralled down a tunnel of fear. What’s changed?

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I know the work I’ve done to become more emotionally healthy plays a part. Combine it with the challenges of the last five or six years and my anxious edges have been smoothed out. Not gone but not as rough as they once were. The past year and a half my husband has been unemployed. Only recently did he accept a part-time contract position until June and after that the future remains one big question mark. 

Many doubts and questions have rolled around in my head the last few years. Why? Where did we/I go wrong? There are no answers and that made me feel abandoned by the God that we have spent a lifetime serving. Perhaps you’re feeling that way in these challenging and frightening times. Where is God in times of trouble? 

Sometimes He reveals Himself and other times He chooses to remain unseen. It doesn’t mean He’s not here. Its taken me too long to figure this out. The lesson was emphasized again last night when we were reading about Job and my son asked some hard questions. 

I stepped back and let my husband take the wheel on that one, being the pastor and all.  Panic flared in my chest because I didn’t have any answers for my son. Instead I was asking the same questions. Mark reminded us about trust. It’s not that we can’t question God – He can handle our questions and anger – but at some point we have to trust Him. It reminded me of Barnabas Piper’s book, Help My Unbelief, that I read a few years ago. Piper writes about mysteries and how some of those are going to remain unsolved this side of heaven. As Jesus Followers we have to learn how to accept that. To trust that God is bigger and knows better than any of us. Isaiah 55:9 says “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” There are times when those verses are comforting and other times when I don’t want to hear that. 

Piper writes, “Scripture doesn’t offer the answers to most mysteries that we want. It offers the ones God wants us to have…This is not an easy truth because it does not feel satisfying.” p. 75-76

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It’s true right? We have no idea why this sickness is spreading like wildfire across the globe. There are no answers for why one person gets cancer and another does not. We don’t always understand why a loved one walks away or no matter how hard we try, debt hangs over our heads like an anvil about to fall. Why do natural disasters affect some cities and not others? Why does it seem that some people just continue to get kicked when they are already down and out? 

I don’t know. And God isn’t saying much either.

In these years of uncertainty, I’ve learned that God is in control. Even when I try to yank it away from Him, turn my back on Him and scream at Him. He is in control of every second, every minute, of every day. Even if I don’t like what He’s doing. Even when I doubt what He’s doing. Maybe it’s taken a pandemic for me to realize that amidst all the questions, I still trust Him. I trust Him to carry us through these challenging and extreme times. Sounds like an oxymoron doesn’t it? 

Piper writes;

His steadfast love endures through all mystery; no matter how much the questions eat at us, His steadfast love endures forever. It endures through all pain…” p.77

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I don’t understand but I know that God’s love and care have been steadfast. I got part-time work just before Mark became unemployed after years of fruitless attempts. Did it solve all the problems? No but its evidence of God working in our lives and that He wasn’t surprised by a job loss. His kindness has been evident as I’ve struggled with my many questions, anger and doubt. He has patiently waited at the end of the driveway for me to return home. Our needs are met. He has not left the premises although many times I have accused him of doing so. His love has been enduring and everlasting. In the good and the bad. 

Why is God letting this happen? I don’t know. We may never know but the one thing I believe is He is with us and He is in control. He love is enduring and steadfast. That’s why I am not freaking out in 2020. I hope you find comfort in His Word and presence in these days ahead.

Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. They are brought to their knees and fall, but we rise up and stand firm.     Psalm 20:7-8 (emphasis mine)

Author’s note: God also gave us sound minds; so use the one He gave you and make wise decisions. This is not a blog about being reckless or disobeying what those in authority are telling us is the best thing to do.