Behind the scenes

Everybody wants to talk about the front of the painting. You know, the canvas, the place where the paint was applied, where the artist’s talent (or lack thereof) is prominently displayed? But you know what? There’s a part that is rarely noticed — perhaps even the most important thing of all. The hanger. It holds ...

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Everybody wants to talk about the front of the painting. You know, the canvas, the place where the paint was applied, where the artist’s talent (or lack thereof) is prominently displayed? But you know what? There’s a part that is rarely noticed — perhaps even the most important thing of all. The hanger. It holds the painting up, keeps it safe from harm, and positions it right where it belongs. 133828149

As long as Moses held up the staff in his hand, the Israelites had the advantage. But whenever he dropped his hand, the Amalekites gained the advantage. Moses’ arms soon became so tired he could no longer hold them up. So Aaron and Hur found a stone for him to sit on. Then they stood on each side of Moses, holding up his hands. So his hands held steady until sunset. As a result, Joshua overwhelmed the army of Amalek in battle. Exodus 17:11-13, NLT

Sometimes I have a hard time translating lessons from the Old Testament into my daily life. But not this one.

Because I’ve failed. I’ve fallen. I’ve been weary and heartbroken. Full of grief, overwhelmed with anger and outrage, unable to hold my arms up for another single minute.

I’m grateful beyond words that I didn’t have to go through that all by myself. That I’m not walking this earth all alone. That I have my own Aaron and Hur.

See, when Moses’ strength gave out, his people started to be overcome. He needed help. The beauty of this story is that, when the battle was over, it wasn’t just Aaron’s victory. Ultimately, of course, God Himself brought the victory. But the ones who held up Aaron’s arms shared in it with him.

friends

When you see someone start to give out, when their faith is wavering, hope is being crushed, weariness is prevailing, the battle isn’t going their way — just reach out, lifting their hands to the sky. To the One who lifts us. To the One who holds us up. To the One who makes everything possible, no matter how discouraging the battle looks at that moment.

Because the most important thing about a pretty surface is whether there’s something holding it up so that the world can see.

The Bait of Satan

a pseudo book review Not long ago, I wrote about my unlikely stumbling block. You may have met Him. His name is Jesus. In Luke chapter 7, after Jesus says, “The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is ...

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a pseudo book review

Not long ago, I wrote about my unlikely stumbling block. You may have met Him. His name is Jesus. In Luke chapter 7, after Jesus says, “The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor,” He finishes with this statement: “Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.” 31t2+ZycnwL

Oh, how I stumbled. When Mom died and I didn’t much care for the way God had chosen to answer our prayers, I built walls to protect myself from being hurt again. I held my hand in the air at church — not to worship but to keep Him at a distance. Then one morning, shortly after writing that essay, I was reading The Bait of Satan: Living Free from the Deadly Trap of Offense by John Bevere. It’s about the spirit of offense, and how that can destroy friendships, marriages, churches — any kind of relationship. Sadly, I already knew that firsthand. John Bevere wrote about those walls I built to protect myself — and about how, in the end, these walls instead imprisoned me, holding me captive.

Later that day, I bowed my head for a quick prayer as I sat down to write, and I felt God’s presence all around me. I had no words, just silent tears and a sense that I was to sit and wait while He demolished those walls, stone by stone. I picked up my Bible, hoping He would nudge me towards a verse that was just for me, just right for that moment. I immediately thought of Jeremiah 29:12. I resisted the urge to turn there — I already knew that verse. Finally, in the absence of any other direction, I stopped fighting and opened my Bible. I figured I would start there and then move on to wherever God would take me.

Hey, guess what? I was wrong. The verse I thought I knew was verse 11:

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Turns out, verse 12 was exactly where His message for me began:

“Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”

Back from captivity. Back to the place from which I started. Now that I can seek Him again with all my heart, I will find Him. I did. I have. The human side of me feels shame for my lack of faith, my immature feelings, the way I turned from Him in my stubborn anger. But it’s that upside down thing again — I thank God for my lack of faith, immature feelings and the way I turned from Him, because nothing is sweeter than finding again something I thought was lost forever.

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