Facing Your Giants

a pseudo book review* *My friend Peggy talks about “nuggets” — the best part of a message, what she takes away from it. My “pseudo book reviews” are just that: the one or two things I will remember, maybe all from one chapter. It may be a particular phrase or thought that changed the way ...

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a pseudo book review*

*My friend Peggy talks about “nuggets” — the best part of a message, what she takes away from it. My “pseudo book reviews” are just that: the one or two things I will remember, maybe all from one chapter. It may be a particular phrase or thought that changed the way I see something, or a quote, or a new take on Scripture. The nuggets are the very best parts. I’d love to hear your take on any of these books, too!

71tEqv6TwXL._SL1500_If you don’t know the story of the Brook Besor in 1 Samuel, it goes something like this. David and his 600 men returned from the war front to find that the Amalekites had destroyed their village, looted it, and taken the women and children. David went to God, who told him to go after them. The men are exhausted, angry, and about to give up. In fact, 200 of them do. When they reach the brook, these soldiers dismount and lie down to rest. Can you imagine — too tired to go after their own families?

I bet you’ve been that weary before. I know I have.

David continued forward with the rest of the men, eventually catching up to the raiding party (with the help of an Egyptian slave they’d left behind) and killing or scaring off the Amalekites, rescuing all the women and children. Every one. Their wives and the ones of the men who were still hanging out at the brook. Probably playing poker. On their way back, victorious, loaded down with loot, David’s men were furious that the other 200 men were lazing around instead of helping, so they decided to keep it all for themselves.

But David wouldn’t hear of it. He gave the men at the brook an out (announcing that they had stayed with the supplies), respecting their weariness and helping them save face. And then they all shared equally in the spoils.

Max Lucado wrote, “Isn’t that what the church is intended to be? A place for soldiers to recover their strength?” And then, “I wonder how many could do the same. Too tired to fight. Too ashamed to complain. While others claim victories, the weary sit in silence. How many sit at Brook Besor?”

It was like neon lights went on, flashing the name of a friend before me. I do some work with this person, and I’d been feeling unusually frustrated at what I saw as her failures. I was feeling particularly self-righteous at that moment. Not only was I working my butt off, but I felt like I was picking up her slack, too. She was the bottleneck in my productivity. For the past few days, I’d really struggled with this situation.

And then I read this:

If you are listed among them, here is what you need to know: it’s okay to rest. Jesus is your David. He fights when you cannot. He goes where you cannot. He’s not angry if you sit….

Brook Besor blesses rest.

Brook Besor also cautions against arrogance. David knew the victory was a gift. Let’s remember the same. Salvation comes like the Egyptian in the desert, a delightful surprise on the path. Unearned. Undeserved. Who are the strong to criticize the tired?

Are you weary? Catch your breath. We need your strength.

Are you strong? Reserve passing judgment on the tired. Odds are, you’ll need to plop down yourself. And when you do, Brook Besor is a good story to know.

The flashing lights in my head (notice this! notice this!) showed me two things:

A) My friend was one of the weary at that time. And it was OK. My job was to respect her, honor her for coming as far as she had, and know that after she rests, she’ll get up and start moving forward again.

And B) Since when did I start thinking of myself as the strong one? I’d been struggling for literally years, weary as all get out, feeling like I couldn’t find my way back to God — and then suddenly, just like that, I found I was there. Back. Walking with Him again. It didn’t look exactly the same as it used to. But He was there again. (Truth be told, He had never left. I just refused to recognize Him for a while.)

Thank You, Lord, for the way you speak, for the way your Word is living and active and penetrates to the very core of my soul. Thank you for defusing my frustration, showing me my errors, and helping me see that I already have everything I long for: You. Beside me. Always. Even on the days (weeks, months, years) when I find myself collapsed on the banks of the Brook Besor.

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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