Battle Call

signboard informing unavailability of sanitizers

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Battle Call

“For our struggle is not against human opponents, but against rulers, authorities, cosmic powers in the darkness around us, and evil spiritual forces in the heavenly realm.” – Ephesians 6

Two days ago, we listened to the press conference from the COVID-19 task force leaders in America on whitehouse.gov

It was said that the threat we face is invisible. 

This virus is invisible, the spread is invisible, and I can think of a few other invisible things this pandemic is spreading.

I watched the hoarding unfold, the greed of many trying to use this for their own pocketbook, and witnessed the fear wrap its spindly fingers around many people hearts with each news cast…

Please know i am NOT writing this in judgement. 

Apparently, many of us are about one roll of toilet paper away from losing our common decency. 

However, I AM writing this because I know there is a better Way.

Proverbs 4: 23

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”

The invisible enemy has indeed come to steal, kill and destroy. 

We’ve witnessed the havoc, chaos, depletion of decency. 

And yet, there is an invisible force  and a Way that has more power than the all the powers of darkness.

And it is very real.

Some people think that God is invisible.

Or they ask, “How do we know He’s here. Does he even care what’s going on?”

Answer: He cares more than you can even fathom.

The threats man has been facing since the beginning were invisible. 

And God knows us so well that He knew we’d need to see it to believe it.

So He sent us His Son.

The invisible made visible in Jesus Christ.

John 3:16

I read this story recently in Mark chapter 2 and feel it is so pertinent to right now. Jesus is having dinner with some tax collectors and “sinners” while the religious authorities are wondering why he’s doing this.—“When Jesus heard this, he told them, ‘Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.’”

Have you heard the call?

The following is summarized advice from the WHO (World Health Organization) Director General for individuals during this crisis—He emphasizes that keeping in good physical and mental health is needed to help fight against COVID-19 if you get it:

First: eat a healthy and nutritious diet

Second: limit alcohol and avoid sugary drinks

Third: Don’t smoke

Fourth: Exercise (keeping a safe distance from others)

Fifth: look after your mental health (reach out, check on neighbors, family, etc) – He stated, “Compassion is a medicine.” Get info from reliable sources

Work together as one humanity

Good advice. 

But shouldn’t we already be doing these things?

The difference, I suppose, is that people are finally, actually listening and obeying.

Our external health is important. 

But no amount of antimicrobial soap and hand sanitizer can cleanse the heart.

Jesus came to call the sick. He came to call those who knew their hearts needed cleansing. He came to tell and live out stories of kindness; to be an example of mercy, of forgiveness, and of how to live a life of love. 

Jesus, God made visible, real; and yet he forces no one to listen to his call. He offers it freely to ALL and allows us each the chance to respond. The opportunity to cleanse our hearts by accepting the redemptive grace of a God who will not rest until everyone has the chance to hear and the option to bow and to confess freely.

And that’s not all. When He ascended to heaven, he left us the gift of His Holy Spirit.  A Spirit that lives within those of us who choose to hear his call and accept His gift of grace. 

A Spirit that will light our way, counsel us, heal us, protect us, guide us. A Spirit that communicates on our behalf and will never leave us or forsake us.

An ever present Helper in times of trouble.

It is He who who cleanses us from the inside out. 

Psalm 51:7 (THE MESSAGE)

Soak me in your laundry and I’ll come out clean,

scrub me and I’ll have a snow-white life.

Tune me in to foot-tapping songs,

set these once-broken bones to dancing.

Don’t look too close for blemishes,

give me a clean bill of health.

God, make a fresh start in me,

shape a Genesis week from the chaos of my life.

Don’t throw me out with the trash,

or fail to breathe holiness in me.

Bring me back from gray exile,

put a fresh wind in my sails!

Doesn’t that sound like good news? 

I guess the questions is:

Are you listening?

This is gonna hurt like…

Love to run two

THIS IS GONNA HURT…

“Hold on…Hold on to yourself. For this is gonna hurt like hell.”–Sarah Mclachlan

Two things you should know about me:

I LOVE to RUN

My day isn’t quite right if I miss out on my daily run. My thinking is foggy. My heart doesn’t beat as strong. My legs don’t hold me as upright. And if something comes to knock me out of balance, it is much easier to do when I haven’t had my run for the day.

And

I LOVE JESUS

I desire to live a life honoring God. I try to reflect the love of Jesus in what I do, how I live, how I treat others and in my heart. If I miss out on my time with the Lord, my thinking is foggy, my heart is weak, my walk is not upright and I am very easily knocked out of balance.

These two things are so entwined, interlocked and ingrained in the fibers of my life. My running time is often my time with the Lord; it is when I pray, seek and ask.  My time with the Lord is what keeps me running in this race of life.

“I’m not sick. I’m not sick. I’m not sick.”

It was the start of my weekend and I had lots of plans. I breathed deep and felt the gravelly, wheezy heaviness in my chest. I cleared my throat and began my mantra again, “I’m not sick. I’m not sick. I’m not sick.”

And as my weekend of denial progressed, the coughing began; the inability to breathe through the heaviness in my chest ended my restful nights and …

I got sick.

I hate getting sick because I know if I get out of my running regimen beyond two weeks, I have to start all over re-activating my cardio level, opening my lungs’ passageways and rebuilding atrophied muscles. The months of hard work, hills, interval training and hours pounding the pavement and in two short weeks of illness it’s flushed down the toilet.

So I fought it. Besides quoting my mantra of “not being sick,” I pushed through to keep my lungs open; I jogged, hiked and walked.

I got sicker.

It’s going around.

If you haven’t gotten it, you probably will. Your co-workers, friends and the seemingly harmless (yet, sneezing) 67 year old lady in seat 14D will ensure your immune system gets to partake in this.

Bedridden and nursing myself back with rest and fluids, I had to let go and realized a few things–

Coming back from illness is tough. Regaining wholeness and health is always an ongoing journey, and the next time I strapped on my running shoes—

–it was going to hurt like hell.

 

We live in a world steeped with sickness.

Sin, like an infection, is rampant in our world. If you are free from it now, you will catch it sooner or later. (We all fall short and we all will fall ill). And, if you are healthy, upright and steadfast, you will still teeter toward temptation. Worldly illnesses like selfishness, lying, envy, pride, hatred, bitterness, anger are just a few of the beastly infections we will face.

So how do you prepare? How do you fight them off? Even Olympic trained runners end up injured, even the healthiest of us will end up falling ill from time to time.

If we take a lesson from our bodies; we have to let go, we have to take time to rest, and we must realize we need help at times from a source other than ourselves.

Jesus, The Great Physician, came to heal the sick.

On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Mark 2:17)

If it’s a deep rooted illness–(an on-going addiction, a dangerous dance with drugs, a penchant toward pornography,) or whatever your struggle is–STOP.

Continuing on in that same sick (sinful) direction brings worse repercussions. It will lengthen your “illness.” By not allowing grace into those broken places in our lives, we stretch out our pain and suffering.

Quit doing what you are doing.

To repent simply means to turn…So turn around–Let the HEALER examine your heart and prepare your spirit, cause this is gonna hurt like…

“I came to realize that spirit, as much or more than physical conditioning, had to be stored up before a race.”-Herb Elliott, Olympic champion and world record holder in the mile.

As my physical condition was deteriorating, I built upon my spiritual conditioning.

What I desire is the freedom to breathe in the forgiveness, the hope of redemption and the power of Christ. His mercy through our “illnesses” allows a new direction. This turning and allowing a Healer’s guidance brings new strength to face the path set out before us.

 

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:2-4)

 

As I strap back on my running shoes, I take a deep breath. All that sitting, resting and re-hydrating as I was recovering will make my next few weeks tougher to push through what has built up in my lungs, my heart and my body. But I press on, because I know health and wholeness can be obtained again. My Healer will reward my repentance. My Healer will help me push through difficulties and rebuild me for the next time.

And I am assured that there will be a next time. –

“In this world you will have trouble.” (John 16:33)

So, as I continue in His direction, running this race, I know I will be more prepared to handle stumbling blocks and more able to battle future illnesses. I awaken my vision so I may know where to turn around when I get lost, and I find my hope in knowing that there is nothing in this world that  can come against me that, with the power of Christ in me, I cannot face.

May you be encouraged as you run your race.

“I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead. I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.”  (Philippians 3:14)

 

May you find renewed strength as you face your own obstacles and illness and, may you always find rest and healing on your journey.