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?

Magic Wrinkle Remover!

It is 82 degrees outside in sunny Scottsdale, Arizona. Bet you can’t guess what I am doing?
Ironing. (Okay, AND writing about it!) 😉

If you know me at all, put down the phone and stop dialing 9-1-1. I have not been abducted by aliens. Yet, I am ironing. I’ve not ironed in three years. And three years ago, I picked up an iron in a gesture of utter sacrifice and ironed my husband’s shirt because he was running late.

(Note: he hasn’t asked me to iron anything again?!)

Before that, it was easily ten years since I held an iron in my hands!
I don’t buy stuff that needs ironing, even if it is on SUPER DUPER SALE. I dislike spending any of my time on this household chore. –I’d rather be at a weeklong convention about taxes! And, again, if you know me (or see me out!)-it shows that I don’t iron. I’m just not any good at it.

But this weekend I cleaned out my closet. The rules were:

DONATE THE ITEM IF IT MEETS THESE THREE FACTORS:
1) It’s not been worn in over a year
2) It’s too small (my darn dryer keeps shrinking all my clothes!) 😉
3) It’s too old and outdated

So I dug in.

Buried in the way back of the closet by the old cowboy boots, yoga bag and warm fuzzy robe, I found not only an iron but also the ironing board I bought at Good Will for $4.98 fifteen years ago! And as I went through every clothing item, subjecting them to the above Three Factors, I came across three things that put me in a quandary: a pair of Columbia khakis, a periwinkle blue pixie skirt and a cap sleeved silver blouse. All three items didn’t meet the above criteria—they were all things I truly wear, are nearly new, and that still actually fit me. I was tempted to donate them solely because they needed ironing.  But I haven’t used the iron and ironing board…Maybe those two things should go?? 😉

iron stuff

Yet, since I’ve inherited issues with discarding things of value (just read my Blog post “Are YOU a boxaholic!”)– I am spending my “sunshine time” IRONING my three salvaged items.

Do they even know how very close they came to being tossed out along with the old wool sweater and acid wash blue jeans?

I know these items don’t appreciate the magnitude of the sacrifice I am making on this glorious spring day. But, I do know the value of having freshly ironed clothes (even if I didn’t appreciate it “way back when!”) My mother sacrificed many a day for my sister and me in this household task that she is extremely skilled in. She spent days, MONTHS realistically, in the room actually designated the “Ironing Room.” She had a process she followed (still does!), all the tools at hand, and support items to transform the wrinkled, worn items. When she was done with her magic, she transformed clothes into beautiful, creases-only-in-all-the-right-places, almost BRAND NEW looking outfits. Growing up, teachers even commented on my freshly pressed clothing! (That NEVER happened in college when I was doing my own laundry–or any time after that!) Yet that truth doesn’t make me change my anti-ironing ways.

Until today.

Two weeks ago when it rained through the weekend, I could’ve done this, but I delayed it until today.

So it is.
I try to somehow channel my mother’s abilities into my hands, this iron and this squirt bottle. I say a little prayer; I breathe deep and press on. 😉

I begin with the most difficult item—the pants. They haven’t been ironed in at least four washes and have lots of pleats and pockets. The spritz, spritz, spritz of the water bottle and the hiss of the iron make me smile as the wrinkles dissipate from the fabric. What powers I yield holding this hot iron!
While I try to focus at not making more creases than I began with, I think this might be how God looks at us. Does He begin His work on us in the hardest parts of our lives?
Hasn’t it been the difficult things of life where I’ve discovered God working on me? And it’s in these very same areas that I’ve felt intense intimacy with a God who loves me just as I am, but also loves me too much to leave me that way. As He skillfully works at the creases and valleys of my life (and each of our lives), He is merciful enough to spritz us with a balm of His cooling grace and forgiveness to protect us as we adapt. Each wrinkle that is lifted away brings us closer to looking the way God already sees us.

Because, as we’re told, in the end, we will all look different.

“That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.” –Ephesians 5:27

As I iron over the fabric, a few stains appear that the wash didn’t quite get out of the pants. –I think this is also like us—the world tends to leave its mark on us from time to time: the scars of our past choices, the sins that so easily entangle, the wounds suffered from living in this fallen, broken world…But as my iron eases over these places, I believe that God knows there will be events in our lives leaving their marks on us.

iron

As I have adapted on this journey, I am equipped my own set of tools to utilize against these blemishes. I will try to remember to try to work on these stains with the aid of some “magic items” before the next wash. Again, in the end of all of these efforts, we will all look different.

Psalm 51:7 “Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.”

As I move onto the delicate fabric of the blouse, I change the temperature of the iron and I ensure a few extra squirts of the bottle to protect it. I think on the times where God’s work in me has been slow and steady, not burning and resulting in immediate change. To have gone from the cursing, partying, wild college girl, to where I am today…These changes took years. And there are still times I fall back into old behavior patterns.– I think again on how God’s work in us is not to harm us, but to make us look different in the end.

I finish my three pieces of ironing and examine them. In my eyes, they hardly look different than when I began. I chuckle a bit at this truth realized in my own journey. Bottom line, this isn’t the end. The efforts made at ironing will have to be made again and again. After the next wash, I will try again with these items, hoping for better results and a few less stains.
And God is faithful in his transformation of us.

The only thing constant in life is change.

God is continually refining each and every one of us along the way. I don’t have it all figured it out, and I probably never will. Yet, as each of us advances in our journey, may you find encouragement in God’s refreshing mercies (which are new every day!) And as He works on your “wrinkles, creases” and difficult areas,  may His grace guide you along, protecting the fabric of who you are, with the goal that, in the end, we will all look brand new!

“Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, 4and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.” And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Revelation 21:4-5