"For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world.  And this is the victory that has overcome the world -- our faith.  Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?"

Frailian sat near the fire to grasp any bit of warmth that she could.  The wind was howling and the coldness swirled and danced outside.  She shivered but not from the cold.  The night had come and with it the shadows that seemed to plague her mind and control her body.  There were shadows everywhere and her peripheral vision seemed to play a nasty trick as the shadows moved and became the monsters that she knew were lurking in the corners of the room.

She can't remember when the shadows came.  And Frailian couldn't remember the last time she wasn't afraid.  The daylight was a relief but even with the sun shining there were shadows somewhere.  So Frailian was afraid of the day and of the night.  The night was a particular torment to her because the monsters would come in packs ready to devour her very being.  The poor girl had lost so much sleep in the years past and this showed on her face.  Gaunt, ringlet eyes that seemed to be hollow with no glint of life.

There was a self-loathing in her heart.  Her weakness disqualified her from being a warrior.  Warriors were brave and fearsome, ready to fight and conquer any monster.   Her twin brother, Bravadin,  was a warrior and so different from herself.  He had a zest for life that was infectious.  That is why, at an early age, Bravadin went off to fight in the great battle with his father.    Now, the girl was all alone to fight the monsters.  This, of course, wasn't entirely true.  But when all you see are the monsters in the shadows even those who want to help and have tried to help are non-existent.

When they were young the twins were inseparable.  The monsters would still come but Bravadin always fought them off.  Frailian, even though scared at times, felt safe and secure.  How she longed for years gone by because  she would remember the sound of Bravadin's laugh.   There wasn't and hadn't been laughter for a long time.  She was lost in a world of torment where there is no room for even a smile.  Even still those moments long past with her courageous brother were a special place that she would go to when her battles were fiercest.  Frailian never realized that she was a warrior in her own right.  Her thought was that warriors were never afraid.  Sadly, she was shamed by her fear and this caused a sense of disqualification.  This didn't stop the panic that came with fear mounting up each time the monsters appeared.  Her flesh would seemingly turn to stone.

Honora was the girl's mother who stood by helplessly.  So many times she had tried to help but as the years went by determination turned into despair as she watched the daughter she loved struggle against the evil that plagued her.  Honora had her own monsters that she battled.  Worry and anxiety over so many things came at her like a humid evening wind, ready to pull every inch of life from her.  Too many troubles, really, to fight on her own and then multiplied with the monsters that she fought on her daughter's behalf would bring her to her knees.  There Honora would stay, partly because she was so tired and partly, mostly, because that is where she met the Master Commander.  There were many times that she, too, felt alone.  So incessant were her feelings that over time she had learned not to trust them.  The aged mother knew for certain that He was with her and this gave her the ability to face another day and, at the right time, to face the next moment.   Honora was like the women of old who not only tended the hearth but wielded the sword to fight and defend those she loved.  There were wounds too many to count.  Some that had healed but others that were just scarred over and tender underneath.   It didn't matter though because here she stood between her daughter and the monsters fighting another day for hope.

Frailian had no idea of the battle her mother was fighting for her.  It was as if her mother were invisible because the monsters were so real and so big.  There were moments, however, that seemed like a dream.  Frailian would see her mother, stooped over on her knees and weeping.  In that moment a strong figure would be there instantly and would scoop her mother up in His large arms and hold her tight.  All at once the room would seem warm and something like strength would be transferred to her mother.  Just as quickly as it came it was gone.  The room was dark again and Frailian was alone.  No mother, no strong figure, only the darkness and the shadowy monsters.

Could the dream be real?  Was there a Someone so strong that could scoop her up in His large arms?  What comfort could be found!  What security and what strength!  Then she, too, could be a warrior.  Even if the monsters never went away their power would be of no consequence to Someone so commanding.  Frailian knew this is what she needed.  There had been times, many times, that she thought she heard a whisper.  Or was it a song?  Just like the dream that she would imagine it would come to her.  Sometimes she could almost understand the words.  Always she felt a meaning, some kind of stirring within her.

Morning came and with it a glint of sun shining through the window.  It had rained the night before and as the sun came through the window it sparkled with the drops of late night moisture.  The light through the droplets looked like diamonds glistening on the glass pane.  They beckoned to Frailian to draw nearer and nearer still. Whispers, calling to her saying, "I am the Light, behold the Truth, come this Way."  So, she followed.  With each step the glistening came closer.  And as she drew near the light permeated her body so that she became illumined from inside.  Frailian felt warm  from the tip of her head all the way down to her toes.  A strangeness of courage started to rise up until it was if she were taller, larger.  Back in the corner of the house she could hear the monster screaming as if in pain.  Strangely enough this didn't scare her.  In the place of fear was anger and she turned on the monsters with vengeance.  "No longer will you torment me," she cried.  And then as naturally as if she had done it before the song came to her and she couldn't help but sing aloud the words, "Arise my soul,  shake off your guilt.  Arise my soul, no longer fear. . ." As she sang the dance came filling her with a joy beyond imagination.

The horse pulled against the plow that was digging into the dirt.  Honora had been plowing in the south field all morning and the muscles in her body bore witness to the strain.  She heard the song before she saw her daughter.  The song that Honora sang every night to a daughter who could neither hear or see her.  As the weary mother looked up from the plow she saw the sight that she had been longing and praying for such a long time.  As she watched her daughter dance for joy moisture came her eyes.  Just like the glistening moisture of diamond looking drops that had called to Frailian.  Tears of joy for hope fulfilled.  So full was Honora's heart that she stood transfixed on the scene.   Now she could feel the victory cry of the battle.  For this had been her battle and where the Master Commander had stationed her.   "Stay and fight for her," said the Master Commander.  "It will be a fierce battle but know that I have gone before you and have fought for you".  So Honora had pledged her life to this and would have gone down fighting to her last breath.  Oh, but what a sweet victory!  To see the youngest of her many beloveds hearing the song and partaking in the dance.   Finally, they saw each other.  The distance between the two was covered in a matter of seconds.  This was one of the happiest moments ever!

In the shadows of the house the monsters withered in pain.  They had lost a strategic battle and they would have to regroup.  The superiors would not be happy and they knew there was hell to pay.  This only added to the pain they were already suffering because of the loss.  "We will just have to fight harder" they said to each other all the while knowing that the major battle had been lost.

"And though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us,
we will not fear for God hath willed his truth triumph through us.
The prince of darkness grim, we tremble not for him; 
his rage we can endure, for lo! his doom is sure;
one little word shall fell him."*

And as the monsters cried out in defeat the armies of the MC raised their voices in triumph knowing that another warrior had come home.

May you find peace in the knowledge of your Savior going before you.  At the same time may you find courage to face the particular battle you are facing at this very moment.  Pick up the implements of war that God has given you and turn your face to the gathering storm.

"May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light."       ~ Colossians 1:11-12

*A Mighty Fortress Is Our God, Martin Luther, v. 3, based on Psalm 46


Walking on Water

"Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water".   He said, "Come."  So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus."                                   ~ Matthew 14:28-29

This is astounding and yet so many times I read over it like was yesterday's to do list.  What would it be like to walk on water?  I can't even comprehend it because it defies the laws of this natural world.   I read about it in the Bible and I believe the Bible.   So it seems like I believe in contradictions.

Peter must have been an interesting man at best.  He is the one that we admire and are disappointed in all at the same time.  He reminds us of someone.  Who could that be?  Oh yeah ~ ourselves.  One minute we can be defending the Savior to the death.  The next minute we are cowering in fear to the pain.  I would imagine that Peter's personality was one of great highs and deep lows.  And yet,  Peter walked on water.   Of course, one has to keep reading to see that as soon as Peter took his eyes off Jesus, he sank and almost drowned.   Double meaning?

When we consider the impossibilities of our lives we have a couple of choices.  As I look back on mine I realize that sometimes I have drowned in the wake and given in to the death of my own capabilities.  I have not kept my eyes on Jesus and dreamt of the impossible. I know that there is a whole world out there that I don't see and have a hard time comprehending.  Walking by faith and not by sight can be a scary business because we are so oriented to the senses.  But, what if we would keep our eyes on Jesus and the eternal and see through those lenses.  I submit that the possibilities, which we have assumed were impossibilities, are endless.  I am not suggesting that you go out and try to walk on water.  But the thought that comes to my mind is that there are things happening in this world that we don't see but if we could we would be amazed.

Where is the Holy Spirit working?  If you had the eyes and heart to see it what would be your response and how would you act?  Paul Miller, in his book A Loving Life (I have not read this book but got this quote from a review of the book) said this, "But if an unseen hand is shaping the day, then the day becomes an adventure."  Our ordinary lives are an adventure!  I'm not talking about being extra biblical.  Our lives must always line up with scripture.  But I am suggesting that there is more to life than meets the eyes.

I wonder if in our gospel saturated culture we haven't become accustomed to His grace.  Yeah, yeah it's wonderful, astounding and marvelous.  Do you remember when you were first saved and the awesomeness of it all.   What do you suppose it looks like to be a mature Christian with a child-like faith?  Don't you just want that?  I want to be smart with the knowledge of the Holy One and walk in the realm of the Holy Spirit.  It is a tall order, I know.  But I am willing to spend the rest of my life working towards the goal.

The wonderful thing in all of this is that it doesn't matter who you are in this world.  This Spirit calls us to follow His leading whether you are great in the eyes of society/culture or seemingly unnoticed.  We have work to do ~ spiritual work that honors our God.  Spiritual work doesn't just mean work for the church but whatever your hand finds to do.  We can be outstanding even when no one is watching because He is watching and being pleased by our efforts.  Live life fully right where you are.  You might not be the one who changes the world but you might be that someone who changes one person's world.  And in the process our world changes and becomes bigger than who we are.

I was reading in Carolyn McCulley and Nora Shank's new book The Measure of Success last night about the wife of Martin Luther, Kathryn Von Bora.  I don't think she went out to change the world but in what God gave her to do it did change the world.  Her life centered around ordinary tasks just so that the Luthers could survive.  I find this fascinating understanding that there are unseen forces working in and amongst the natural everyday life.  And then today we were listening to Garth Brooks (there is nothing like a little Garth to clean house too) and one of the songs caught my ear in light of what I have been thinking.  Here are some of the lyrics:

"Too many times we stand aside

Let the waters slip away
'Til what we put off 'til tomorrow
Has now become today
So don't you sit upon the shoreline
And say you're satisfied
Choose to chance the rapids
And dare to dance the tide."

Seize the moment.  Listen for Holy Spirit possibilities.  Keep your eyes on Jesus.  Then finish the race with worn out shoes and broken down bodies.

"But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere.  For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance of death to death, to the other a fragrance of life to life."      ~ 2 Corinthians 2:14-16