Vibrant backdrops designed to shatter darkness with light
Long before the Taliban existed and the CoronaVirus hit our world, 18th century theologian Matthew Henry wrote, “All human life is war.”
I imagine many of us have felt the reality of this statement over the past few years. We have a real and implacable enemy bent on our destruction. And every mighty move of God seems to trigger an explosion of evil.
Yet, quickly reread the history of our world and you will see, each outburst of evil also unleashes a mighty and beautiful move of God. A movement revealed not by loud displays of power, but rather by silent, yet inspiring and contagious demonstrations of grace and love.
Radiant displays of beauty that reveal our radiant Lord.
This battle, at times, is exhausting. But we must never allow it to become defeatist. Or deceive.
What we are experiencing and witnessing today is not new. Players may change, but wars continue to rage, terrorists rise up, are defeated or supplanted, and new ones take their place. Friends and family betray each other and children experience abuse and neglect, and often, from the very people who were meant to keep them safe.
Surrounded by such ugliness, it’s easy to get caught up in the fray. To allow ugliness to seep into us and then out of us. Adding wound upon wound, brokenness upon brokenness.
But God has infused us with an incredible and unalterable beauty: life, love and light strong enough to break through the darkness that tries to impose itself.
Decades ago our family visited the Grand Canyon and I hiked the Kaibab Trail. Not sure what the trail is like during bloom season, but when I was there it was dry and mostly barren. That’s why every desert flower I’ve seen has had such an impact. The colors were so vibrant against the landscape of brown. Each attracted me, and I was intrigued by the tenacity with which it grew.
The tenacity that allowed the seed that became this flower to grow while other seeds lay dead in the dry ground and other emerging plants withered in the relentless heat.
As I think back to every sign of life I have encountered, I feel God asking me, “Who will you be? The seed that never grew. Who slumbered, engulfed, lifeless by his surroundings? The flower that grows for a moment, maybe a day or a week, but then allows the harsh realities around it to destroy the sweet aroma I created it to produce? »
Who will claim the victory of my life, my enemy who wants my destruction, or the God who died for me to live?
And I’m not talking about salvation here. I guess most of you reading this belong to Christ. That you have accepted His gift of spiritual life, but that does not mean that you are living in the victory of it.
Do you believe the lies that say you are helpless, ineffectual, unimportant and beleaguered?
As I said before, with every miraculous move of God, our world experiences a countermovement of evil. Consider all that happened after Christ’s death. In an instant, the church was born and division and social hierarchies were broken down as the gospel united people of all nations. (Acts 2:1-41) Shortly thereafter, however, a wave of persecution struck. And for some, that may have seemed like the end. Their desperate situation.
But just as life ignites our enemy to attack us with death, his attacks prompt God to unleash invincible bursts of life. In the first century, he did this by urging his persecuted children to share the gospel in every place to which they had fled.
Dotting the landscape with beauty through His ever-blooming and soul-beautiful children.
Just as He does today, through you and me.
This war we’re in is personal. We are called, empowered and commissioned, which is precisely why we are attacked.
Satan will try to destroy the most beautiful parts of you. The parts of you that radiate the most from Jesus. This gift of compassion that reveals the heart of Him who wept over the hardening, deception, and impending destruction of Jerusalem (Luke 19:41-44), and who wept before raising Lazarus from the dead as well ( John 11:38-44).
A gift meant to radiate a unique and life-changing aspect of Christ, of who he is at the heart of him. A gift that should, in its expression, bring joy, but that Satan will twist to feel burdensome. Or, through the hurtful words of others, diminish by telling yourself that you are defective, too sensitive. That you feel too intensely, prompting you to withdraw and isolate yourself. Hide behind a façade of “strength” and stoicism.
If God has planted leadership skills in you, satan will dull your strength of pride, causing the wounding and division of this gift meant to unite and mobilize the kingdom. Or, again, through the hurtful words of others, telling yourself that you are bossy or prideful. Maybe too strong. To urge you to hold your tongue, keep your head down, and “go with the flow” even when you know things are headed for a deadly cascade.
In short, satan will try to get us to fight against each other and against ourselves. Become self-obsessed, easily offended and defensive, rather than leaning deeper into Christ and His love.
But we know our enemy’s tactics. We have an entire book recording his vain attempts, and they are indeed vain, because our playbook assures us that Christ has already won. He broke the power of death and replaced it with vibrant, beautiful life.
And He works, day by day and wound by wound, to replace our rubble, the ashes our enemy has created in our lives, with unalterable beauty.
This is why Jesus came. Speaking of our Savior, the prophet Isaiah wrote, “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted; He sent me to heal broken hearts, to proclaim freedom to captives and freedom to prisoners; to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn, to grant to those who mourn in Zion, giving them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a fainting spirit. So shall they be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified” (Isaiah 61:1-3, NASB).
This is what God did through Jesus. He turned our mourning into a dance, swept away the ashes and rubble of our sin and the sins of created others, and gave us a Spirit of strength, joy, and praise.
Now He invites you and me to experience this. Be part of the mighty movement of God that will rise, and is rising now, against the onslaught of evil in our world. And not by ugliness and arguments but, by our words and actions, by sowing flower seeds wherever we go and sinking our roots deep into Him who nourishes and refreshes our souls.
Consider, what is one way God wants you to shine light into your world, your sphere of influence and contact, today?
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Jennifer Slatery is a writer and lecturer who hosts the faith over fear Podcast. She spoke to women’s groups, Bible studies and writers across the country. She is the author of Building a Family and many other titles and maintains a devotional blog at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.com.
As the founder of Wholly Loved Ministries, she is passionate about helping women experience the freedom of Christ in all areas of their lives. Visit her online to learn more about her speech or to book her for your next women’s event and sign up for her free quarterly newsletter HERE and be sure to connect with her on Facebook and Instagram.
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