Girls with Swords, Week 3

For my birthday earlier this month, Lacy bought me a book that I’ve been wanting: The Art of War.  It’s said to be a great book, used by successful entrepreneurs  to improve their skill.  But as I read it during this time while I’m also studying Girls with Swords, I find we can apply it to Christian living, too.

“To all nations war is a great matter.  Upon the army death or life depend: it is the means of the existence or destruction of the State.” Sun Tzu in The Art of War

The existence of God’s Holy nation – Christians from every part of the world – depends on how well each of us prepares for our spiritual battle.   If we stand ready to fight against the spiritual enemies who wage war against us, we will be able to persevere and protect our people from the enemy’s attacks; but if we stay ignorant and in denial of the war around us, Satan will easily overpower us and cause the people of God to stumble and fall away.  War is a great matter, whether we stand in the offense or in the defense; we have to be ready for the battles ahead.

If the world hateth you, ye know that it hath hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love its own: but because ye are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you, A servant is not greater than his lord. If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they kept my word, they will keep yours also. But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me.” John 15:18-21  (ASV)

This week, the Girls with Swords chapter focused on how we might be heroes just like the men and women spoken of in Hebrews 11.  Through faith, we can face the enemy and stand bravely for Christ.  With God as our power, we can be superhuman.

It sounds unbelievable; but don’t be fooled by Satan’s lies against this concept- you really are the hero of your own story.  The moment you chose to be baptized, you became an enemy of Satan, and all the angels in heaven rejoiced (Luke 15:3-10).  If you haven’t chosen baptism yet, then Satan’s legion of demons fight every day to keep you from making the decision of accepting salvation through Christ’s resurrection.  While God wants no man to perish but all to have eternal life through Jesus Christ (John 3:16, 1 Timothy 2:1-6, 2 Peter 3:9), Satan wants quite the opposite. “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16), but Satan wishes that all people shall perish and none have eternal life.

Once you accept your role as hero, whether you perform amazing miracles like the hero Captain Sullinberger of the US Airways flight 1549 or you’re just a forgotten survivor, victim of life’s worst events the way that Chuck Noland was in the movie Castaway, you are a hero in your own story and Satan is trying to bring you – as a Christian – to ruin.

“Reacting does not equal choosing. Fear will drive you to react, but as you become more skillful with the sword, you will choose your response with the intent of honoring your Father – rather than protecting yourself.” -Lisa Bevere, from the Girls with Swords Fencing Manual

The best way to choose your response with an intent of honoring God instead of fearing the enemy is to prepare for the attack and be ready for whatever will happen.  To be ready, we must put on the proper armor so that we will have the protection that God provides us.

“He who does not know the evils of war will not reap advantage thereby. He who is skillful in war does not make a second levy, does not load his supply wagon thrice.”  Sun Tzu, The Art of War

If you don’t spend your time preparing, then the enemy will have an advantage over you and you won’t have enough “supply” -strength, knowledge, and will- to fight back.  On the other hand, if you prepare for war and grow skillful with the provisions that God gives you through Scriptures, then the enemy cannot surprise you with an attack that you didn’t expect.

Ephesians 6:10-18 tells us six articles of protection that we should wear in our fights against Satan.  We should never be found without them, unprepared.  Our enemy is always on the prowl (1 Peter 5:8), and will pounce the moment we set our armor aside for a moment of rest.

Heroes may feel afraid of something, but they trust in their power, whether its the power of their sword, or their own [superhuman] abilities, or something else. In [Christians’] case, God is our power.  -quote from Kat’s fencing manual

God is permitted to do what he wants with me, because I have no idea who I am anymore. I mean, if my ideas have to “be scrapped” before God can place me in his own, then let it be so, because my plans are void almost like a money check when it’s VOID. So Lord, I permit you. -quote from Lacy’s fencing manual

 

Girls With Swords, Week 2

Imagine yourself with a sword newly polished, ready to be brandished in battle, zealous to fight against the demonic enemy.  Your blade fits your skill, compliments your strength and body structure, and is never too weak or causes you weariness. When the enemy sees you coming, he sinks back in dread, because with your quality as a warrior, you stand victor in every campaign. He doesn’t stand a chance.

That’s how you are, when you’ve got the Holy Spirit equipped.

Your warrior quality, your preparedness for battle, is explained more deeply through the Bible. In Matthew 3, we read about John the Baptist, a prophet who was also the cousin of Jesus Christ, put on earth to declare Christ’s entrance into the world; John speaks words of judgment to a group of alleged holy men, priests, saying,

“Even now the ax is on the root of the trees. Every tree that does not give good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. For sure, I baptize with water those who are sorry for their sins and turn from them. The One Who comes after me will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. He is greater than I. I am not good enough to take off His shoes. He comes ready to clean the grain. He will gather the grain in and clean it all. The clean grain He will put into a building. He will burn that which is no good with a fire that cannot be put out.” —–Matthew 3:10-12 (NLV, boldness added)

These priests that came to be baptized by John the Baptist came because it was a phenomenal trend to witness and be part of the prophet’s iconic show, but their hearts were not ready for the Messiah’s coming. Some of these priests may have even aided in the murder of Jesus – I wouldn’t doubt it for a minute. So John warned them judgment was coming. Blade would separate and fire would destroy.

The “One Who comes after me” is Jesus Christ, and Christ has vested us, Christians, with the sacred power of the Holy Spirit, to have, hold, brandish, clash, conquer, defend, rescue, and unite with, in truth.

The truth is given to us by many authors of the Bible. (We use the Bible as our authority because, even after academic study and countless critiques, it has proven to be without error. History backs it up, it backs itself up with eye-witnessing accounts, and no account contradicts the other one.) Jesus gave his disciples the understanding that when the Holy Spirit came, which happened on the Day of Pentecost written about in Acts 2,  the Spirit would teach them, tell them about Jesus, and give them a full understanding of the events that took place in their lives, both past, present, and future. Before the Holy Spirit came to them, they were all very confused and lacking in motivation, but after He came, their lives were transformed. In John 14:15-17, Jesus says,

“If you love me, obey my commands.  I will ask the Father. And he will give you another friend to help you and to be with you forever. That friend is the Spirit of truth. The world can’t accept him. That’s because the world does not see him or know him. But you know him. He lives with you, and he will be in you.” (NIRV)

When one of his apostles asked how he got to be so lucky, Jesus clarified that a person receives the Spirit by loving Jesus, obeying his teachings, and living for him. If he or she does that, the Spirit will come and dwell therein, giving that person wisdom and insight to help prepare for battle, which ultimately, is a battle leading us to eternal life.

Jesus left his followers with one mission, which we (21st century Christians) see from present day they prevailed in doing:

“Go and make followers of all the nations. Baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” —- Matthew 28:19 (NLV)

If we believe, are baptized, and follow Jesus Christ, we can experience the same Spirit of Truth the 1st century disciples had. Sure, we can’t tell others we were eyewitnesses of his life, wounds, death, and resurrection like the apostles did, but you can tell others how he changed your life.

And if you feel he has not changed your life, maybe you were baptized in the wrong name, like those innocent believers in Acts 19. There were a few disciples living in Ephesus (modern day Turkey) who heard John the Baptist’s teachings and got baptized because of him, and later Paul arrived and asked them if they had the Holy Spirit. Their response was like “Huh? What are you talking about?” and he inquired,

 “Then what beliefs did you acknowledge at your baptism?”

They answered,

“What John the Baptist taught.”

Oh! That answers the problem, Paul might’ve thought. He helped them realize John’s baptism was only temporary; it was meant to lead them to Jesus Christ, the one who had the ability to give us the Holy Spirit, the Life Sword. So they were baptized again, this time in the name of Jesus Christ, and received the gift of the Spirit.

My prayer for you is that you receive the Holy Spirit and obey Jesus Christ, being able to understand his plan for your life and why you were placed here at this time and place, to serve him in power and truth, delegated to fulfill your piece in salvation’s puzzle.

Since this is ultimately part of the Girls With Swords study, I have continued my video evaluation, and my video activity, which I will share with you here in case you are studying with me. I outline Lisa Bevere’s 3 points from Chapter 2, A Sword is Born.

“We buy our swords when we prepare for war, and that’s why Jesus got his disciples ready. Get the sword ready, ‘cuz we will literally face life and death. I disagree [with Ms. Bevere] that the sword of truth isn’t seen in a duel of death… for some it is [especially in the Middle East, North Korea, and Africa], and Jesus said lose your life and follow me. ‘Take up the cross’.” -quote from Lacy’s Fencing Manual

“Not everyone can be privileged to stand out and do something big enough to make history; I don’t think we’re all called to do something great. Some of us are just meant to be stepping stones, paving the way to someone else’s greatness. But in God’s book, the first shall be last, and the Master washes the feet of his disciples, so it’s ok to just pave the way.” —quote from Kat’s Fencing Manual 

Microscope Eyes vs. Atoms, by Lacy Andrews

 

Vast,

Void, and abyssal,

Infinity is in the palms of God.

 

God,

Beyond infinite,

Our diminutive minds strain to see Him.

 

Man,

A speck, an atom,

But God’s microscope eyes can perceive us.

 

We,

Can see His glory,

Through the Creation: God’s Infinity.

 

That,

Is nature: cosmos,

The universe is a mirror of God.

Trust in God: Be Not Disappointed

My mother has an amazing green thumb, though she’s bound not to agree.  She always points out all the plants that she cannot grow, but to tell the truth, she makes our backyard a paradise for wildlife. With cardinals and mourning doves and house wrens and mockingbirds and hummingbirds and blue jays, butterflies and bugs of all kinds, Texas spiny lizards and small geckos and squirrels, time spent sitting in our back yard truly ministers to the spirit and soul.

Finally, brothers, whatever things are true, whatever things are honorable, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report; if there is any virtue, and if there is any praise, think about these things.  Philippians 4:8 (WEB)

“Our Iris is blooming Kathryn.  You thought you could get out of it,  but you’ve got to go out and take a picture of it,” Mom teased after our worship was over. It’s all right, I thought to myself. Maybe I can get a picture of another sphinx moth to go along with my blog entry.  We had gone out yesterday to see a pretty yellow butterfly flitting around the yard, calling with a wave of its delicate wings for us to join it in the sun.  While we were out, we witnessed a big green caterpillar crawling along our swing bench that we were sitting on.  At first we thought it was a tomato hornworm, but upon further investigation we discovered that it was the waved sphinx caterpillar.  With that (and a prayer) on my mind, I was ready to go outside again today.

WavedSphinxCaterpillar

The sun was bright, the breeze was nice.  The shade of the ash tree cooled us from the spring heat of the sun.  Trigger (our Australian Kelpie) was chasing lizards under our lawn chairs, and today he actually caught one.  It was a Texas lizard, the type that we try to protect because Mom loves them so much. Luckily, Mom saw it immediately and she made Trigger drop the lizard.  It was unharmed.  I helped Mom hold Trig back and, after the shock wore off, the lizard quickly climbed up my pants leg and clutched on, knowing that I was a safe haven for it to hide while the angry dog tried to attack it. (Trig wasn’t really angry, he was just trying to protect his people from the lizard that he had found hiding under our chair.) After the lizard escaped, I calmed Trig down and Mom took him back inside.

Like what Mom and I were doing for the lizard in protecting it from Trig, God wants to protect us from the vicious dangers in our life.  He wants us to trust in Him and to cling onto Him, so that He can hold us in His arms and protect us from harm.

But as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives. In the end, he will stand upon the earth. Job 19:25 (WEB)

While we were outside, I was looking for something amazing to take a picture of. The day was still and quiet, aside from the children playing next door.  As my gaze skimmed the yard, I drew my attention to the roof of our house, to a spot where the shingles are missing.  We’re getting our roof replaced this week, so I was using my telescopic lens on my camera to get a good look at the damage to the roof.  I gave Lacy the camera so that she could see the spots on the roof too, and when she looked into the lens, I suddenly caught a glimpse of something  big buzzing around the roses.  “Oh quick! Give it to me!” Lacy immediately handed me the camera, but it was too late. The small creature had finished its business at the roses and flown on past the house.  From the distance that I was at, it looked like a hummingbird, but bigger and bulkier; it must have been a sphinx moth making a quick stop at the flowers in our yard before moving on.  It was the very moment I came outside for, but I had missed it.

Roof-worries

The message God gave me at that moment was loud and clear. When we decide to focus on the worries of life, we miss the beautiful moments that God tries to bless us with. Lacy and I were focused on the roof of the house- something that is completely out of our hands.  We could do nothing about the missing shingles or the rains that we’ve been getting lately.  All we could do was trust that God will protect us from harm and wait for the roofers to do their job, scheduled later this week.  But because I had decided to think about my worries and God’s concerns, I missed a moment that God had given for me to enjoy.

Who knows if I could have gotten a picture of the sphinx moth before it flew away. I was disappointed that I had missed the chance to try, but Lacy reassured me later that we’ll have more chances in the future.  The sphinx moth is usually seen in May to July, so no worries.  Maybe next time.

God heard my prayer of repentance, and although he didn’t send the moth back around, he answered another prayer of mine instead; I had wished for a chance to take a picture of the dragonflies and damselflies that we have in our back yard. That taught me another lesson: With a missed opportunity, God will always open a new door.

damselfly

Hear my cry, God. Listen to my prayer. From the end of the earth, I will call to you when my heart is overwhelmed. Lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For you have been a refuge for me, a strong tower from the enemy. I will dwell in your tent forever. I will take refuge in the shelter of your wings. Selah. Psalm 61:1-4 (WEB)

Digital Can’t Replace Natural, You Just Have to See

Bernie Sanders, the well-known American politician, said yesterday on his Facebook post, “Let me be clear. Climate change is real. It is caused by human activity…” Whether you believe him and the well-respected science that says our world is changing and it is the fault of technology and humanity, truth is, a climate still exists outside today, in most areas of the world, which we can enjoy. And can we, in good conscience, go too long a period without enjoying the nature God has made?

For ever since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through His workmanship [all His creation, the wonderful things that He has made], so that they [who fail to believe and trust in Him] are without excuse and without defense.” Romans 1:20 (AMP)

I’ve felt stressed lately and decided to do, what I call, a social media fast. No internet. No Facebook. Not for entertainment, not for research, zilch! Constantly I search online about historical events, culture, written articles, science, religion and more, and I love to keep up with the latest even in media, actors, and politics, but on the social media fast I don’t even allow myself to do that. “I am blessed to have a home library, I have a cabinet full of old movies and games, I have a backyard, I have a life outside the digital,” I told myself. I even have “faith in the unseen” to pray and ponder on.

I have to remind myself – I remind you, too – Your hopes, your dreams, those you love are not bound to the digital. God exists in the natural. Love exists in the natural. You just have to experience nature to know.

A few weeks ago, I think someone’s prayer for me was answered when I was in my backyard garden. I have been sad a lot – an undertone of sadness glooms my life, if I let it – but when I went outside and enjoyed the fresh cool air, the sunlight, and the greenery, my spirits were lifted. It was not an accidental lifting of the spirits. It was purposeful.

First, I went outside to read my daily Bible reading. It was possibly the most tragic story in the entire Old Testament (Judges 19). I cried and grew angry at the injustice of a woman’s death, and read about how the whole nation of Israel went to war over her murderers’ heinous crime, as they tried to right the wrong. It reminded me of what is happening today in our world, with such a corrupt view on what is “natural” and “acceptable” and “free”. That made me very sad, but then my dog Trig dug a hole to serve as his recliner behind me, which got my mind on my surroundings. The sun was warm but the air cool, which in my opinion, is the most relaxing weather.

That’s when I started noticing the trees rustling, and the lush green garden.

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Patches of clover fill the grass, and who knew, bees pollinate even them?

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Common buckeyes like to light on the vibrant, orange lantana bush and feed there. Kat had a camera, so she captured everything we saw.

But two truly magical moments stood out to me as an “answered prayer” or else God strictly loving me.

The first “hug” was when a baby caterpillar was on my shoulder. I was standing underneath an ash tree that’s about three or four times my height, with its branches looming all around me, hanging around my shoulders, when suddenly a little green worm dropped onto my shoulder unexpectedly. Mom was using her shovel and pulling a plant out of the ground when I told her what happened. “Hey, there’s a caterpillar on me,” I said to her, and at the same time she showed me the baby bug on her own shirt. “It’s a baby lightning bug.” It made me feel good to see the new life all around.

IMG_7281

(Actually, I later found out it’s an ash sawfly larvae, before its head turns black. Looks like a caterpillar, doesn’t it? It is related to the birch sawfly larvae found in England.)

The second “hug” was more magical, more providential and less coincidental. Now I have a beautiful garden, but like I said, I hardly ever walk in it because I’m too digitally bound to my gadgets and computer, which is a habit I’m going to break after having found that enjoying nature is an anti-depressant, but that is beside the point. The reason why I know the Holy Spirit was with me during this incident is because a still peace inside showed me a cloud in the sky at just the right moment; I gazed heavenward and saw the only cloud in the sky move in front of the sun, shading it with an outline of pearl-white lining, and it sat still for at least 30 seconds, creating a grey atmosphere. Notice this moment, you’re being blessed. The peace lingered until I decided to go over to where Kat was taking pictures. We talked for a few moments as she captured more garden pictures. I almost forgot the feeling until the blessing came…

IMG_7338

“What’s that flittering around the lantana?” Mom asked after we came back over to the door, about to go back in. We debated whether it was a hummingbird, because it flitted and darted the way the little bird does, in a fast-wing-motion. Mom realized, “I think it’s a hummingbird moth!” I have never seen one of those before! After doing the research (so much for not online researching; I had to go online to find out the species) I found that it is a white-lined sphinx moth, found in Central Texas, known as a desert moth, which only comes out in cool moist air, usually dusk, although it was 3:00 PM. It doesn’t like direct heat because the wings overheat easily. It needs to drink a lot of fluid to stay hydrated. Wow… Amazing! I am convinced the only reason we witnessed the beautiful moth was because of the cloud that rested in front of the sun for 30 seconds, which created the perfect climate for the moth to make its rounds. Maybe some could say, especially the older generation, “You need to get out more…” because it could be a common occurrence, but really it was not. Mom was as amazed as I am, and she enjoys the garden much more than I do. It was God and love.

So if you find yourself doubting God, or feel sad from life’s letdowns, take a little time in the natural world. The unnatural shall not cloud the natural; digital desires cannot remove spiritual needs. We will continue to yearn for more in life no matter how distracted multi-tasking has us. And we will continue to need nature in order to create a better argument against the demons that so often plague our mind.

In conclusion, climate change does not have to scare us, neither does the injustices of the world have to cause us despair, because God is not only loving but He is just and will guide everything, even the drifting clouds and the rebirth of spring.

 

Anointed with the Spirit

“There is one body, and one Spirit, even as you also were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all, and through all, and in us all.” Ephesians 4:4-6 (WEB)

The morning began with a tornado warning. We awoke, immediately preparing for the worst: if a funnel cloud was spotted, we would rush to the safest place in our house- the master bathroom.  After preparing, we waited.

Wind whipped the tree branches, the inflatable man on the new pizzeria across the street blew over, rain and hail poured down and transformed the road into river rapids, but the storm passed without a real threat. We were safe, thank God.

The Holy Spirit is compared to a mighty storm in the book of Acts.  Jesus had told his apostles that they “will be baptized in the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” (Acts 1:5, ICB) They were all together, waiting for something to happen, when the Spirit suddenly came onto them like a storm.

Suddenly there came from the sky a sound like the rushing of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting… They were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak with other languages, as the Spirit gave them the ability to speak. Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under the sky. When this sound was heard, the multitude came together, and were bewildered, because everyone heard them speaking in his own language.” Acts 2:2-6 (WEB)

If we look at the Old Testament, there are many stories of people who were anointed as God’s prophets or judges or kings and then received the Holy Spirit.

King Saul was anointed by the prophet Samuel to be the first king of Israel. “Samuel took a jar of olive oil. He poured the oil on Saul’s head.” Samuel 10:1 (ICB) Then Samuel told Saul that God wanted him to be the leader of His people.  He also told Saul that the Spirit of the Lord would come on Saul, giving him the power to prophesy and be changed into a new man. (1 Samuel 10:6) It really happened.

“When Saul turned to leave Samuel, God changed Saul’s heart. All these signs came true that day. When Saul and his servant arrived at Gibeah, Saul met a group of prophets. The Spirit of God entered him. And he prophesied with the prophets.” Samuel 10:9-10 (ICB)

The story of King Saul has an important lesson for us. After many years of ruling and following God’s calling for him, the Lord told Saul to attack another nation and destroy everything that belongs to them. It would be considered an offering to the Lord. Saul did defeat the nation, but he kept the best sheep and cattle alive.

Saul’s disobedience caused God to reject him as king of Israel (1 Samuel 15: 11, 26-29), and then the Lord’s Spirit left Saul (1 Samuel 16:14). Saul was tormented when he lost the Spirit.  That’s because the Holy Spirit is mighty like a storm, but it is actually our security.

David, the son of Jesse, was the next anointed king of Israel.

“So Samuel took the container of olive oil. Then he poured oil on Jesse’s youngest son to appoint him in front of his brothers. From that day on, the Lord’s Spirit entered David with power.” 1 Samuel 16:13 (ICB)

David was anointed. He was chosen for God’s purpose. And David was a righteous choice; though he sinned, his heart was right with God, and the Lord’s Spirit never left him.

Isaiah prophesied of Jesus Christ receiving the Holy Spirit.  Isaiah 11:1-2 says “And there shall come forth a shoot out of the stock of Jesse, and a branch out of his roots shall be fruitful; and the Spirit of Jehovah shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of Jehovah.” (DARBY)

We are told that Jesus had “the power of the Holy Spirit” (Luke 4:14, ICB) after his baptism.

“He came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. He entered, as was his custom, into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read. The book of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. He opened the book, and found the place where it was written, “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to heal the broken hearted, to proclaim release to the captives, recovering of sight to the blind, to deliver those who are crushed, and to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.” He closed the book, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fastened on him. He began to tell them, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” Luke 4:16-21 (WEB)

Christians are anointed through baptism to become God’s people, and through our baptism, we can receive the Holy Spirit: the spirit of wisdom, of understanding, of counsel and might, knowledge, and the fear of God.  Once we have the Holy Spirit within us, we are called to be like Jesus: tell the good news of God’s kindness to all people, comfort those who are sad and with broken hearts, tell the captives of sin that they are set free, and warn everyone that God will punish all who refuse Him. (Isaiah 61:1-2)

You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts. It is known and read by everyone. You show that you are a letter from Christ that he sent through us. This letter is not written with ink,  but with the Spirit of the living God. It is not written on stone tablets. It is written on human hearts.” 2 Corinthians 3:2,3 (ICB)

Patience is a Coconut

I’ll admit. I did not want to write this week’s devotional on patience. I wanted Kat to do it because she’s more patient, the one that’s slow to talk and keeps calm when a problem arises. So when the cards were dealt randomly, and I was the one who got the task to write about patience, I panicked and brought my fear to God. “Lord,” I asked, “how can I teach patience when I have yet to decipher how it works in my own life? I’m too young! I’m still IN the waiting process. I haven’t reached the destination. I can’t ‘live to tell the tale’. My testimony isn’t powerful.”

See, I have a chaotic life. I had dreams I wanted to see through to the end; they seem buried or dead, and for all I know, may never amount to a hill o’ beans, as Southern people say. My dreams may never come true. At this point, I don’t know.

Or maybe my dreams will happen, but not the way I thought. Perhaps I will simply influence others to have dreams and they will carry out “the beautiful life” while I am left to study, research, and philosophize.

Or maybe my dreams will only become reality after my lifetime is over. Like Picasso and Van Gogh, artists who become famous after their death, or Edgar Allan Poe who became famous post-mortem, too.

Maybe, right? I constantly find myself waiting for the “easy part” to get here. I wait for God to bless me with a stable job, friends, independence, customers, or could God have a chosen alternative? Just something! Anything! Don’t hold me in suspense. “Let thy will be done” is me relinquishing my will to him every day of my life in 2017, and yet, last year wasn’t any different, or any year that I can remember since I graduated high school, so how can I expect next year to change? Have I ever done anything, so far, that’s worthy of praise? Can anyone be proud of me?

There’s good news if you’re like me. This journey of questioning, wondering, and waiting is exactly how we learn how to be patient, the way the Holy Spirit intends us to! Sure, like me, you might know someone who exhibits outstanding qualities, and they appear calm and enduring, while meanwhile, you see yourself as hyper, anxious, or impulsive. It may seem like you can’t be patient, but…

God’s patience is for everyone. God’s patience isn’t the skill of twiddling your thumbs or the art of sitting still! It is the ability to trust God, even when your bully brain tells you He doesn’t care; you trust Him anyway. It is the plan to keep trying to do what is right even when your anger is ready to burst. It’s the idea that you will keep forgiving and loving someone who has already wronged you a bazillion times. When you never see an end to struggling, yet you keep praying for and loving people anyway, that’s patience.

You are a coconut and God is the hammer, the knife, and the hands that hold you, break you, shape you, and make you. You are the coconut that becomes a basket, broom, rope, sweet pie, healing lotion, clothing, shampoo, dangly earring, carpet, candy, or pina colada, or anything God wants you to be. You drop off the tree and roll into the sand, where the tide pulls you into the waves, and the waves take you all the way to new land, but only after days and days of bobbing. Then you might grow big into a palm tree, or maybe you are found by the hammer and cracked open and used as a tool or food or medicine. You do not know where your journey will take you, but never will your journey take you the same place as other coconuts. It may hurt, it might be long and tumultuous, but in the end, you will do mighty little things. You are a tiny bit extraordinary, and a very big part of God’s plan of salvation for everyone.

Patience is you, when you let God in.

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” Colossians 3:12-14

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