Marked

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Everyone gets hit with flaming arrows sometimes. It’s part of life in a world that’s fallen…life where the curse of sin and death have left their mark. Because we are part flesh, and part spirit, there will be daily rounds of battle between the two. And while I believe the battle has already been won, I am also aware that our defeated foe doesn’t give up without a frantic fight. Though Jesus has defeated the powers of evil, those powers are still thrusting fiery darts at humanity, hoping they will land and leave their mark upon our hearts.

It is true that the devil only has as much power over us as we allow him to have. This is why God reminds us in His Word that we have been given all we need to protect us from the enemy’s attempts to win back the title. Ephesians 6 walks us through the provision of the armor of God – each piece descriptive of an aspect of Jesus’ nature, now present in every believer. To “put it on,” as Scripture says, is to walk awakened to the reality of who we are in Christ, and of the weapons we have because He lives in us.

One of those weapons – in fact, the one given to deal with the fiery darts of the wicked one – is the shield of faith. The Bible says that with this shield, we can extinguish all of the enemy’s flaming arrows. Not some. All.

Think with me about this for a moment…

How many circumstances tempt us to disbelieve God, shouting over our hearts instead that evil has triumphed…again? How many times have you been hit with something, and found yourself reeling from the pain or devastation, wondering why God didn’t stop it from happening? How many times have you read the Bible, coming across a verse that promises God’s help and protection, and thought about the time He didn’t protect you or help you? Do you still read the Bible, or has life, with all of its disappointments, wearied you of fighting through the accusations of your heart when God’s Word says something  that didn’t prove true in your situation?

I’m talking to your heart today, aren’t I? It’s okay…I’m talking to mine, too.

…with this shield, we can extinguish all of the enemy’s flaming arrows…All.

We need the shield of faith, because the enemy attempts to mark our hearts, our memories, and our lives with doubts about who God is, and who we are to God. Every day, those fiery darts come sailing through the atmosphere, aimed at my life, seeking to dislodge me from my identity as a beloved and chosen child of the Most High, for whom God has promised to do above and beyond all that I could even think or imagine. And every day, I have a choice: to be marked by the mutilating fire of the adversary, or to mark those moments with a declaration of dependence upon God, no matter what may come.

I’m reading a book by Lysa Terkeurst right now called It’s Not Supposed To Be This WayIn it, she talks about some of her deepest struggles, her most critically piercing heartbreaks in life. She is honest about the battle to believe God when everything she saw shouted the complete opposite of what God had promised. This thought of either being marked by or marking moments comes from a chapter entitled But How Do I Get Through The Next 86,400 Seconds. 

In that chapter, she goes back to the garden where Jesus wrestled down his human weakness and the temptation to resist God’s plans for His crucifixion (Mark 14:36). She takes us to the marked moment in Jesus’ life where he had to get alone with His Father and fight through His own human desire for the absence of pain and suffering, so that He could trade it for God’s will in that hour. God’s will would take Him to His grave.

Of course He knew there would be life on the other side of the grave, but that truth didn’t negate the agony of the suffering that He would have to endure to get there. We know the same truth – that there will be life on the other side of all our troubles and pain. Yet we, too, wrestle deeply with our human desire to escape pain and suffering. The difference between Jesus’ marked moment and ours is that we don’t always wield the shield of faith. Instead, we allow the flaming arrows of the wicked one to penetrate our hearts and scar us with unbelief.

In John 10:9, Jesus makes an amazing statement: He says, “I am the door. Whoever enters through Me will be saved.” Some versions use gate instead of door. The Greek word for shield from Ephesians 6 is thyreós, which means a gate, or a door. It describes the shape of the Roman shield used by the soldiers of Jesus’ day. It was long, oblong shaped – like a gate or door – and covered the soldier’s entire body.

“…take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one;”

When we “put on” Christ, rooting ourselves in Him, He becomes the very shield that protects us from ALL of the enemy’s attempts to destroy our faith. Interestingly, He does this by birthing His Word within our hearts. The very Word the enemy would seek to use to bring doubt, God intends to use to strengthen our faith.

Jesus is the living Word of God. When we face situations that are filled with flaming arrows, we have a choice: mark or be marked. We either get hit and look up, down, and all around to see what’s going on and why, falling right into the hands and plans of the enemy who launched the arrows; or we get hit and close our eyes tight, willing our soul to look up and see the One Who has promised to be our help.

God’s promise to protect us doesn’t mean we will never encounter pain, suffering or hardship. His promise to deliver us from tribulation doesn’t mean we won’t ever face it. It means that in them – in those marking moments, He sees things we cannot see. We see and feel the fiery darts, but He sees hell’s agenda to distract us from the place we’ve been called to dwell in. We see and feel the pain and the suffering, but He sees hell’s plan to disconnect us from the tree of life and send us, aching for answers, to the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

So why wouldn’t He stop it? Why wouldn’t God lead us through a different way?
Because, somehow, in His infinite wisdom, He chooses to use the very things we suffer through to bring about our greatest transformation. There are truths hidden in the ground of pain and suffering that we cannot mine from any other landscape. Truths about the beauty and goodness of God. Truths which become weapons we can wield when the adversary, the enemy of our souls, comes claiming that God doesn’t care about what’s best for us. Shields we can hold up when the wicked one aims his flaming arrows at our hearts, seeking to convince us that God has forgotten us…when the truth is really that He is only making us more like Himself.

In a world groaning under the curse of sin and death, He is meeting people at their gravesites, calling them to arise and dance right back into life.

As we suffer, as we endure pain and difficulty and hardships unimaginable – choosing to mark those moments with a declaration of trust in God – we become like the Son Who was willing to suffer and even die, if it was in God’s plans. We become like the One Who was willing to leave all His comfort behind, and enter into a cursed world and a cursed existence, trusting God to make Him a curse breaker. We become like the One Who said, “We do not live by bread alone, but by every Word that comes from the mouth of God,” as the enemy held a flaming arrow to His head.

We won’t understand it all. Some things will not be removed from our paths and our stories. To say this is not to succumb to doubt about God’s ability to turn things around. Rather, it is to ascend to a place of trust that says, “Whether or not God turns this around, still I will stand and believe that He is Who He says He is.” “Whether I live or die, I’m all in.” “Whether or not He delivers me, I will still praise Him. I will still worship Him. I will still believe Him. I will still follow Him. I will still live for Him.”

Dear Woman of Breakthrough, determine to mark your moments with a firm stand in faith, with a reinforced declaration of assurance that God’s ways are indeed higher than your ways and my ways…therefore His ways must surely lead us to the throne of His presence.

No matter what may come, can we agree to let Him be God, whatever that might look like in your life? Yes, He can and does do great and mighty things. But when He chooses not to do so in your corner of the universe, He is no less God. Can our hearts be assured of that? And if not, can we choose to close our eyes, and refocus them on Him, while we wait for all things to be made new?

Pray this with me, today:

Jesus, be Thou my vision. As I fix my eyes on You, let the things of this life grow strangely dim in the light of Your glory and grace. Cause me to endure hardship, to walk bravely through suffering and devastation, trusting completely that You will bring beauty out of all my ashes. Help me not to resist Your plans for My life. And help me to trust that, when Your plans allow room for pain and suffering, I shall come out as gold refined in the fire once I have endured. Let me be marked by the fire of Your presence, and not by the fire of the enemy’s arrows. Let the moments of my life be marked with a decision to trust You, no matter what things look like or feel like. Help me to stand, Lord, and to keep on standing, until You bring me to my everlasting home.

You, oh Lord, are worthy of it all.

{Photo images courtesy of http://www.pixabay.com)

 


2 thoughts on “Marked

  1. I really connected to your post. Lisa Teresk has caught my attention by her transparency with her life. You also write with a transparency. Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.

    Like

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