Surrounded

“You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you, Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out and face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you.” – (2 Chronicles 20:17, NIV)

“You will not have to fight this battle. Just stand there and watch the Lord save you. Judah and Jerusalem, don’t be afraid. Don’t worry, because the Lord is with you. So go out to stand against those people tomorrow.” – (2 Chronicles 20:17, ERV)

“Stand and watch, but do not fight the battle. There, you will watch the Eternal save you, Judah and Jerusalem. Do not fear or worry. Tomorrow, face the army and trust that the Eternal is with you.” – (2 Chronicles 20:17, VOICE)

 

After waking up and preparing my coffee, and settling to begin my devotions, I heard mom stirring in her room. Her movement is my cue to go check and see if she is ready to get up for a restroom run. Of course, she gladly took me up on the early morning offer, and after all was said and done, she determined that she would try to go back to bed and sleep a while longer. When I returned to my spot at the kitchen table with a view, the lyrics from a simple worship song kept playing on repeat in my head and heart:

This is how I fight my battles

This is how I fight my battles (repeats)

It may look like I’m surrounded 

But I’m surrounded by You (repeats)

(To listen, click here. )

As I looked in the word for similar, I found the story in 2 Chronicles, chapter 20. The gist is about God’s faithfulness in fighting on behalf of Judah and Jerusalem when they were surrounded on all sides. Reading verse seventeen, it was as if Jesus was saying to me: You will not have to fight this battle(alone). Just stand there and watch Me work. Shannon and Megan, don’t be afraid. Don’t worry, I am with You. Go out and take each tomorrow as it comes, for I will be with you. Now, I am not trying to twist scripture, nor change the meaning of a passage, but rather, I am attempting to share the encouragement gained from reading about God’s faithfulness to Judah and Jerusalem when they likely felt completely overwhelmed. For my sister and me, we too have had such “surrounded” moments as we navigate this road to recovery with mom. Just as the song came in like a flood and surrounded my heart and mind, so too has God’s faithful provision for mom, Megan and myself, when we needed it most. He knows our need and is full of goodness and grace, ready to move on our behalf. Personally, after my sister had to return home Thursday, I was a bit intimidated to take on the care giver role alone. I want to bless, protect, help and encourage mom every step of this journey as I love her well, and I feel completely inadequate and ill-equipped to do all that needs to be done. None of us are ever fully equipped nor prepared for the things to which we are called. I imagine that is part of God’s wise design. It keeps us dependent on Him to be our help, hope and strength, and helps us recognize His grace and provisions, both great and small.

Yesterday, mom and I were surrounded well by my husband and boys. It was so good to share meals together, visit together, and enjoy a family favorite game before bed. Watching the delight on mom’s face as she interacted with my guys, and the same look, mirrored on their faces, filled the places in my heart that were feeling a bit depleted. We have a bit more time altogether today before they head home, so I know that our cups will be fuller still, before the day’s end. May we ever seek the Lord to fight our battles, and know that we are surrounded by Him.

 

When life overwhelms,

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Surrounded by family. ❤ (Christmas 2018)

And battles rage on;

Turn in trust to God,

Whose help makes us strong.

Strong for the battles,

We’re chosen to fight;

Wisdom to listen,

Gain the Lord’s insight.

The courage to wait,

And trust in His plan;

Soak in surrender,

As for us, He’ll stand.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You fight on our behalf, even when we are unaware of how You are moving. Thank You that You are faithful to strengthen and equip us for each new day, and that You supply all that we need as the need arises. Forgive us for our fearfulness when we appear to be surrounded by more than we can bear. Teach us to recognize that we are actually surrounded by You. Show us how to walk by faith and not by sight, as You fight for us and through us. Lead us to love those around us well, so that they too may come to know and understand Your strength and grace and love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we fight our battles by surrendering to Your surrounding of us all. Amen.

 

© Shannon Elizabeth Grabrick and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present

 

For we live by faith, not by sight. – 2 Corinthians 5:7

It’s Not About Appearances

My ego is no longer central. It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion, and I am no longer driven to impress God. Christ lives in me. The life you see me living is not “mine”, but it is lived by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. I am not going back on that. – (Galatians 2:20-21, MSG)

 

This is a tricky one. As one with people-pleasing tendencies, I have to check myself regularly. What is my motivation? Am I doing what I am doing to please people, or to honor God? There is nothing that we could do to make God love us more, nor impress Him. He loves us so much that He laid down His life for us, individually. The more I know and understand the depth and breadth of His love, the more I desire to love as I am loved. Each act of obedience is a setting aside of self, and simply seeking to serve He who is worthy of all that we are. Nothing He asks of us is about appearances, and all is aimed at loving Him and loving people well. May we set aside every semblance of self, and seek to serve our Savior in all that we say and do.

 

There’s nothing on earth,When My Soul Waits

That we could choose do;

To impress the Lord,

For nothing is new.

None of us are called,

To try to please men;

But rather to serve,

Honor God again.

For my very life,

Is not at all mine;

So I shall choose live,

By faith in Devine.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we do not need to appear righteous before You or mankind, but rather it is You in us that matters. Thank You that our lives are not our own, but it is You, dwelling in us that compels us to live and to love as You designed us to do. Forgive us for allowing our egos to get in the way, where we worry about pleasing more than doing what we know we are called to do. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would live by faith in a way that honors You in all that we say and do. Show us how to love others in such a way that they too may come to know the goodness and grace that comes from a life in You alone. May many choose a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek to live by faith, rather than try to impress. Amen.

© Shannon Elizabeth Moreno and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present

He who refreshes others will himself be refreshed. – Proverbs 11:25

Test Your Heart

Just as we are acutely aware of our physical health, we ought to also be equally mindful of our spiritual well-being. Paul advises the people of Corinth this way: “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you – unless, of course, you fail the test?’ – (2 Corinthians 13:5)

 

We are meant to check ourselves to make sure that we are solid in our faith. Are we moving forward toward God, grateful for all that He has done, or are we drifting in the wrong direction, frighteningly unaware of His faithfulness? To be in the faith, is to be in an ongoing and growing relationship with our Redeemer. Christ lives in the hearts of all who have invited Him in, yet do our lives reflect His presence? By checking ourselves regularly, we are more readily available to correction and redirection as it is needed. For our physical bodies, we have doctors and dentists, trainers and teammates to stay healthy physically. Likewise, for our spiritual health we have pastors and small groups, prayer teams, and dear friends traveling the same direction on this leg of life’s journey, to keep our hearts right and minds renewed.

 

Test your heart often,Test Your Heart

to see where you stand;

are you seeking God,

or on sinking sand?

The very same God,

who’s living in You;

will give direction,

show you what to do.

Know He is faithful,

His presence secure;

when You call on Him,

you’ll find He’s right here.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You dwell in us, and give us the capacity to check ourselves to determine whether or not we are following the path of faith You have laid out before us or not. Thank You that Your Holy Spirit speaks to our hearts and minds, whispering reminders of what we should and should not do. Forgive us for ignoring Your still small voice, or for neglecting our own need to redirect our attention on what You ask. Help us to have ears to hear You, and hearts that are quick and willing to obey. Lead us to listen well, and help us to love others as You so lavishly love us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You as they see Your faithfulness at work in us. Be exalted O God, in all that we do and say. Amen.

© Shannon Elizabeth Moreno and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present.

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. – Galatians 5:22-23