Oct 3, 2005

Hope and Strongholds

It’s a rare sunny day in Tacoma. I sit in the dining room bay of my sister’s old Victorian home, munching candy corn from Saturday’s Punkin Pie birthday party, so named after the sweet little Miss Pie with red hair and a miracle birth story. She’s crying upstairs, unwilling to nap when so many new and interesting toys are strewn across the living room floor – Noah’s ark with animals and little people, a stroller and a peachy doll, a bendable story book all about how much bigger I am than a chicken. (I can clap, you see; the chicken flaps its wings. I have an egg at tea; the chicken pecks grain from the ground for hers.) Orange gerbera daisies and yellow day lilies sit in a vase on the table, reminding us of the day a year and a week ago that Suz and OJ travailed for the life of their daughter, and the people of God upheld them. My sister faced what her own mother never had to, and was spared from it when Jesus touched his hand to Ariel’s lungs. A lioness of God is not born without purpose. Beside me is my favorite Psalm, and outside the window I see my brother-in-law squatting inside the flatbed of Josh’s truck, helping move the contents out. The snippet of conversation I heard seems to be about another friend who needs help installing a new transmission. Perhaps Joshua will lend his truck in the meantime. It would be the normal thing for this community of believers to do. Adjust their schedule, shrug at the inconvenience, and be brother to their brothers.

Only ten minutes, and gray-lavender clouds have deepened the sky. My legs aren’t toasty anymore and OJ has flapped his arms into a jacket, still talking. The babe is quiet and my heart is turning again to Psalm sixteen. If I could do what I wished, I would write music to sing these words to, and it would be the glorious and soaring kind, that drops deep in the heart when laments are cried “Preserve me, O God,” and even deeper when He cries back. Thanksgiving, joy, certitude. “My goodness is nothing apart from You.” The Lord is the same today as yesterday, and here as there. Yet I am glad I am here, and glad it is today. Today I’ve learned where my heart was broken, and tomorrow I will find He has healed it. Today I’ve found where my sin was established, and tomorrow I will know that He took my repentance and turned it into forgiveness.

The human soul always fights against adjustments, for implied is that the adjustment was needed, and we hate to admit wrong. Yet we operate in paradigms of thought that exist outside the realm of truth. You think you should put on your clothes before you jump into the swimming pool? No, you shouldn’t, and it is not offensive for me to tell you so. Why then would I take offense when confronted by the scripture saying “be transformed by the renewing of your mind”, simply because it reveals that my mind is consumed by lies? Or, “tear down strongholds, cast down every argument and high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and use the weapons God has given you to do this.” I don’t remember tearing down many strongholds in my days. I’ve been here 30 years, and have probably torn down less than 30 of them. The tragic thing is that these strongholds have been the walls between me and the love God is pouring out on me. They’re my blindnesses, and in some places I’m just as badly off as the pitiable dwarves who sat in the new Narnia after being thrown through The Door, but could not see the land about them nor the queens and kings cajoling them. Thrown into paradise they acted like they’d been thrown into hellishness. Blindness. I hate it. The Lord is supplying peace and power to me, and at times all I’ve seen is the big cloud generated by a small spirit of fear raising dust. On the drive through eastern Washington I thought I saw, a long way off, a tornado. Closer up I found it was a whirlwind, a dust devil, a small column of swirling winds that lifted the dusty soil from unsown fields and spiraled it into the sky. Harmless things. I could walk through one and only get a bit of dirt in my eye. Yet how great and dangerous they made themselves look.

I hope that soon this bank of clouds will be out over the sound and we will have sun again. But that is not all that hopes.
“I have set the Lord always before me; because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved. Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices; my flesh also will rest in hope.” The strongholds of the enemy cannot stand against the power of my Lord, and the lies of his mouth cannot withhold from me the everlasting love of God. I rest in hope.