Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Trail Running - THE BEACH

Have you ever considered a “spiritual makeover” to be like running on the beach?

"Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them.” (Daniel 10:12)

When I was a sophomore in high school my cross country coach hosted a summer running camp on the beach outside St. Augustine, Florida. We set up tents just steps from the crashing waves and got up ridiculously early to run. What I recall most about this time running on the beach and many since then is how landmarks off in the distance always seem unreachable. With every step I take, the deep sand gives way causing my foot to slide back until it takes hold of the secure sand beneath it. It feels as if I am always running but never attaining.

Sometimes I wonder about the journey of heroes in the Bible who also felt like they were always running but never attaining. I think of Abraham becoming a father of many nations, Jacob wanting to be married to Rachel and Joseph’s journey to actualize the dream God gave him. There is of course the Israelites Exodus from Egypt and forty years wandering in the wilderness. Did each one realize how far off in the distance the actualization of the vision God gave them would be brought to reality? Initially the landmark seems so close but on the trail to attain it each step feels like sliding back in the soft sand (Hebrews 11).

I can think of several different examples in my own journey with God but none quite so ever present as the journey to dismantle and overcome reactionary behaviors. If you are like me, I often think of waiting on the Lord for something concrete like a job, a husband or maybe even struggling with infertility. But, “soul work” is similar to waiting on the Lord in that we need to press through the soft sand and slide back a bit in order to reach the firm sand beneath. Each step toward the eventual goal requires a persevering and enduring spirit to overcome the ever moving, unstable ground (Philippians 2:12).

Tears poured out like rain during the week of endurance and strength training on the beach that eventful summer nearly thirty years ago. Muscles were dismantled and rebuilt stronger and better able to withstand the stress of a competitive race. Spiritual “makeovers” also require a process of dismantling and rebuilding none of which will occur without first coming to a place of brokenness and desperation to be made new and whole again (Isaiah 30:15).

Each failure to attain a measure of success is maddening and requires a renewed spirit to press on to take hold of that which Christ took hold of in us (1 Corinthians 9:25, 1 Timothy 6:12). Not every disciple (follower of Christ) is willing to press on but as we see in the journey of many before us, it is an essential part of the process. Will we trust God on our runs to the landmark in the distance across the “sandy beach?”

·        It was Abraham’s faith God would come through with His promise that credits him with righteousness (Romans 4).
·        It was Joseph’s continual spirit of forgiveness and belief God was for him despite horrific trials that allowed the dream to come to fruition (Romans 8:31).
·        It was Jacob’s wrestling with God in the midst of his deceitful behaviors which eventually moved God to bless his barren wife Rachel with a special child.  
·        It was Joshua’s trust in God’s power that led the Israelites to finally enter the land of milk and honey (Joshua 2:24).

Each of these heroes’s lived out their faith in spite of strongholds and shortcomings.   When they encountered “soft sand,” they turned to God by pressing through the shifting grains to find His firm foundation beneath pressing back with an outpouring of mercy. “If God is for me, who can be against me?” (Romans 8:31)

I never thought to consider that my continual struggle with failure to attain a measure of success in my battle with hurtful reactionary behaviors to be one of a battle against those against me – DARK FORCES (Ephesians 6:12). Evil does not want me to prosper to carry out God’s work to rescue and restore souls. In my naivety, the devil and his cronies know I am weak against their scheming (1 Peter 5:8). In Christ, I have power over the dominion of darkness.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

The devil uses deception and affliction (suffering and injustice) to carry out his evil scheming. Many strongholds have generational consequence manifesting in you and me in doubt (rebellion, pride or unbelief), shame (rejection), fear (passivity) and blame (bitterness). Left unfettered, outward signs can come to look like reactionary behaviors of helplessness and hopelessness: addiction, anxiety, self-pity (depression), fits of rage, abuse, body mutilation, or reckless risk taking.

Reflection and Study
Hero of the Bible Daniel: Daniel 9, 10 & 11

Daniel cried out to God for Israel to be delivered from generational sin (Daniel 9). He repented, prayed for forgiveness and mercy. God heard Daniel’s prayer immediately and sent angels to give him the vision of how Israel would be restored. But, the angels battled in the heavenly realm against each other to prevent Daniel from hearing the vision spoken to him (Daniel 10). After 3 weeks God sent Michael, a more powerful angel to deliver the message to Daniel (Daniel 11). The angel Michael said to Daniel,

“Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them.” (Daniel 10:12)

The very instant we repent of our ugly reactionary behaviors and seek understanding and deliverance from them, God will send us people and resources to help us escape our bondage. But, we cannot be naïve to think dark forces will not act against our release. In fact, running toward freedom can feel like pressing through shifting grains of sand. But, we must press on and push through the shifting sand to feel God’s strength pushing back against us propelling us toward the landmark of freedom.

Daniel’s story helps me to understand why my reactionary behaviors persist in spite of my repentance and seeking God’s healing and deliverance from generational strongholds.

Here is what I am learning from Daniel’s story:

Repent for reactionary behaviors and pray against the injustice and generational strongholds causing them. Fervently ask God for deliverance and full restoration. Believe He will rescue, redeem and restore me.
Receive God’s ocean of mercy and forgiveness fully. Remove all thoughts of condemnation.
Rebuke the dark forces and live in God’s power and authority over evil.
Replace the doubt, shame, fear and blame with the truth of God’s goodness and loving kindness.

When we fail to rebuke evil forces in the name and power of Jesus, they will persist to fill our mind with hopelessness and despair. Like Daniel the evil forces will encamp around us and attempt to prevent us from being filled with God’s vision for restoration. STAND FIRM in the power and authority of Christ.

  • Believe we have been given authority over evil (Luke 9:1).
  • Feel empowered to speak confidently against the enemy (Luke 10:17-19).
  • We have been given the keys (authority) to the kingdom of heaven; therefore, live in this power (Matthew 16:19, Revelation 1:18).

Do you have memories of experiencing God in different "climates and geography"? Trail Running is a six week blog series looking at different environments we see Jesus face-to-face.

THE RAINFOREST (coming next week)


ali grayson said...

Thanks for the great posts, Edy. You rock my socks off!

Love the FlickR Slideshow pics too!

much love from CO ~ ali