I love mashed potatoes. They fall under the category of "blessing" in my book. Due to the chemo and the sickness I've felt after each treatment, mashed potatoes have been my bread AND my water. And as much as I love mashed potatoes, I'm getting a little tired of them.
God seems to work that way in my life as well. Sometimes I will hear a sermon, study a lesson, or in passing have a conversation with someone and the theme is always the same. That's when I know God Most High is trying to tell me something. Don't tell me it's a coincidence. It's a God-incidence. God speaks to me in a language I understand and He knows how hard headed I can be. Therefore, in His patience and everlasting love, He brings up a point to me time after time, until I finally understand and it sinks into the marrow of my bones and I can live the thing out.
Chemo #3 has been nothing out of the ordinary physically. But mentally, emotionally and spiritually, it has taken it's toll. The point I believe God is making to me is to stand. My good friend, Tammy, brought it up to me today. Sometimes you just need someone to tell you what you've been thinking all along. God is good that way and He is urging His children to believe that He is believable.
For those who grew up in church, you've no doubt heard of the armor of God. Ephesians has always been one of my favorite books of the bible, and the armor of God described in Ephesians 6 is no small thing to me. It is how we maneuver the battles we face in life. I love how the bible describes heaven and the joy we will have there and the home that God has prepared for us. But God didn't create us and leave us here to figure it out on our own. Jesus said in John 10 that He came so that we may have life, and have it to the full. God did not create us, put us on this earth, give it a whirl and said, "I'll see you in heaven." He knew we would need some help. So, among other things, He gave us the armor of God.
I love how Paul writes what he knows. He was chained in a prison in Rome. He saw the soldiers each and every day dressed in their armor. My favorite piece of armor is the belt of truth. It comes first because the other pieces of armor hooked to the actual belt of the Roman armor. You can't wear the breastplate of righteousness and the sword of salvation without some truth to hang it on. Each piece of armor protects a major part of the body: the waist, the chest, the head, and the feet. Isn't in interesting that there is no armor for the back? Why? Because God never intended for His children to turn their back on their enemy. I've said it before and I'll say it again: we are allowed to intimidate the kingdom of darkness.
And so as God has brought me through this journey of cancer, He has driven home the point to me over and over that I must fight. Today I had no strength to fight. So I called Tammy. She is a lifelong friend whom I love dearly. I told her I was having trouble focusing and thinking. I was becoming paranoid and feeling as though my life will never be the same again. Praise God that through His blessing, all can be recovered.
As I was talking to her about how I believe God has asked me to fight this battle and how I've prayed to keep my armor on, she said to me, "Oh Candy. It also says to stand and we will hold you up if you can't stand." She's right. 4 times in Ephesians 6:11-14, the word stand is used. I recalled how in Exodus 17, Aaron and Hur held up the arms of Moses while the Israelites battled the Amalekites because as long as he held his arms up the Israelites were winning. And he got tired so his friends held up his arms for him.
Praise God that our weaknesses do not strain His strength and that what we see with our eyes and understand with our minds is not the only thing God has going. We talked today about the the spiritual battles going on all around us. John Eldridge writes referring to Daniel 10: 1-3, "Something has happened that Daniel doesn't understand. I think we can all relate to that. We don't understand about 90% of what happens to us, either. Daniel is troubled. He sets out to get an answer. But three weeks of prayer and fasting produce no results. What is he to conclude? If Daniel were like most people, by this point he'd probably be headed towards one of two conclusions: "I'm blowing it", or, "God is holding out on me." He might try confessing every sin and petty offense, in hopes of opening up the lines of communication with God. Or, he might withdraw into a sort of disappointed resignation, drop the fast, and turn on the television. In an effort to hang onto his faith, he might embrace the difficulty as part of "God's will for his life." He might read a book on "the silence of God." That's the way the people I know handle this sort of thing.
And he would be dead wrong.
On the 21st day of the fast an angel shows up, out of breath. In a sort of apology the angel explains to Daniel that God had actually dispatched him in answer to Daniel's prayers the very first day he prayed - three weeks ago. (There goes the whole unanswered prayer thesis, right out the window). Three weeks ago? What is Daniel to do with that? "The very first day? But....I've....I mean, thank you so very much, and I don't want to seem ungrateful, but......where have you been?" "You haven't blown it, Daniel, and God isn't holding out on you." The angel goes on to explain that he was locked in hand-to-hand combat with a mighty fallen angel, a demonic power of dreadful strength, who kept him out of the Persian kingdom for these three weeks, and how he finally had to go get Michael (the great Archangel, the Captain of the Lord's hosts) to come and help him break through enemy lines. "Now I am here, in answer to your prayer. Sorry its taken so long."
It is a good thing to stop and remember that God is completely in control and that He never asks His children to do something and then not provide the strength to carry it out. And sometimes though the battle rages on around us, God only asks us to stand. Steven Curtis Chapman's song Believe Me Now says, "You hear the enemy that's closing in around you and I know that you don't have the strength to fight. But do you have the faith to stand?"
Thank you Tammy, for allowing God to use you and for all the prayer warriors you called upon to help me stand today. Y