"It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I may learn your statutes." Psalm 119:71

Sunday, May 29, 2011


One of my role models is a woman named Tana who is the mother of a friend of mine. I haven't seen her or spoken to her in years. But she was one of my teachers in Missionettes when I was a teenager and she made such an impact on me that I think about her often when life throws me curve balls. Tana was always smiling, ready to help or offer encouragement, and she had this very peaceful attitude about her. As an unruly teenager, I looked at her and saw a very modest, Biblically wise person. But somehow, she never came off as judgemental, which, sadly, is how people who know their Bible as well as she, usually come off. Interestingly, Tana is also a cancer survivor. I don't know how far news of my recent illness has spread, so I don't know if Tana is aware of my blog or not (Are you out there, Tana?)...

But the reason I bring her up is because she said something to me many years ago, and I've been thinking about it a lot lately. It isn't going to be profound like you might expect after reading her glowing introduction. In fact, it's quite comical. Tana and I were joking about Harry Connick Jr. one night. I said I thought he was cute (still do) and Tana made a face and said that, to her, he looked like he'd fallen out of an ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down!

Now, this may be an odd thing for me to remember from 15 or more years ago. But because of Tana's serene and sweet nature, this zing at poor Harry"s expense has always been a favorite memory of mine.

I hinted in my last post that I've got some inner turmoil going on right now. I feel in the midst of a battle. And the best way for me to explain it, is to say that I'm falling off a tree and hitting every branch on the way down. It's a Tree of Pride. And God's pushing me off of it. But just one branch at a time. When I started praying for God to take my pride it was probably about three years ago. And I had no idea how far I had to go!

So here I am- falling off branches as the wind of the Holy Spirit moves, knocking my teeth on the bark, skinning my knees on the twigs, and the whole time, all I can think is, "C'mon! There's got to be a better way!" But I know there isn't. I know if God snapped his fingers and miraculously changed my heart and eliminated my pride and dependence on self, that He'd be robbing me of the lessons in the meantime. And He'd be keeping me from seeing the miracles in His methods!

The hardest part is that my enemy wants to keep me at the top of that Tree of Pride. He likes me there thinking that I'm in control; that my way's best. So, he's fighting my descent. And I feel it very acutely. I'm in the midst of a battle! Honestly, everything I touch lately has fallen apart and I've had to face down embarrassments and failures. I've been trying to do what God wants, and things haven't been working out like I'd hoped. And so I've been dealing with feelings of inferiority that I know aren't coming from a Godly place. I can see how Satan will win the battle if he gets me to pick up the reigns again. If he can get me to believe that things were going better when I was in control, then he gets his way.

But he forgot one thing. Satan forgot that my war cry is, "Here am I! Send me!" And so I will go where God wants and suffer failure in the eyes of humans, so that I can say to God that his opinion mattered more to me than my reputation!

What a high, high, humbling calling-- to know that God wants to prune you, to break you, to mold you so that in the end, you're something He can use in His Heavenly plans! When I get to the bottom of my current "tree," and I find myself lying with my back on the dirty ground, I'll sing praises to God! For then I'll truly be in a position to only look up! God, thank you in advance, for the day when my self-reliance is gone and I can be an open, empty vessel, wanting only to please You!

The wait is painful.
The fall is excruciating.
The fight is exciting! 
The glory is God's.
The challenge is for both you and me.
And the reward waits in Heaven!

John 15

The Vine and the Branches
 1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes[a] so that it will be even more fruitful. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.    5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

Ephesians 6

The Armor of God
 10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.  

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