One of the worst things about adding on the years is that feeling that you are running out of time– to get it right, to fix the broken things, learn how to live well– and after all this time, shouldn’t you be getting better at all of this? What if there simply aren’t enough second chances in life, or even third, fourth, or fifth ones? Maybe after all the blind alleys you’ve run down, and all the winding detours, you just stop wherever you are someday, and that’s as far as you get. It’s a recurring thought that haunts me.
But we talk around the table about recognizing the real Enemy of our souls. About fighting the real battles in life instead of the flesh-and-blood people we see everyday. And how we have been hearing the roaring lies of that Adversary all our lives, until it is just so much background noise. We encourage one another to examine the words we tell ourselves, and replace the lies with Scripture-truth, one line at a time. A habit has to start somewhere, so we take the first step again and again every day. It takes practice to build any skill, and the beloved disciple John reminds us that it is our responsibility to seek out truth and walk in its light, because “God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5). He is crystal clear about the outcome of our efforts: “…if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.” (1 John 1:7) And as we ask for wisdom and eyes to see, the truth takes root in our souls.
A sister-mentor writes this week in startling black and white that “you aren’t all you want to be and neither is anyone you love” (Ann VosKamp), and there is a sudden burst of clarity– what CS Lewis called undeception— that reveals my haunting fear as nothing more than the Enemy’s roaring in the night. Every glossy magazine article out there, each stunning decorating idea and delicious recipe we pin, every beautiful photo in a blog post, each crammed-full calendar page is subtle pressure to measure up. Every opinion from someone we care about, even the helpful book on how to improve this-or-that weighs in on the phantom scale measuring the worth of our lives. It’s no wonder that women suffer from anxiety and depression. But you know, even if everyone is convinced of the same lie, it doesn’t make it any less false. I could work myself to the grave and never satisfy those impossible standards. I bow broken to realize that I will never be enough….we are all not-enough…. and that is the bare truth that takes a certain kind of courage to face. It feels like fighting my way through the shell of this world, splintering through the veneer of perfection into a freedom that admits my inability and is content to be real and imperfect, because Christ is sufficient in all of His glory. Happy are the poor in spirit, who know they are beggars in every way that matters, for the King of Heaven has come down to them with outstretched arms.
Who I am is not about what I have done but about the Creator who made me and knows me by name, calls me His own and beloved. Nothing I fear, and nothing I have done will change who He is or how He sees me. This is truth to stand on and truth that can fight the Enemy’s lies. For every misdirection the Adversary throws at me, there is an answering Word of Scripture that solidly defends against his attack. The Church-planter Paul sums it up in one of his most beloved paragraphs, and I can only imagine the joyful tears and hallelujahs that were offered up in the gathering when this letter was first read aloud to the early believers: “Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us….I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:34, 37-39) Amen and amen.
The years of my life will be full of mistakes and detours and slow-learning lessons. But they will also be full of the grace and lovingkindness of the Savior. And there will be just the right number of years for this honestly real and not-enough girl to do the things He has for me to do. The Church-planter writes confidently, “And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue His work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” (Philippians 1:6) He will be enough for me in whatever time I have left.
Shame takes what we’ve done and uses it to attack who we are….Shame can only operate in the shadows of our fears, but when we bring those fears to light they lose their power….See, truth does the opposite of shame. Truth takes who we are and uses it to attack what we’ve done….We do all of this with God’s word because nothing is truer than what God has said.Paul Jenkins
In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one…. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.Ephesians 6:16,18