an ideal post for holy week. completely unplanned by me. but Someone else seems to have impeccable timing...
maxx and i started reading the screwtape letters out loud to each other at night (tell me that you have read this book because it is seriously some amazing writing. and if you haven’t read it STOP READING MY BLOG and go and get the screwtape letters and read that instead.) the book starts with the following quotations...
“The best way to drive out the devil,
if he will not yield to texts of Scripture,
is to jeer and flout him,
for he cannot bear scorn,”
“the devil… the prowde spirite… cannot endure to be mocked.”
and it made me a tiny bit excited because i do so love to make the devil mad...
i just forget how he likes to do the same thing to me. i shouldn’t get so excited to make him mad.
well, the devil decided to parlay my little chess move (which means they were right and he isn't thrilled maxx and i are jeering him via c.s. lewis) and make a move of his own back. it really PISSES ME OFF (sorry for the language, but there just wasn't another word that had the same feel to it) when he uses my kids as his pawn sometimes... good thing i have a King to come to my defense...
we had one of those thorny “teenage moments” at the house last night. i am sure it was brought to you by yours UNtruly. i was told in a very honest conversation that some teenagers don’t like to hug their moms. were you aware of this? i am now painfully aware. some of them also don’t always like their mom rubbing their backs or any other signs of physical affection. teenagers can be downright thorny at times (note that i said “thorny” with a t. duly noted.)
the devil loves the foothold of a mother scorned. a mother whose feelings are hurt do a lot of satan’s work for him. and i don’t like to work for satan. i don’t like to work at all. you know satan doesn’t have good benefits. no retirement plan. no fire insurance. i could go on here people...
so now i was pretty mad at satan. this was a power move on his part and he plays dirty. making me get all emotional and controlling and “i will hug whomever i want to hug whenever i wants to hug them”. nothing like some overreaction to a little suggestion to really fall into his trap. so just to spite him (and to assuage my hurt feelings and take them to SomeOne who really can heal your wounds) i went to bed singing a hymn just to really make satan even madder (john piper once preached a sermon about ambushing satan with song... ) and as an additional reminder to him as to Who is really in control over in these parts i first walked down the hallway whispering "Jesus is Lord. He Reigns. He Rules. He Redeems all things." take that, you big fat liar. stop messing with the redeemed.
then this morning i sat down at my place at the end of the table where i keep my Bible open and do my Bible study. yesterday morning (WAYYYYYY before satan threw that sucker punch to my gut) i had seen a tweet from someone and it referenced the verse isaiah 55:13 and i had looked up the verse and underlined it. i had thought it was a good verse and had just left my Bible open to that page all day. but hadn't looked at it again until this morning. here is the verse, it went from being a good verse to being the PERFECT verse for me in this moment (for those of you who don't have the whole chapter of isaiah 55 memorized...)
Instead of the thornbush will grow the juniper,
and instead of briers the myrtle will grow.
This will be for the LORD’s renown,
for an everlasting sign,
that will endure forever.
and in the message (cuz i have that side by side version that dina gave me)...
No more thistles, but giant sequoias,
no more thorn bushes, but stately pines—
Monuments to me, to God,
living and lasting evidence of God.
God knew that things were going to get thorny and prickly last night. He knew it from before time began. nothing surprises Him. not the thorniness of teenagers. not the stubborn prideful heart of a mother. and He had that Scripture all underlined and set up for me to see FIRST thing this morning. i wept over that page. it might have smeared the underlining a little bit. but it is okay. His love for me overwhelms me at times. i keep praying that He treats me like the village idiot and leads me by the hand into His presence. and then He does it. over and over.
and then it gets even better because i came to the computer to do a little research on those words. here are the hebrew roots of those words...
thorn bush: from a word meaning "to prick".
thorns in the Bible are always "emblems of the wicked".
yeah, who would like a guy (satan) who uses THORNS as his emblems?
i also remembered that on Good Friday that Jesus bled over His crown of thorns. His blood covers whatever satan has made out of thorns. His blood flowed over satan's emblems. i bet that REALLY made satan mad. thus the GOOD in friday.
fir tree: a symbol for godliness. evergreen. a tree of stateliness, a noble tree, material for the temple.
what was satan's emblem will be used a building material for God's temple. wow. that must really make him mad. again.
briers: a dessert plant. and it said "meaning doubtful" which i think means they don't really know what it means but i took it as maybe it means "doubtful". from someone who is doubtful about who God is to someone that grows tall and strong with deep roots in the faith.
another meaning is "something uncultivated". but not something without hope. without promise. without a purpose.
from a primitive root: to burn. of course it means "to burn" because what satan wants to burn God turns into something green and alive. forever.
i found this when searching for meanings of myrtle trees. myrtle is the original hebrew name of esther.
a lowly, but beautiful, fragrant and evergreen shrub...
The prophet Isaiah uses the myrtle to illustrate life and fertility, as he prophesies it growing instead of a plant that symbolizes dearth and drought. The myrtle tree is an evergreen characterized by leaves clustered so densely that the branches can’t even be seen.
The myrtle tree grows slowly, and starts out as just a small shrub, only adding to its stature about twelve inches each year. This means that it takes over a hundred years for this tree to finish growing, but when it matures it is great in size and nothing like the shrub it was when it started. The massive trunk of the full grown myrtle tree is actually several stocks that have grown together over time to make one great tree.
The comparisons abound between a Christian and this remarkable tree. It becomes strong by joining with other trees and becoming one, much like we become a part of the body of Christ—one body with many members (Romans 12:5). Sometimes the Christian is cut down to what looks like nothing, and it can appear to be the end of his/her story because of the tragedy or misfortune that has befallen them, but because those roots run deep, eventually signs of life will begin to emerge and again the child of God will resume growth and vitality (2 Corinthians 4:7-11).
Those roots are what led me to the most important lesson this myrtle tree conveyed to me. In my reading about the myrtle tree, I found out that the wood of this tree is used to make a variety of beautiful pieces of furniture and decorations carved by craftsmen of the northwest. The beauty of myrtle wood is that it varies in color and design because of where it grows. As the roots draw minerals from the soil, those minerals color the wood giving it its beautiful variety of colors. This variety enables it to be used in all kinds of settings because its versatility lends to it being able to work well with other pieces that may already be in someone’s home.
When I read this, I pictured God’s people as myrtle trees, who are planted in rich soil, saturated with the word of God, drawing from an unending source of strength and wisdom for every situation. This believer is equipped with everything needed for every purpose for which God intends to use them. The versatility of the Spirit of God is shown in the numerous gifts that he has given to the church by one Spirit. We draw from the same spirit, but we are as diverse in gifting and uses as our great and diverse God.
Roots that run deep speak of being entrenched and having a firm foundation so that nothing sways or moves us. When the water on the surface has dried up, the tree that is rooted will still draw water from deep within the earth that will sustain it. When situations around us appear to be hopeless with no sign of getting better, we can draw from the Spirit of God within us, who is able to sustain us with the assurance that we are his, reminding us of his word and that what he has spoken will come to pass.
Lastly, the myrtle tree has a myriad of grain patterns. I read that each tree’s pattern is developed by the things that occur in its surroundings. So each storm, and each draught, every adverse condition and every pleasurable season, contributes to the beautiful design displayed in the wood of the myrtle tree. When it is molded in the hands of the craftsman, after some cutting away; sanding here, and shaping there, the myrtle wood becomes a beautiful creation. Pieces made from this wood often become treasured heirlooms because of the years of growth that took place to get the wood to maturity, before it even began the process of being molded into what it was to become.
Likewise, we go through a process before we reach the finished product that God had in mind before we were ever born. We grow through various storms and adverse conditions in our lives, and sometimes things happen that cut us down and it feels like we are starting over again. But all of our trials and tribulations, and the good times that we experience, contribute to the raw beauty of who we are. Before we are ever brought into the body of Christ, we come from a place that has shaped who we are thus far. Our experiences have shaped us, and given us a different perspective than anyone else. They make us material with which God can shape and mold a vessel that serves his purpose. I believe that God’s hand was as much involved in the making of us before we yielded to him as it is now, our eyes were just not open to the fact that he was at work. Since no two purposes are alike, it makes sense that the circumstances and conditions that we come through to get to our place of purpose are also as different as each of us. We can’t really compare ourselves to one another, because each of us is unique and created for a unique purpose. Where we are planted, and the environment in which we grow were all planned out by God, contributing to the finished product we will become.
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God,
to them who are called according to His purpose.
hmmm, i think in this round is it God- 1,000,000,000,000,000... vs. satan- 0. i eagerly await his response. because i KNOW that my God is faithful and has already prepared every blow against satan. prepared it before the beginning of time. and finished the battle on the cross. i just get to stand in awe and watch Him work it out...
i will let you know when i see the beginnings of a myrtle tree out of all these thorns. it may take a while but i have His Word on it that one will grow. ever green.