Interestingly, I recently have had the honor of coming along one who was battling, and finding it a most difficult struggle, a life’s struggle. And before we ponder the essence of the struggle, counter attack’s of the enemy, and definition of said victory or not, it might be of more worth a the line or two of this simple blog to recognize the element’s that would maybe define a key moment’s in the struggle.
For the sake of protecting the identity of anyone who might find the word’s that follow descriptive of themselves, we will call our character Ali. A more beautiful child of God, has He in this miraculous universe, yet to create. Frail but strong in her soft blonde ringlet’s, eye’s bright with diamond cascade’s of like, that reflect but a fraction of the purity that dwell’s within.
How sweet she sit’s pondering the flower’s that rest just within her reach, caressing with the softest respect the petal’s of the many colored hues God has given her. She has long grown accepting with joyous thanksgiving for all that God has chosen to bless her within her direct view, and reach. Limited as it is to the place she find’s herself.
She tenderly rest’s on a mat, feet comfortably folded like the graceful leg’s of a young newborn deer. For long has the day been of late when she has desired to run with the wind, but long ago the affliction struck, and set it’s destructive teeth into the soft tender flesh, the leg’s of this perfect young child of God, restricting her to the life of resting on this mat.
“The mat is not so bad”, she has often told herself, it has it’s own granted attributes of comfort, giving her but a soft cushion to deal with the harder irregularities of the earth. Even in all the comfort’s it might afford her, she still find’s it a bit of a nuisance, for it has it’s own binding characteristic’s that seem to shackle or chain her to the very ground she uses it to protect her from.
She does have to carry it around, and that is of course when she also has to depend on other’s to carry her. That is of course when she is not crawling or hobbling with all effort and pain to just move forward within the restriction’s of the life her crippled leg’s have afforded her.
How she has on more then one occasion dreamed of just picking up that mat and walking. Wind’s flowing through her hair as the soft gentle breezes and soft flowery scents wisp by in their own joyful harmonies. Views souring with the bird’s, high above the ground she has so long been fastened to, many are the color’s of flower’s anew.
In every dream Jesus just comfortably walk’s by, saying with the greatest of ease; “Pick up your mat and walk.” and she stand’s. His Majesty, bound in bright confidence, leave nothing in the heart but pure ability to obey. What a beautiful dream.
Shackle’s or chain’s have their own hard qualities that are inherently specific to them;
They hold someone fast, restricting the child to the degree from which the full potential the Lord of the Universe has created for is limited. Keeping them in a place, restricting her view, even limiting her to a life less then the full majesty God has given her. Her movement’s and thus her freedom is restricted, inherent is it to all chain’s we bare, irrelevant if they are one’s that rest within the physical, have been placed on us, or one’s we take on ourself.
They are alway’s a burden, withholding the person’s progress, disabling a child’s ability to run the race God would have her run. Slowing them down from the speed God has granted them even from before they were born. Difficult it is to run a good race when the ability to run has been taken from you, or even in some cases freely given away. We are so guilty of chaining ourselves often.
They need constant attention, left unattended they will press against the softest tenderest places on the inside’s of the wrist’s and ankles. First irritating, then later blistering, the constant habitual pressure can even lead to wound’s, and festering ulcer’s, that have the potential to breach the inside of our young child’s body. This can lead to sickness and even death. Their constant irritant’s are very stressful, a nagging continual pestering itch that never seem’s to stop whispering it’s scream’s into a person’s ear.
This habitual attention requires the use of many resources, those of which God has certainly granted her for better use, to other purposes. Wasting money on cleaning or lubricating the shackles and chain’s, while being put to a needed use, at this time, is waste all the same. If the shackle wasn’t there, that gift of a few coin’s could have been used for something much more blessing for the child, and thus the Kingdom.
But finally the most damaging of all, is the overall effect the chain’s have on the child’s heart, that of which being the ultimate plan of the enemy, his diabolical intention to restrict and enslave all of which belong’s to God. The day we believe we can not be free’d from our chain’s, is the day we give in to the enemy as master of that part of our life, turning our back’s on a God, who want’s nothing more then to have us live and seek Him in freedom.
“Let the children freely come to Me, and do not hinder them” I hear Him softly say.
How interesting is the fact that the very place shackles and chain’s that bind man, are the very same places Jesus the Liberator of all shackles and chain’s, was nailed to the cross. Those hand’s and feet that were nailed to that tree, took the burden upon Himself, and it was that victory over death, granting us liberation to all like shackle’s and chain’s. Is it not a slap in the face of His sacrifice, to say; “We can’t be free!”, when He has already freed us?
Now what are the chain’s and shackle’s in Ali’s case?
Are they infirmity that has caused her all these years to sit on the mat, unable to get up herself without some kind of help? Yes, and while it is nice to have help, and doesn’t it even bless people when they have the opportunity to offer help? But have they really helped her, or by making it easy for her to live like this, have they inadvertently further handicapped her with dependency. Yes, that same dependency, has her chained in body, and mind, encompassing all that in which she might be through Christ Jesus, as He intended.
Is it her own mind that has told her for oh so long, “you have tried it all, said every conceivable type of prayer, listened to all the various word’s spoken into your young woman’s life, for a very long time!”, after a while, a person can almost not dare to hope any longer? Are the chain’s and shackles the loss of hope?
Is it the mat, she has become so accustomed to for comfort, being itself some kind of relaxation, getting to the place in her mind where she, the very thought of being without it, launches her in to a world of anxiety one dare’s go to any more? What was designed to give her comfort, grant her some king of protection of the hardship’s of the earth, becomes a crutch itself, a chain. She has tried, and the pain that has followed, and would most assuredly this time follow again, she would rather not re-visit, so are the doubt’s that wrestle with her thought’s daily.
Or is it the constant attack of the enemy that pop’s into her mind, and sometimes even outside; people who egg her on, speak doubt into her life, even want her to stay where she is as to keep them company. So do they curse her with their word’s. Sometimes images, voice’s, thought’s, even smell’s, and bizarre taste’s of all sort’s of enemy attack’s; pushing, prodding, distracting, and harassing to the point where she’s often just willing to give in, lest to get them to stop?
A cleaver attacker will always seek a person’s most vulnerable spot, her “Achilles Heel”, once found will use it relentlessly. Like animal’s they will claw away at the weakness until they open it up wide. The funny thing is, we will often open the window ourselves, just by continuing to frequent the action that get’s us in trouble in the first place.
We don’t even know it, but it is our choices, that put the cracks, the wedges, the weaknesses in out house, and we can pray for the animal’s to be driven out, but when we are just opening the window’s back up with our own hand’s, our free will, we are basically inviting them in.
It is almost like that addiction, that idol, is placing a wood wedge into a window in our house, we don’t even know we are doing it at time’s ourself. But when the wedge is in, the animal’s can get their claws in, and pull it open fully. Where only a draft might have sometimes penetrated earlier, now a gaping hole exists. The wedge give’s the animal all it need’s to push open the window or door, and before you know it, you have a whole pack inside.
Once this weakness is found, the enemy will keep at it, first just clawing, pestering, bothering, itching, but will never give up, until either the weakness or crack is discovered and sealed up, never to be opened again, or the animal finally win’s. The enemy will only be satisfied with complete infiltration, using and abusing the home until it has been completely used up and destroyed.
Well, I believe in Ali’s case, it may be a combination of all, and that can be a dangerous and destructive angle of attack. Difficult it is to defend when the attack is coming from many different direction’s, many different attacker’s, many hole’s.
Somewhere along the way she found Jesus, and while she may feel she found Him, she quickly realized He was seeking her. Hole’s begin to close! Now more then ever the thought of the mat and being trapped to the ground seems more and more against the perfect will of her Lord. But what to do, she still is sitting on the mat?
Not long time following, day’s that move through the blink of a breath of God’s loving heart, another small child named Peter meander’s along his own road and comes but a moment to sit beside Ali.
Mozart’s finest symphony, Da Vinci’s greatest painting, the softest velvet, the sweetest flower’s, the tenderest babies kiss, all pale in comparison, to even the smallest gift from God, when our two children but take a moment and stop to see.
“Why do you sit on that mat?” the small child Peter says.
“I have to, the condition of my leg’s make me use it,” she softly say’s with more of an embarrassment then a statement of fact, “but some day, soon, God will deliver me and I will walk.”
“Why doesn’t He deliver you now?” the boy say’s in contemplative confusion.
“He will, just not yet, I saw it in a dream,” she said with a smile of confidence.
“He came by and said; Stand up, pick up your mat and walk! and I picked up my mat and could walk.” she continued as she played with the flowers close by.
The boy had a inquisitive look on his face, raised an eyebrow, and then asked; “Who said that?”
“Jesus” she said with a bit of a laugh, as if asking who could it otherwise be.
“He said that, then why are you still on the mat?” now the boy is totally confused.
“It was a dream, but I believe it will come true some day, when God is ready, He will lift me up and make me walk,” at this point she is looking right at him, as if he should understand.
“My Father told me, God never makes us do anything, only prompt’s us to do thing’s that are good for us, in his will, this is called free will.” Peter added with a great deal of confidence.
“I think if He showed you, He want’s you to walk, then that is in His will, and you can walk.” He add’s with a smile.
“I can’t, I’ve tried, It’s to hard, I need help.” she say’s with a voice that now border’s on tears.
“In the Kingdom there is no such thing as I can’t, only I won’t!” the boy says with confidence.
And continues; “All thing’s are possible to him who believes” the boy add’s with a smile, “I’ll help you.”
But then He cautiously add’s; “Do you want to walk?”
“Yes” she says now through her sobs.
“How?” she say’s now maybe just a bit interested, curious, but still filled with much fear.
The little boy stands up and stretches out his hand to the trembling Daughter of the most High; “Don’t be afraid, Jesus lives in me, and if that is so, and I say; pick up your mat and walk, it is He that says it, because He gives me the word’s, those are His word’s.”
“Pick up your mat and walk!” Peter says stretching out his little hand, “I am not going to lift you, but only give you a hand.”
“I’m afraid”, she say’s now with tears running down her face.
Smiling with the sweetest smile that could ever have been on a youthful face of Christ, Peter say’s; “He give’s me the strength to say it, His strength.”
“The same strength He give’s you, there is no difference.”
“Jesus said; greater thing’s then I do, shall you do to, because I am with my Father.”
“Give me your hand, pick up your mat and stand.”
The little girl with perfect ringlets of blonde golden hair, a beautiful smile set in frustrated but hopeful fear, a pure perfect quiver of resound, as she set’s her little lip’s to try, they glimmer with a shine that harbor’s every creative majesty a Glorious God, could have ever painted.
The boy could not help but notice; dazzling are the eye’s, the light that burn’s within, sparkling wet with the water’s of her tears as she reaches her tender little hand to his, and softly say’s; “I believe, now help me with my unbelief.”
And Peter gently takes her hand in his, and lift’s her with just a hint of strength, seeded with marbled veins of a tender tug, as she lift’s up onto her fragile leg’s, frail beautiful are they in their perfection, that haven’t held her weight for year’s.
“It hurt’s” she say’s, tear mingled as much with the emotion’s fear and joy, as the salt of her soft young cheek.
“Pick up your mat.” he reminds her, “because Christ himself told a man many years ago to pick up his mat and walk, so the mat must be important for something.”
“Ali, pick up your cross.”
She bend’s only slightly and pick’s the mat from the ground, then straighten’s up, just a little higher then a moment before.
“How do you feel?” he say’s more out of curiosity.
“Scared, pain, but I feel good to, I feel a tingling going through my body like a nervous tickle, is that God?” she asks.
“Does it feel good?” the boy ask’s with an increasing lighted smile.
“Yes” She says, smile erupting across her beautiful face like the first morning sun, blazing early morning white’s, her happiness dancing across it’s horizon.
“Then it has to be God, all good things come from God”, Peter’s smile matching hers.
“Time to walk.”
“Take your mat with you, and when you don’t need it any more, throw it away, or maybe give it to someone else.”
“I still have the pain”, she says with a bit of disappointment, “maybe even more then when I was on the mat.” Whispering shouting their arrow’s of pain into her heart.
“Don’t speak any curse back into your life!” the boy solemnly say’s, “Just believe, and turn from that pain.” “You are walking, you are healed.” “Believe.”
“I do!” she say’s straightening just a bit more then a moment ago.
“Let’s take a step or two.” He say’s with tender touch, and soft gentle voice, it’s caressing finger’s holding lovingly fast to the heartbeat’s of her ear’s.
“I wish God would take this pain away, I thought He would.” the sweet tender dear of a child said with tear’s.
“When you had your dream, did Jesus say, He would take away your pain, or did He just say; pick up your mat and walk?” the boy say’s now with all the encouragement he can muster in his young voice.
But before she can answer he softly say’s; “Shall we sit back down awhile, you still have your mat?”
“No” she say’s and set’s her lip’s again, “I’m want to be healed, I want to walk.” “I can do this!”
“You are already healed,” Peter say’s with the smallest purest little laugh, “you were healed the moment you reached up your hand.”
Today a step or two, tomorrow a few, a week later walking has started anew, the thought she need’s to turn from any doubt’s that comes, as they come.
The enemy tries, but weaker his voice becomes, with every day that passes, and as the week’s turn into month’s, and the steps turn into playful running, through gentle field’s of flowing flower’s, a cartwheel long replaces the mat who’s resting place has long been forgotten.
And so is it also with the chain’s, who’s memories and pain’s, have long ago been discarded, released and forgotten even as the voices of the creatures that are but in dim memory, their faded haunting driven from her home. No longer have they a place, shut out only to scream in their own lonely cries, as they might resound from some long distant hill far foregone and forby, no longer even a tickle in her thought’s, long ago thrown away dwindle as the wind’s of yesterday fade from the skin, and can hardly be remembered, and gone.
By Peter Colla
“Lord deliver me from all of my shackle’s and chain’s, and give me the strength, to even as I pick up my mat, my cross, to never look back, never doubting the deliverance, the heeling you have bought me with your blood.”