Called to struggle

By Erika Rizkallah

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. Ephesians 6:12

Out of the darkness comes light. Do you believe this?

Whenever a mass killing streams across news headlines I try not to spend too much time in front of the television. It doesn’t matter if it’s in the form of a natural disaster or at the hands of a psychopath.

It’s too painful and I tend to absorb the energy of those who’ve suffered and lost.

However, the Orlando attack resonated with me; it could have been me in that bar. I don’t go to bars now (because I’m sober) but a long time ago, I frequented gay bars in my old hometown. It was the best place for a young woman to dance the night away without being hit on by sloshed and groping men.

Last night I forced myself to listen to the many survivor stories and I can’t get two of them out of my head.

The first was about a guy who’d made it out unharmed. On the way, he found a man who’d been shot three times – one was a life-threatening shot in the back. He helped him to a waiting police car for transport to the hospital. The officer had him shove his shirt in the bullet wound and instructed him to bear hug the guy all the way to the hospital. It was a human tourniquet and would help keep him from bleeding to death. Bloody and hugging the injured man, the good Samaritan said, “Can I pray for you?” He then cried out to God on the man’s behalf and comforted him, telling him everything would be alright.

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He silently begged God that his words would be true. His prayer was answered.

The next story was told by a man hiding in a bathroom stall with others when the shooter came in. He says they begged him not to shoot. The killer laughed and sprayed bullets. The survivor told the reporter the laughter sounded satisfied. It was a laugh unlike any he’d ever heard before.

He then went on to say, “It sounded like it came from another world.”

I don’t doubt it. The Bible clearly states that our world is increasingly evil. Because of this, we’re called to struggle.

We are called to strenuously resist our own evil inclinations and fight against the forces of darkness. We’re called to struggle in prayer.

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Prayer is our weapon. Faith is our shield. His word is our sword.

Today will you pick up your weapons and fight with me?

 

Walking in obedience to God’s leading

By Erika Rizkallah

More wisdom from old books for this Saturday night. The short excerpt is from Daily Strength for Daily Needs by Mary W. Tileston which I found at an estate sale. I just love old books filled with nuggets of truth — especially when they cost fifty cents!

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Daily Strength for Daily Needs

We mustn’t be in a hurry to fix and choose our own lot; we must wait to be guided. We are led on, like the little children, by a way that we know not. It is a vain thought to flee from the work that God appoints us, for the sake of finding a greater blessing to our own souls; as if we could choose for ourselves where we shall find the fulness of the Divine Presence, instead of seeking it where alone it is to be found, in loving obedience. ~ George Eliot

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          walking like the little children

I must admit I’m not used to seeing fulness spelled without a double “L” so I looked it up to make sure it was correct. The strength of one of the definitions got my attention.

Fullness: The state of being complete or whole.

I picture Jesus walking toward Golgotha (the site of his crucifixion) and staggering under the weight of his cross. The thought of it – being obedient like that – makes me want to take off. Then I realize Jesus was not only walking to the place of his death, but toward the fullness of the Divine Presence.

If I call myself a disciple I must allow myself to be guided, even when every fiber of my being says flee.

Your Turn: How hard or easy is it for you to wait for God’s leading?

The key to calm in the storm

By Erika Rizkallah

As I wrote this post, a storm raged outside. It’s name was Joaquin.

Isn’t naming storms strange? I’m not sure why we do this. Why do we try to “humanize” a havoc wreaking force of nature? It’s not as if Joaquin is a friendly visitor popping in for coffee. No . . . Joaquin is no friend of mine. He’s flooding my town and turning my backyard into a swimming pool.

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See, there I go using the pronoun “he” for what’s really a large mass of wind and rain. It’s a storm for Pete’s sake! And who is Pete and why is this a phrase?

I guess it’s part of our need to name things and somehow understand them better. It gives us a sense of control over the mysterious. Oh sure, science has it all figured out so we no longer consider them “Acts of God” (until our insurance denies the claim – then it’s God’s fault.) We know what elements cause storms in our earthly environment, but what about the “storms of life?”

Who or what causes them? Do they really strengthen us as people claim or just leave a mess of nasty debris that needs to be cleaned up?

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Are you experiencing a hurricane of your own? Has a crisis whirled through your life like a tornado?

As my friend Sondra would say, “Rest in Jesus.”

He knows all about storms. Once when he and his disciples were cruising across the Sea of Galilee (actually a large lake), a perilous storm arose. Even today fierce storms suddenly occur on this lake, creating waves as high as twenty feet.

The account is written in the Bible in Luke 8:23: As they sailed, he fell asleep. A squall came down on the lake, so that the boat was being swamped, and they were in great danger. The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!” He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm. “Where is your faith?” He asked his disciples.

Jesus is almighty and all power in heaven and on earth has been given to him. He will still the storms but we need faith in order to see it played out in our lives.

Let’s pray!: Heavenly Father, you are mighty and rescue us from trouble. Help us navigate through our trials with grace and peace. Help us trust you when it appears you are asleep to our problems. We know you have good plans for us and we ask that your timing and will be done in our lives. Amen.