Tidbits and Blessings Blog
by Jeanie Malone
I’d love for you to join the conversation. Please share your thoughts in the comments section under each entry.
The first time I planted garlic was the same year that we built our raised beds. One of my high school teachers, the teacher who transitioned our school and community from typewriters to computers, and her well-respected city council member husband were generous to share a bounty of bulbs with locals who wanted to start their own garlic. I was enthused. We typically eat 10-40 cloves each week, so growing our own sounded perfect.
Bought soil won’t have the same nutrient quality as built soil. Bought soil can be packaged as many things, and for what it is, it’s great. But don’t buy a goose expecting a duck. Bought soil is a quick fix to get you started, but it is lacking nutrients that take time to build by amending and working the soil. Many crops including garlic need nutrient-dense soil in order to make a good harvest.
But you have to start somewhere, so we built the garden frames from materials we already had and filled them using the hugelkultur principle of compiling compostable biomass materials. We topped limbs and larger debris with top soil and compost we bought and added smaller, compostable materials such as dead leaves from our own yard along with a stingy amount of expensive, pelleted, organic fertilizer.
Within a week of planting the cloves in our new beds, fresh, green garlic shoots lined the sides, and I expected a good harvest based on that initial growth. After a few weeks of appeared to be stunted growth, I added more of the organic fertilizer.. After two more weeks of unsatisfactory growth, I added some commercial standard triple 13 fertilizer, the magic tonic of much commercially grown vegetation. Nearing time for harvest, I noticed that the blades on my garlic weren’t tall and thick but were somewhat flimsy. It just wasn’t growing like I wanted it to. After the blades died, I pulled up the smallest cloves I’ve ever seen.
A few months after my sad lack of harvest, my former teacher asked how my garlic did. I was so embarrassed to admit my failure. Her husband then gave me a short gardening lesson, informing me of how nutrient-needy garlic is.
Now I realize that I cannot take shortcuts to growing good garlic. These master gardeners shared their secret to success—having good built soil that they continually feed and amend.
I thought of this principle of built versus bought soil in growing relationships. The built being something that takes a lot of consistent effort over time and the bought being convenient, quick fix we often try in efforts to save a marriage, friendship, or other relationship. Often we want a quick turnaround, especially in new relationships. We think, “Well, I was nice to him, so now he should respect me.” We want to quickly build a relationship using materials we already have. Then we throw in some dirt we already own and venture to pour in something flashy fad that promises quick results. We may even add some expensive fertilizer like flashy cars or expensive vacations to ensure good results. Then when harvest time rolls around, we reap weak results. Our relationship hasn’t grown strong in unity and the ability to weather the storms of life.
Some of us continue adding fertilizer late in the season, desperately hoping for a harvest, but then one day we realize the frost killed the plants before any fruit was produced.
The guiding principle I taught as a parent and educator was, “Do what you should when you should how you should, and you’ll be happy with the result.” And depending on the individual and level of understanding, sometimes I would add, “why you should” after the how. I believe this is true for all of us in every aspect of life. There are right and wrong steps, and there is a right and wrong order to things, and there are right and wrong motivations for doing things.
Only the original Gardener can create the timetable from breaking ground to reaping harvest. Whether you plant garlic, pumpkins, or radishes, these all will take a certain number of days to grow. We can do a few things to jumpstart growth like heat lamps or seed blankets, but we have very little control over the length of time God ordained for each fruit to grow to its full potential.
Sometimes in a relationship we exhaust of making contributions to the soil and grow impatient for a harvest. We decide that the six months, six years, or six decades we have labored is more than enough for a harvest. Part of being human seems to be impatience in one way or another.
But some things take longer to grow. According to Penn State Extension, seeds “wake up” and germinate when conditions are right. They lie dormant until then. Instead of seeking God’s wisdom and love for the relationship, adding new amendments and working the relationship so it will breathe healthy, we often give up.
When my husband and I married, we envisioned a wonderful unity of our ministry work as a large part of our marriage. We both felt strongly led by God to minister together.
Even before our nuptials, things seem to start unraveling. A week or so before our wedding, I was in the hospital severely dehydrated and with a couple of infections. This seemed to start a new trend in my health that I kept trying to bolster despite continuing weakness.
My health and our ability to minister together unraveled. Confused and trying to make sense of the drastic contrast from our reality to what we envisioned, my husband started his own downward spiral.
After ten years of nonstop attacks on our marriage, we didn’t even discuss plans to minister together. At the time, we had no plans but trying to figure out how to navigate our individual lives. Ministering together was all but off our radars.
Feeling numb and abandoned, I began praying for my marriage, my husband, my feelings toward my husband, and for our purpose I remembered feeling led to. After many months of doing nothing but hanging on and praying for these things several times every day, something changed. I changed, he changed, and our relationship changed. We started getting closer than ever before. Our passion for one another and our passion to live our purpose together was not just smoldering but on fire completely.
After a few months of growing closer and thanking God for our rekindled romance, we realized that we needed to nurture the relationship for it to grow stronger and fully blossom. We had to fan the flames to keep the fire going. We added in some new priorities and practices. My husband made Friday night date nights a priority in his tight schedule. I studied up to be a good masseuse. Together we planned fun meals and played old board games. We made time for one another every day, no matter how busy or tired we were.
It wasn’t just the new habits that fanned the flames. It was the attitudes behind the habits. We took an honest look at our lives, remembering the vision God gave us, and recommitted to doing our part—something we didn’t quite fully grasp when we started this journey over twelve years ago. We had a long engagement, did pre-marital counseling, discussed our objectives, but then along the way in all the busyness and attacks on our marriage and purpose, we lost focus. We hadn’t prepared realistically against the attacks guaranteed to come our way.
Just as the healthy built soil that gives a good harvest isn’t left alone without additions and amendments, a healthy relationship isn’t left alone, either. It needs good things added in, it needs to be worked so it breathes, and it needs the weeds picked out. Sometimes we expect a good harvest in a relationship just because it has been a part of our life for so long. But a garden left untended only grows weeds. The same is true in relationships. Weeds deplete healthy soil of nutrients, and weeds in our relationships deplete our energy, desires, focus, and efforts so there isn’t anything left to nurture the relationship. We must continually work on our relationships, just like building soil for a productive garden.
What’s the Spirit of Your Communication?
Proverbs 15:4—A wholesome tongue is a tree of life: But perverseness therein is a breach in the spirit. The Hebrew word used for “spirit” in this verse is translated as “ruach,” meaning “breath, wind, spirit.” This is the same word used for “Spirit” in many verses in reference to the Spirit of the LORD, such as in Messianic prophecy in Isaiah 11:1-5:
1 And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots: 2 And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord; 3 And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the Lord: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears: 4 But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked. 5 And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins.
In verse 2, we see the characteristics of the spirit of the Lord:
We can know if we are implementing these two greatest commandments by checking if we are reflecting Jesus’ character in our lives and relationships.
We might be quick to agree that we live with Godly wisdom, understanding, and knowledge, but let us judge by our fruit. Do we judge by what we see and hear? Do we live with righteousness only God can give? What is righteousness? Righteousness can also be thought of as “rightness” and entails accuracy, fairness, and justice. Even when we think we are right and righteous, we should verify by God’s Word. A good way to know for sure is to ask if we are judging someone or something by only what we see and hear, or only what we see and hear with our perception added to the mix. Do we judge by what we think? If we are personally offended, it’s likely that we are adding our own perception and personal judgment.
God’s design for every relationship is to draw us nearer to Himself. Sometimes we are the vessels used to show others His love, and sometimes we are on the receiving end. Ideal relationships grow all parties closer to the Creator.
But in this broken world, most relationships are broken as well. That doesn’t mean we should throw up our hands and quit when a person seems hell-bent on being hell-bent. We should see rejection and opposition as opportunities for intercessory prayer.
We are to plead to God on behalf of the other person. It’s important that we pray God’s Will and not interject our own perception into our prayers. What we know is God’s Will is for the other person to be a living vessel of honor submitted and completely reliant upon God for life and breath and direction. God doesn’t want us to make one decision without Him because He knows that alone we will mess it up, just as Adam and Eve messed it up in the beginning.
Our commitment to the relationship is a commitment to God to show His love to the other person. The love we have for someone comes from God. The determination we have for doing our part, regardless of how that person behaves, comes from God. Our love for someone does not depend on that person’s current determination, or lack thereof, to have a right relationship with God.
Our value of and respect for others doesn’t come from their beliefs and actions, it comes from our beliefs. When we understand this, we are in control to remain steadfast, regardless of the other person’s behavior. How we behave and respond toward others is a direct reflection of our relationship with Christ. It’s not always reflective of how the other person sees and treats us. Often, it’s an apparent contrast.
Two pieces of advice this week for your communications and relationships: Have a heavenly state of mind and leave the consequences up to God. Don’t worry so much about the other person’s response. Prayerfully, carefully choose your words after listening and seeking to empathize with the other person. Do all things with God’s love, and you’ll leave no room for selfish ambition. If things don’t go as you intend or hope, just keep prayerfully, carefully considering your own attitudes and actions, and leave the rest of to God. Just do your part, not trying to do His.
I love the example we have of King David in Psalm 27. He desires the LORD. He has enemies and knows his life is safest as close to God as he can get. Look in verse 8 where David acknowledges his own response to God’s invitation to us all to seek His face. David faithfully responded in obedience and with expectation. David shows full confidence in the LORD above all human forms of relationships, even his parents. He understands the inevitable fallibility of humans and knows his trust is more wisely placed in God. David seeks God’s help for how to maneuver his present situation and relationships. David is aware of the danger his enemies present, and his response is to seek God’s wisdom, direction, and protection. In verse 11, David asks God to teach him His ways. The word used for teach is interpreted as “yara” meaning “to throw, shoot.” The word used for way is interpreted as “Derek” meaning “way, road, distance, journey, manner.” David is asking God to help him know what choices to make in order to please God. Thinking of the teaching from the perspective of the student’s learning, David doesn’t want to aim and get it wrong, but he intends to hit a bull’s eye with his first attempt. He is confident that God will instruct him perfectly, and he is making himself ready to receive and obey God’s instructions.
1 The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? 2 When the wicked, even mine enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell. 3 Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear: though war should rise against me, in this will I be confident. 4 One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to enquire in his temple. 5 For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock. 6 And now shall mine head be lifted up above mine enemies round about me: therefore will I offer in his tabernacle sacrifices of joy; I will sing, yea, I will sing praises unto the Lord. 7 Hear, O Lord, when I cry with my voice: have mercy also upon me, and answer me. 8 When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, Lord, will I seek. 9 Hide not thy face far from me; put not thy servant away in anger: thou hast been my help; leave me not, neither forsake me, O God of my salvation. 10 When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me up. 11 Teach me thy way, O Lord, and lead me in a plain path, because of mine enemies. 12 Deliver me not over unto the will of mine enemies: for false witnesses are risen up against me, and such as breathe out cruelty. 13 I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. 14 Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.
We all have an enemy of our soul and to our obedience to God. This enemy slyly uses unaware humans as his weapons of attack. Just as we read of David’s enemies in Psalm 27, you are likely aware of some folks being used as weapons against you.
Remember that these people aren’t truly the enemy, just the weapon the real enemy is using at the moment to trip you up and trip you out mentally, so you cannot focus on your source of strength and wisdom that will guide you safely through every attack.
Ephesians 6:10-18 says, “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. 11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. 13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; 15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: 18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.”
Notice some echoes in this passage from where we began in Proverbs 15:4 and Isaiah 11:1-5. This week, please read these scripture passages to yourself several times every day, pray asking God for wisdom, and spend time meditating on them. You will soon find them easier to understand and more naturally applied to your life. You won’t feel like you are fighting naked, and you won’t scramble to find and put on your armor when it’s really too late. ;-)
For a closer look at how our attitudes and words are formed and influence others, please visit the archives at the bottom of the page to see the following posts:
June 26, 2021--"Always Ready for Battle"
August 13, 2021--"The Power of Words"
August 27, 2021--Don't Let Distractions Lead to Your Destruction
“It is the weak who are cruel. Gentleness can only be expected from the strong.” –Leo Roskin
People with unhealthy character impose guilt messages in an effort to control and manipulate others.
These people are angry , lack self-control, and live with many fears.
Regardless of the negative person’s real problems, if I let the negative remarks affect my thinking and my choices, I am a victim as well. God designed us to be victorious no matter our life circumstances. God wants our thinking to be centered around Him because He knows that is how we can live victoriously, regardless of our nitty-gritty details. If we allow the negative attitudes and remarks of others to control our thinking and actions, we are slaves to that negative, and our thinking is not centered around God. This is sin, and in it we will not live victoriously. We are not only designed to live victoriously, but we are designed to be free from the chains of sin. It has no power over us unless we allow it. We can choose to remain centered around God and speak life to the person who is spewing anger and death.
In response to attacks from others, we can scrap and scrounge to fight for ourselves, or we can call for help from a much more reliable power source than ourselves. When David fled King Saul and hid in a cave to stay alive, he praised God. Psalm 57 shows how David felt in his situation, and it shows his powerful response.
King Saul was full of pride and power. When he said jump, strong men jumped. When he set out to have someone murdered, he could consider it accomplished. But he didn’t count on his scare tactics and mental manipulation to fail in his pursuit of David. He counted on tripping up a scared, panicky David. But David had trust in God and prior training to keep his mind focused on where his strength came from. As a young shepherd, he had slain many wild animals responsible for killing livestock and men alike. Then he took down and cut off the head of Goliath, the mighty Philistine whose size, reputation and use of fear tactics were enough to cause all the mighty warriors in the Hebrew army to cower with knees knocking.
“Be merciful unto me, O God, be merciful unto me: for my soul trusteth in thee: yea, in the shadow of thy wings will I make my refuge, until these calamities be overpast. I will cry unto God most high; unto God that performeth all things for me. He shall send from heaven, and save me from the reproach of him that would swallow me up. Selah. God shall send forth his mercy and his truth. My soul is among lions: and I lie even among them that are set on fire, even the sons of men, whose teeth are spears and arrows, and their tongue a sharp sword. Be thou exalted, O God, above the heavens; Let thy glory be above all the earth. They have prepared a net for my steps; My soul is bowed down: They have digged a pit before me, into the midst whereof they are fallen themselves. My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed: I will sing and give praise. Awake up, my glory; awake, psaltery and harp: I myself will awake early. I will praise thee, O Lord, among the people; I will sing unto thee among the nations. For thy mercy is great unto the heavens, And thy truth unto the clouds. Be thou exalted, O God, above the heavens: Let thy glory be above all the earth” (Psalm 57:1-11).
David was under attack and had to flee for his life. He was scared and knew he was in danger. His response to his situation no doubt comforted him with God’s presence and strengthened his resolve to stay focused and clear-headed as to not become an emotional and mental victim as well as having to preserve his physical life by hiding in the cave.
Just as David chose a powerful, empowering response to his situation, we can choose this power as well.
King Saul was angry, lacked self-control and lived with many fears. He knew that David was appointed by God to be the next king of Israel. King Saul was jealous of David’s relationship with God. What if David had responded differently to King Saul’s tactics and attacks? What if David had not turned to God and praised God as he did? Do you think the outcome would have been the same?
Think of a situation in your life that is troubling you right now. Identify what the problem is, or the stimulus, if you will. Then consider several options of how you can respond to that problem, and predict to the best of your ability what would be the outcome of each possible response. You likely have prior experience to pull from to help you accurately predict the outcomes of your possible responses.
I learned a powerful concept from Stephen R. Covey’s teachings that he came across in a book in a university library: “Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and freedom.” This concept greatly shifted my paradigm of life, just as it did for Covey. I realized the complete power I had over any response I gave in any situation. I employed this in my relationships as a parent, spouse, daughter, sister, aunt, teacher, coworker, and friend. It was empowering to realize the liberty I had in how I choose to respond to any comment and any situation.
The human endowments that reside in the space between stimulus and response, according to Covey, are self-awareness, conscience, independent will, and creative imagination. According to Covey, the synergy of these endowments is necessary for quality of life.
Self-awareness is defined as “our capacity to stand apart from ourselves and examine our thinking, our motives, our history, our scripts, our actions, and our habits and tendencies.”
Conscience is defined as what “allows us to sense when we act or even contemplate acting in a way that’s contrary to principle.”
Independent will is defined as “our capacity to act.” Covey further says this regarding independent will: “While environmental or genetic influences may be very powerful, they do not control us. We’re not victims. We’re not the product of our choices. We are ‘response-able’—able to respond beyond our moods and tendencies.”
Creative imagination is defined as “the power to envision a future state, to create something in our mind, and to solve problems synergistically. It’s the endowment that enables us to see ourselves and others differently and better than we are now.”
It’s important that we use the creative imagination God gave us to speak life and truth to ourselves.
When George Foreman was training to regain his title as Heavyweight Champion of the World 20 years after he lost the title to Muhammad Ali, he learned to not even hear the negatives anymore. He focused on his goal and worked hard to make it happen. He promised himself that in time he would be the champ of the world. After recapturing his title in 1994, Foreman said when he looked in the mirror he still saw the same old guy turning 50, but he also saw a guy who was able to seize and conquer. He said, “I could never see someone who could not do it.”
The synergy of these four endowments is what produces optimum results. One endowment without the others is out of balance and unable to produce positive fruit. According to Covey, “the development of each of the four endowments and the synergy between them is the core of personal leadership” (59-61, Covey, Merrill, Merrill).
Our responses to people speak as loudly if not more loudly than our original actions. We need to be able to objectively evaluate our attitudes and behaviors and be honest with ourselves as to whether we need to change our paradigms. We need to see if our words and actions align with our principles. We need to recognize our ability to respond beyond our own moods and tendencies. We need to be able to envision and work toward good outcomes, not only for ourselves, but also for others. Clearly we need a lot to be effective communicators seeking win-win outcomes not only for ourselves but for everyone involved. Clearly, it is very possible for us to have, do, and be what is needed. Remind yourself of the example of David or of George Foreman when you feel discouraged or helpless to change the direction of a conversation or relationship. Next week, we will look deeper into how our words drive our attitudes and accomplishments.
Perfect peace is defined biblically is shalom shalom, or complete fulfillment as a result of God’s presence. We see this in Isaiah 26:3, “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, (‘shalom shalom’) whose mind is stayed on Thee because he trusteth Thee.”
The power of God is in the presence of God. God inhabits the praises of His people. We praise God in prayer when we thank Him specifically for His many blessings, acknowledge His love for us, and express our confidence in Him.
So how do we live a life blessed of perfect peace, or shalom shalom?
We praise God for who He is, and as a result, He inhabits our space in a unique way.
When we accept Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord of our life, we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. That gift alone is incredibly powerful separating us from the world and giving us the ability to live in agreement with Christ when we pursue to do so.
Yet the offering of praise is so powerful that it brings God even closer to us, strengthening us even more to know and do His will.
What does it mean to praise God?
We praise God for who He is and acknowledge Him as the source of of life, breath, and all blessings. We boast of His goodness toward us.
Psalm 117 is just two verses instructing the reader to praise God. “O praise the LORD, All ye nations: Praise him, all ye people.”
“For his merciful kindness is great toward us: And the truth of the LORD endureth for ever. Praise ye the LORD” (Psalm 117:1-2).
The Hebrew word used in verse 1 for “praise” means “to shine or to be boastful.” The second Hebrew word in verse 1 interpreted as “praise” means “to soothe, to still, to quiet,” as the roar of the waves in the sea. The Hebrew word meaning “to shine or to be boastful” is used again in verse 2.
We are to boast of God to Him and to others. It’s important that we earnestly praise God in prayer and in deed and word to others. We are to shine His light to ourselves and those around us by boasting of His good works. In praising God, we are pleasing Him and also making the chaos around us to be still and bow to our supreme Lord. When we praise God even in the midst of a storm, we show that our confidence in God is not shaken.
The power of God enables us to live triumphantly no matter our life situation.
Think of the passage in John 17 where Jesus prays to God for His current disciples and those to come:
“And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves. I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth” (verses 13-17).
A few truths we can glean from this passage about a disciple of Christ:
A couple more thoughts on this passage:
Psalm 73:26 says, “My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever.” Alone we are never enough and can never be enough to praise God or live God’s design for us. By His design, our close relationship with Him in obedience to Him is what sanctifies us, gives us joy, courage, strength, hope, and perfect peace to press on and praise God at all times.
Even when times seem bleak, fix your eyes on where your help comes from. Certainly it is easier to focus on what concerns us, but our God is more concerned than we are and has the perfect solution, no detail overlooked. Are you going to relax in God’s gift of perfect peace by keeping your mind fixed on Him and trusting Him who sees tomorrow before it begins?
What is peace?
Oxford dictionary defines peace as freedom from disturbance; tranquility and a state or period in which there is no war or a war has ended.
According to www.encyclopedia.com, spiritual peace “includes notions of totality or completeness, success, fulfillment, wholeness, harmony, security and well-being.”
According to www.biblestudytools.com, the biblical concept of peace is “larger than [the English definition of peace] and rests heavily on the Hebrew root slm, which means ‘to be complete’ or ‘to be sound.’ The verb conveys both a dynamic and a static meaning ‘to be complete or whole’ or ‘to live well.’”
According to www.biblestudytools.com, peace, or salom, can be grouped into four categories:
To those with whom God establishes a covenant of perfect peace, it is ensured by His presence. We see this in my motto verse, Isaiah 26:3, “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee, because he trusteth thee.” As long as we trust God and keep our minds fixed on Him, we enjoy perfect peace, no matter what is going on around us. It’s an internal anchor that steadies us in difficult times.
God gave me this verse during a very difficult time in my life, and it has strengthened and re-centered me countless times. For years, I have had a sign in my kitchen that defines peace (shalom) as “complete fulfillment as a result of God’s presence.”
In Pursuit of Peace
We cannot have complete fulfillment without God’s direction and blessing.
We can run here and there, accomplish this and that, get all kinds of awards, degrees, and certifications, and rise to the top of our field and still not be fulfilled.
Look at Hollywood for worldly success without peace. Billionaires and beloved stars commit suicide as often as do regular people.
They also struggle as much with addictions of all kinds, just as the rest of us.
We all try to fill the inborn void with what we think will make us happy, but we are never fulfilled without God’s presence.
Some people chase success to finally obtain it and find they still feel unfulfilled.
I believe God defines success as peace, or shalom: our complete fulfillment as a result of His presence.
This means an intimate relationship seeking God above all else. It means a life in which prayer is a way of life as much as breathing. Not just talking to God but also listening, seeking His wisdom for every decision we will encounter. It includes interceding for others continuously. It means thanking God and asking Him to open our eyes to see the blessings we have taken for granted. It is constant communion and communication with God. The result is a life of peace and fulfillment in which God is honored above all.
What if we believe in and trust God and try to follow His leading but still feel unfulfilled, numb, struggle with addiction, or still sometimes contemplate suicide?
We live in an imperfect world full of imperfect people. It’s easiest to think of it this way: everything and everyone here is messed up. We all suffer, we all get it wrong sometimes, and we all struggle.
So what’s the difference?
The difference is the anchor and lifeboat that is the close intimacy with our Maker, God. Satan attacks every person. He is no respecter of persons, and seeks to kill, steal, and destroy as much as possible because he hates God. He attacks individuals, families, churches, institutions, governments, and more. There is no one or nothing satan doesn’t attempt to intrude and apply his thumbprint.
Turn the Table on Satan
We are empowered to accept that we are attacked, then recognize where and how satan is attacking us. We already know the basic why—because He hates God. Recognizing where we are weak enables us to strengthen that area. But beware if you are confident of your strength in an area; it is likely that there is a weakness of which you aren’t aware, and satan will sneak in to destroy you in that very area of life.
One example of how to turn the table on satan is if you have a momentary sexual impulse not toward your spouse, you know that you need to strengthen your love and commitment toward your spouse. This in turn will strengthen your marriage. How to do this is to pray for your marriage, your spouse, and your affection and commitment to your spouse. You also must walk away from the temptation, taking every thought captive under the authority of Jesus Christ, and remind yourself of your spouse’s qualities that attracted you to him or her. You can also recognize if there’s been a lack of affection and connection between you and your spouse, and then have a spontaneous or planned time of intimacy to rekindle those sparks.
If we don’t recognize the attack and render it useless, it causes division within us and separates us from peace.
The Mind Is a Battlefield
It’s important to guard our minds. That is why we must recognize and remove impure thoughts as soon as they come.
Satan attacks our minds in more ways than just temptations. He attacks with vanity, pride, fears, and insecurities. He wants to steal our focus from God so he can inflate our pride or deflate our joy. He knows that either way leaves us weak and not focused on God. His goal is to distract and deceive us.
We cannot win someone else’s battle for them, but we can be there for them with Godly support and unconditional love, and we are to intercede on their behalf. And we can recognize satan’s attacks on us as we are close to this person.
I remember a long season when Satan was attacking my daughter in many ways. The battle was spiritual and also mental, emotional, and physical, but the decisive movements occurred in her mind. Satan tried hard to distract my prayers and vigilant parenting by attacking me also spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and physically. He threw every fiery dart he could find to sling our way. I know God created my daughter with specific qualities to serve His purpose, and satan has attacked those same qualities all her life to oppress her and prevent God’s will from being done.
Our Power to Have Peace
We have an important role in whether or not God’s will is accomplished on earth. When we are oppressed by satan’s attacks, we aren’t able to know, much less pursue, God’s purpose for our lives.
We are in control of our own peace. No matter satan’s attacks, we have an invitation from God to have a close relationship with Him through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. We then have His Holy Spirit within us to strengthen our resolve when our flesh is weak. And we have the mind-blowing opportunity to communicate directly with God, with no in-between. When Christ rent the veil, He made one-to-one communication with God our privilege and responsibility in order for us to live fulfilled lives, full of peace as a result of God’s presence.
If you lack peace or fulfillment, seek God continually. He doesn’t withhold peace from those who are near to Him. Just keep seeking God continually, no giving up and no turning back. A close relationship with God and dependence on Him is all it takes. The flesh is weak, but the Holy Spirit within one who believes and trusts God and knows Jesus Christ as the only mediator for sin, is strong. When we are weak and rely on Him, God’s strength in our life shines through and gives us the victory of peace in Him.
More on peace next week, but for now, here is an extensive list of bible verses and passages about peace:
Proverbs 3:13-18, 24
Jeremiah 29:7, 11-14
1 Corinthians 13:11
1 Corinthians 14:33
1 Thessalonians 5:3
1 Thessalonians 5:23
1 Thessalonians 5:15
2 Thessalonians 3:16
1 Timothy 2:1-2
2 Timothy 1:7
2 Timothy 2:22
1 Peter 1:2
1 Peter 3:9-11
1 Peter 5:6-7
2 John 3
I'm tired of running from God and am trying to learn to run to Him instead.