I am grateful for the tree-lined sidewalks I traverse most every day to work. This quiet path provides a final opportunity to quiet my heart and mind before the intensity of the day begins.
One morning as I emerged from the staff parking garage into brilliant sunshine, my attention was immediately drawn to the sound of birds chirping in the trees. Glancing upward as I crossed the street toward my familiar path, I saw countless numbers of birds swirling around and then landing on the branches. Pausing, I looked down at the sidewalk. Suffice it to say, it was very easy to spot the effects of this bustling aviary activity.
Hence, my dilemma. Do I continue to enjoy the sunshine, and risk an air assault of aviary waste on my white shirt, tie, and blazer, or do I play it safe and cut through the grey, dingy, visitor's parking garage to get to my workplace?
I opted for the garage.
Not too long after that experience, I noticed a sign posted on my normal tree-lined route. It read, "CAUTION: Bird Harassment in Progress. Expect sudden and loud noises." The final line indicated who was responsible for this undertaking: Plant Operations Pest Control.
This "Bird Harassment" operation included placing large programmable plastic owls in the trees who would shriek at various times throughout the day. The intent, of course, was to disturb the bird's sense of security to such an extent that they would flee from their present location. On a break, I did a quick Google search and discovered that the effectiveness of this pest control method increases when the hazing is "continuous, concentrated, and caustic."
Reflecting on our faith journey, I couldn't help but think of how the enemy operates with a similar strategy to drive us out of spiritual territory by disturbing our sense of security. I am so grateful that much like the sign posted on my path to work, the Scriptures caution us about these spiritual intimidation practices. The Message paraphrases it this way. "Keep a cool head. Stay alert. The Devil is poised to pounce, and would like nothing better than to catch you napping. Keep your guard up" (I Peter 5:8).
Are you sensing continuous or concentrated duress in your faith journey? Have you experienced a caustic assault from the enemy? Receive the hope of this eternal perspective. "You’re not the only ones plunged into these hard times. It’s the same with Christians all over the world. So keep a firm grip on the faith. The suffering won’t last forever. It won’t be long before this generous God who has great plans for us in Christ - eternal and glorious plans they are! - will have you put together and on your feet for good. He gets the last word; yes, he does" (I Peter 5:9-11 MSG).
I believe that is why the Apostle Paul, though "harassed at every turn" with "conflicts on the outside" and "fears within" was able to confidently declare, "We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed" (2 Corinthians 7:5, 4:8-9 NIV).
The same is true of you in your circumstances today. You may be hard pressed, but you are not crushed. You may be perplexed, but you are not in despair. You may feel persecuted, but you are not abandoned. This thing may have knocked you off your feet, but you are not destroyed. In fact, as Isaiah reminds us, “No weapon that is formed against you will succeed" (57:17 AMP).
Hear the good news! The very words spoken by the Prophet Jeremiah to an oppressed people are spoken over you today in the midst of your weariness. "Yet their Redeemer is strong; the Lord Almighty is his name. He will vigorously defend their cause so that he may bring rest to their land, but unrest to those who live in Babylon" (50:34 NIV).
Hear it from the Father's heart. "My child, I am your Redeemer and I am strong; 'The Lord Almighty' is My name. I will vigorously defend you with the kind intention of bringing you to a place of deep rest in My unwavering love for you. I am your safe place. I am your refuge. I am your stronghold. I am your sanity. I am your clarity. I am your hope. I am your peace. And, my beautiful one, I am your rest. Abide in Me, and I will lavishly supply everything that is missing as you journey through this difficult season."
Today, take a moment and exhale. Rest in the sweet assurance that "the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast" (1 Peter 5:10 NIV). You, indeed, are an overcomer. Thanks be to God.
Did you know there is a Volume 2 of 31 Days of Encouragement? Purchase on-line today! With beautiful simplicity, these 'keep one ~ share one' devotionals open reader's eyes to the activity of God in their every day lives and encourage another step in their faith journey.