Thursday, March 7, 2013

The Foxhole

Grace EPC, Lawrence, KS

A few Sundays ago, we sat with our son and his family in their new sanctuary. The large empty brown cross on the front wall is framed by a shield shaped structure. (In this picture the top of the “shield” is hidden by the artistic woodwork at the ceiling.)  Each time I see it I think, the risen Christ is my shield.

My tendency is to seek out other things for my shield. Sometimes it’s my business card. The title on it does sound impressive. J I have been known to use my husband and his position as my shield—my identity, my security, even my contribution seemed tied to Bill—not good! I have hidden behind my experience and what I know I am good at. This works well for a time. But eventually all these shields crumble; I crumble along with them—usually in tears.

I am also discovering that the strength of my shield is most often tested in waiting. Right now I am waiting. Really it hasn’t been long; but it is not meeting my expectations and seems long. Life is happening around me. Even Bill, who is waiting along with me, seems un-phased. My response is to crawl into a foxhole (forget the shield); to allow the foxhole to be my protection, to wait it out invisible to those around me. In choosing the foxhole over the shield, I am cramped, unhappy, and absent from life—the life God designed for me to live.

In desperation, a few weeks ago, I cried out from the foxhole to a trusted friend. My friend doesn’t mince words, and her words were an arrow to my heart.

“… Yet, I do have a strong desire to see you fully free, living in the truth of His desire for you, unfettered to be exactly the person you were created to be. No strings attached. Finding your unmet longings satiated by His pleasure in you.” 

Her words—fully free, living in the truth of His desire for you, unfettered, no strings—gave me the courage to climb out of the foxhole. Two weeks later sitting in church the picture of the cross surrounded by the shield glued God’s lesson to my heart. I heard, Sue, I am your protection. Even in waiting live out who I created you to be. Trust the desires I have given you. Live free. I am your shield.  Ahhhhh, I am breathing again.

Renowned author George MacDonald penned these words: (the underlined portion is what stood out to me)

He has an especial tenderness of love towards thee for that thou art in the dark and has no light, and His heart is glad when thou dost arise and say, “I will go to my Father.” For He sees thee through all the gloom through which thou canst not see Him. Say to Him, “My God, I am very dull and low and hard; but Thou art wise and high and tender, and Thou art my God. I am Thy child. Forsake me not,” then fold the arms of thy faith, and wait in quietness until light goes up in the darkness. Fold the arms of thy Faith, I say, but not of thy Action: bethink thee of something that thou ought to do, and go and do it, if it be but the sweeping of a room, or the preparing of a meal, or a visit to a friend; heed not thy feelings: do thy work.

God’s encouragement came to me in my foxhole through the words of my friend; through the cross and the shield like structure in the front of a church; through words penned long ago by a wise saint; and through these words of Scripture, “Finally, be strong in the Lord … In all circumstances take up the shield of faith with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one;…” from Ephesians 6:10-16.

“Our soul waits for the LORD; he is our help and our shield”.
Psalm 33:20

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