Monthly Archives: May 2014

Lessons from a Spider (in my bed)

Last night I was kneeling down to pray and I saw something on a rucked up bit of comforter on my bed… a big ol’ spider hanging upside down, looking as comfy as you please.  Spidey was *not* a widow spider (I have loads outside), but was the same size, same shape abdomen, same shape of leg – even had the varigated leg coloring that the brown widow spiders sport these days.  (Oh so fashionable).

So I squished the spider with a book and threw it in the toilet.  Then I shook out all my bedding and remade my bed..  When it came time to go to bed, I was still a bit squicked out.  Spidey had taken the long damp ride to oblivion by then … but every tickle of hair against the sheet, every wandering breeze across my face… *everything* woke me up just that little bit (it took forever to go to sleep in the first place).

Where was the spider?  Dead.

Were there any other spiders in evidence?  No.  (About the size of my fingernail, including legs – not tiny).

Are widow spiders aggressive?  No.  Poisonous, not aggressive.  Much.

Was this a widow spider?  No, it’s actually some sort of house spider.   I’ve seen them before.

But none of that mattered – and I got a lousy night’s sleep.  

Why?  Because I let myself get freaked out.  I let illogical fear control my reactions – and I worried about something I had a) taken action on and b) had no further control over.  

That’s one of the things I’m growing through at the moment – letting go of worrying *so much* about stepping wrong.  At this point in my walk, I’m right and tight with God, no habitual sin in my life, and my motivations are correct.  So the inside of the cup is as good as it’s going to get at this point in my maturity (not saying I don’t have improvements to make, I’m saying that they’ll come in time, I don’t have any red-lights flashing).  

And yet I worry … did I say the right thing to those Jehovah’s Witnesses who came to my door?  Did I say the right thing in the conversation with my neighbor?  Did I smile at the right moment?  Is my outfit modest yet not frightening?  Is my hair covered enough?  Does this look too much like a bandanna?  I could go on… but you get it.  And the idea is – I need to STOP.  S.T.O.P.  Just say what comes to say, and say a prayer while I’m at it if I remember.  Pray for the folks on my refrigerator and don’t stress about having the right words.  Do what comes to my hands to do and don’t worry so much about if it’s my entire purpose to do whatever in that moment – just do it.

And maybe go take a small nap while I’m at it.  -yawns-

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Rethinking Submission

In the tradosphere, we talk about wifely submission quite a lot.  We talk about it so much that it can get to be its own idol, a goal in and of itself.  But perfect submission is not external.  Perfect *anything* is not external.

When I first set out to be the best wife I could possibly be (because I wasn’t happy with my marriage, and sensibly enough, decided to change me) I decided to turn myself into the Perfect Stepford Wife.  Upped my housecleaning.  Upped my personal service (coffee-fetching).  Started cleaning myself up and greeting my husband at the door with a smile and a kiss… well, I tried.  He found that annoying and he’s too tall to kiss if he doesn’t want to cooperate.  See, I didn’t ask HIM what he wanted.  I read what some other woman said was Perfect Wifeness.

I could keep going on this… it was lame, and the despair that came after I worked this for a year or so and my husband didn’t sweep me into his arms with delight was extremely injurious to me, my spiritual life, my emotional life, and my marriage.  You might say my view of the whole External Submission is a weeeeeee bit colored.  (You’d be right).

The thing was, I wasn’t being perfectly submissive, I was acting a part.  Oh sure, I excised any contrary opinions… surgically if necessary.  But I took away what my husband truly wanted from me – ME.   And instead of acting from a fear of God, I acted from a fear of my husband.  Would *you* want the pressure of being someone’s god?  No?  Yeah, neither did he.

So, I’m not writing this to the women out there who haven’t tried fixing their marriages by being nice, respecting their men, and acting like decent people.  Just – if you’re being mean, stop.  Okay?  I’m not talking to you.  Go read 99% of the submission advice out there.  I don’t disagree with it!!!  But you don’t put out a fire by adding sunshine and you don’t dry up a lake by adding water.  Maybe this is chapter two in the submission handbook for some ladies.  I don’t know, but I know someone needs to say this.

Being right with your husband means that you’re right with God.  The first thing you have to do is spend time with God, talk to God, rely on God – get that relationship right and tight.  You get the habitual sin out of your life, you get your heart-motivation right.  “If you love Me, obey My commandments”.  Well, do you love God?  If not, stop reading and work on that.

The second thing you need to do is get communication open with your husband.  Find out what he wants from life.  From your family, from your kids, from you.  If you’re a stay at home mom, you have a lot under your control.  You need to know where your ship is going so that you can plan appropriately.  Your husband might not have a plan, but let him know that you’re there to make it happen when he does.  Find out what he wants just day to day and what’s NOT important to him.  You don’t need to obey Dolly’s husband, you need to obey yours.  You’re not more holy because you look perfect on the outside.

Third thing – you need to dump that whole, “less than the dust beneath his chariot wheels” right back into the pulp novels.  Your husband married you.  You reflect on him.  Therefore, he does not want you to be a doormat.  He wants you to be the best you can be – and take all that goodness and put it at his back and to the service of your family.  That’s what the guys do, after all – they work their tails off to advance the family.

Proverbs 31 says that a good wife is valued above rubies.  Do you act more valuable than rubies?  Are you working to increase your value?   Do you work at whatever you’re good at to get better at it?  Do you take your responsibilities as a wife and mother seriously, putting energy and thought into your work?  Different seasons in life call for different work and different skills, and that’s normal, but we should keep moving.  Develop yourself.  Get smarter, get more skilled.  Learn better ways to manage your household, grow in wisdom and in knowledge of the Word of God.  Mentor others, get in mentorship for yourself.

People who tell you to stay dust-like are people who are under the impression that you are not loyal.  That is regrettably common in this life, but it does no one any good to chain yourself down because the woman next to you can’t be trusted.  If you are the best you can be, and then you turn around and offer all of your best to your husband, to support what he wants for your family, how have you done anything but made his life better?  Humans, as a rule, are unpleasant creatures.  Fortunately your Lord and God has washed you clean and given you the Holy Spirit within you, enabling you to be something other than the lowest common denominator.

A strong man doesn’t need a weak wife.  A strong man needs a strong woman so that HE can go do what he wants to do – so he can be free to work harder and pursue his dreams.  He doesn’t have to worry about repeating instructions fifty times a day – he can trust his wife to have his back.  I’m not saying you have to be good at what your husband is – I am *certainly* not.  I’m saying you have to be the best you can be.

Read Proverbs 31.  Who was the husband?  Where was he?  He was at the gates, which means he was an elder/judge for that town.  His wife was handling his home life, and that freed him up to do more for his community.   His heart could safely trust in her.

When we talk about submission, we talk and talk and talk about making ourselves smaller.  Instead, let’s start talking about making ourselves better.  Instead of “how can I avoid offending my husband” can we talk about “how can I bless my husband today”.   Instead of following some other man’s ideals for life, how about finding out what our husbands dream of, and putting our good minds to work thinking of ways we can support those dreams?

Let us throw away our stubbornness, our ideas about what the outside “should” look like and let us give our deepest hearts to our beloved husbands.  We trust them with our lives, with our honor.  Let us give our *best* to them.  Let us give our husbands good gifts when we give ourselves, and let us daily strive to make ourselves the best gifts that we can be.

And let us not forget that in giving ourselves as we are commanded to give, we are giving the gift of obedience to our eternal Lord and King.  Let us strive to be the servant with 10 talents, not the servant with one.

 

 

I’ve been doing it again…

… yelling at myself and getting myself all lathered up at my numerous inadequacies.

If it were spiritually (or otherwise) useful, that would be one thing.  But it’s just me getting in my own way.  Like the centipede who couldn’t walk after the spider asked him how he managed all those feet – when I start fussing at myself, I get substantially less holy.  :p  

Anyway.

Verse for tonight, it’s a nice one.  🙂

Psalm 97:11  Light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart.

Judges 19-21, part 2 (Torah Class Notes)

One of my friends studies Torah Class, and she was kind enough to send me the discussion – it’s VERY good. 

All credit for the following is to Torah Class, not me.

………………

This story probably took place even earlier than the story of Micah, the silver image of God, and the Levite who masqueraded as a priest. It represents one of the most infamous outrages against the Lord that is recorded in Holy Scripture, one that authors of biblical writings of much later eras referred to (so well known and repeated was this sad episode).

 

The theme of the book of Judges begins the story: “There was no king in Israel”. There was no law and order because there was no central authority. Although this sojourning Levite who lived in the hills of Ephraim sounds an awful lot like our previous story, it is not the same fellow but it does illustrate that Micah’s Levite hireling was not an isolated instance at all; it had become quite common for Levites to seek position and advancement wherever it could be found.

 

The set-up is that this anonymous Levite living in the more northern area of Ephraim had taken on a concubine whose family home was in Beit-Lechem of Judah, meaning that she was NOT a Levite but a Judahite. But at some point there was a serious problem and the woman left him and went back to her father. Verse 2 explains the nature of the problem; or does it? The CJB along with the KJV and many others says that the concubine was unfaithful to her Levite husband or some say outright that she played the harlot or acted like a whore. Now in the Hebrew the latter translation is absolutely the correct one because the Hebrew word used to describe her was that she was a zonah, meaning a prostitute, or (in some manuscripts) that she behaved zanah, which means she acted in an unfaithful manner.

However other translations will say she was angry with her husband and left him. And, those are equally good translations because they are drawn from ancient Aramaic texts and also from the Greek Septuagint, which speak of anger and NOT unfaithfulness or sexual immorality. The general consensus of Rabbis is that the Levite and his concubine had an argument of some kind and she had NOT been unfaithful to him (at least not sexually speaking). The reason is that by both the Mosaic Law and the customs and traditions of that era, a concubine or wife who had an adulterous affair was to be summarily executed. And there is no hint in this story that she was in any danger of being harmed.

 

Let me remind you that a concubine (pilegesh in Hebrew) was like a 2nd class wife. Thus it was common for the bible to refer to the man as her husband. Simplistically speaking the difference between a concubine and wife was that the wife had more rights, and had a marriage contract. But concubines were not slaves, could not be mistreated any more than could a legal wife, and they were not acquired as playful sex objects or mistresses as is sometimes erroneously depicted.

 

We see in verse 3 that her husband was concerned enough for her that after 4 months time (even if it was only a selfish concern that he preferred her company) that he took the rather substantial journey from the northern hill country down to Bethlehem in Judah to try and win her back. He brought a house servant with him (undoubtedly for protection as traveling alone in those days was dangerous) and two donkeys. One was for her to ride on the return journey (hopefully). Undoubtedly several gifts for both the concubine and her father were provided as well.

 

The fact that she brought her husband into her father’s house shows that whatever caused the split-up it was not irreconcilable; and it also says that her father was glad to meet him. Translation: the father was VERY relieved that his daughter would be going back with her husband. I say that not in the sense it probably sounds to us today (as though he wanted rid of his daughter) but rather in the sense that it was very dishonorable for a family to have a girl get married (or become a concubine) and then become separated from her husband. If (God forbid) the separation grew to an outright divorce it brought great shame upon the whole family regardless of the reason or who might be to blame. Dad had been sweating it out.

 

On the 4th day after his arrival the Levite man was ready to leave but the father in law wanted him to stay a bit longer. Likely this was a simple matter of Middle Eastern hospitality; visitors were rare and protocol required making the most of your time together. The father in law pressed on the Levite to stay and he agreed to, but on the 5th day he took his concubine and left in the afternoon.

 

The Levite, his concubine and his servant set out for home and their route took them to Jevus (Jebus); this was the name of the city that would eventually be renamed to Jerusalem. Jebus was around 6 miles from Bethlehem, around a 2-hour walk. The people who founded and controlled the city were called Jebusites, and they were just another group of Canaanites. Since it was getting near to sundown the servant suggested that they spend the night inside the massive defensive walls of Jevus but the Levite refused because indeed Jevus was a city of non-Israelites. Instead he preferred that they travel a little further and stay in a village or city that was occupied by Hebrews: Gibeah or Ramah.

 

They only made it as far as Gibeah by the time darkness was setting in so they stopped there. Gibeah was in the territory of Benjamin and so it’s residents were Israelites.

 

Verse 15 explains that they went in side the city and sat down at what we would call the city square, just inside the city gate; such a thing would make him noticeable to the city’s residents as they passed in and out. There is a hint of what was to come, though, in that the reason that he sat in the square is that no one would offer them hospitality; no one would give them a place to stay for the evening. This was a sacred duty in that era and the failure of the local residents to offer rest and sustenance to a traveler (especially one who obviously had the means to feed himself and his animals if needs be) was a sign that these people were of poor character.

 

At dark an old man came through the city gates, a man who had been working out in the fields that surrounded Gibeah. Coincidentally this old man was from the same area that the Levite hailed, and was neither a permanent resident of Gibeah nor was he of the tribe of Benjamin. That the old man did not share in the morals of Gibeah is evident in that he does the right thing and offers to take the Levite, his concubine and servant, into his dwelling place for the night.

 

Of course the old man first inquires after them and asks the logical question, “where are you going and where are you from?” The Levite is truthful and explains where he’s from and that he’s returning there; but the latter part of the answer is puzzling. He says that he’s going to the house
of Adonai (or more accurately the Beit-Yehoveh). But what does that mean, that he’s going to the house of Yehoveh? Almost certainly he was merely saying that he was going to go home by way of Shiloh, which was the current location of the Wilderness Tabernacle. He was a Levite and so it would be logical that if he had an opportunity to visit the Tabernacle, home of the priesthood, he would go there to offer a sacrifice. But there is another implication in this scene that some Jewish scholars point out; the Levite traveler was probably recognizable as a Levite. Levites had for some reason quickly developed a dialect or accent (as we saw played a role in our previous story) that was different enough from the other Hebrews that it helped to identify them. He may well have also worn garments or some ritual object of clothing that marked him as a Levite. In any case the REASON that the town of Gibeah wouldn’t offer him hospitality was that they didn’t want anything to do with the Priestly Tribe. They may have been Israelites but their hearts were far from God.

 

The Levite explained to the old man that even though they would be no burden on anyone (because they carried all of their own provisions with them), the townspeople refused to offer them shelter; so the old man says to come and stay with him, but whatever they do don’t stay out in the city square at night. This matter of avoiding bedding down in the city square (which would have been lawful and safe under most circumstances) had little to do with discomfort; rather it was a dire warning from someone who knew these townspeople well.

 

The next scene is reminiscent of the sad adventure of Lot while he was living in the city of Sodom. The old man was playing host his guests when suddenly there was a knock on his door. In fact his house was surrounded by some worthless men of Gibeah who were demanding that he send out the Levite so that they could have homosexual sex with him. In the Hebrew these worthless men are called ben-Belial, or sons of Belial, a very derogatory expression. It is used in many places in the bible and is used to label those who commit idolatry, or gross rebellion against God, or who commit lewd and immoral acts. And it says that these sons of Belial daphak upon the old man’s door. This definitely does not mean to knock, nor does it even mean to merely beat. Rather it means to beat VIOLENTLY with ever increasing force. This was a mob that meant business and was not going to take “no” for an answer.

 

The old man had to address this situation; he couldn’t just huddle inside and hope these perverts went away. So he opened his door to address them. Now before I discuss with you what he offered to the crowd in hopes of appeasing them, let me first explain WHY he offered it. I have explained many times the Oriental mindset concerning hospitality. Among the several things that hospitality

entailed in that era, protection of the houseguests was paramount. There was no greater shame than for a host to allow something terrible to befall a guest in his home. Hosts were obligated (by custom) to defend their guests with the cost of their own lives or their family’s lives if necessary. Just as families today have set up an unspoken hierarchy whereby the children are protected at all costs by the adult family members (and even the younger children are protected almost out of instinct by the older), it was the same sort of thing with families that took in travelers whom they had never before met.

 

So the old man offers to send out his own unmarried daughter (called a virgin) as well as the Levite’s concubine for them to gang rape, in trade for keeping the males safe. In ancient times,
and still in many Eastern societies today (including the more fundamental sects of Islam) women are chattel. Women have far less value than men, and very often less value than the farm animals. The Laws of Moses were the first to value women equally with men, and to insist on the humane treatment of women, and to give women far more rights than they had ever before known. Don’t get me wrong: the bible still presents a hierarchy whereby men are to be the authority. But men are to be an authority over women in love, and for the purpose of caring for women, not for the purpose of using them or virtually enslaving them.

 

However worldwide customs and traditions infiltrate everything. And the Hebrew society remained a male-dominated society. What we see happening in this regard to the women in this story is not acceptable before the Lord.

 

Let me also point out what makes this story so extraordinarily shocking. Certainly that homosexuality is at the center of it is undeniable and it is at the top of the list of godless perversions throughout the bible, Old Testament and New. But what we must also see is that while we’ve witnessed this all before in the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, at least the residents of those cities were pagans; they didn’t know God. But the men of Gibeah who are demanding homosexual sex with the old man’s male guests here in the book of Judges are Hebrews; they are Benjamites. They had the Torah. Their parents were part of the Exodus. Joshua had only recently died. This mob consisted of God’s set-apart people who were no more than one generation removed from Moses.

 

The old man handed over his daughter and the Levite’s concubine to the men of Gibeah (no doubt with the Levite’s consent who chose to sacrifice this woman to save himself). They were abused all night long, and only ceased at daybreak. Nothing more is said of the old man’s daughter; but we’re informed that the concubine somehow made it back to the door step of where her husband was hiding, and there died of her injuries with her hands reaching towards the bolted door.

 

At daybreak the Levite went outside to leave, and there found his woman. He told her to get up so they could be on their way; but there was of course no response. He immediately knew she was dead so he loaded her corpse on one of the two donkeys and left for home.

 

It is not only the horrific action of the men of Gibeah that are on display her, but the callous and

cold heart of the Levite who is utterly indifferent to his concubine’s suffering. I said at the beginning of this story that I suspected the entire reason for the Levite going after his concubine, after she angrily left him and went home to her father, was selfish. He preferred to have her company than not, but that’s about as far as it went. Perhaps he thought her leaving him would be an embarrassment. That he went to Bethlehem to fetch her back with gifts and a donkey for her to ride home was simply the price needed for him to get her back; a price he could afford with little discomfort. But that price certainly didn’t include any risk taking or repentance on his part, nor did

it mean that he would love her and protect her.

 

The sin of Gibeah would long be remembered and mentioned many centuries later in Hosea 9:9 and 10:9, so great was the shame it brought upon all Israel.

CJB Hosea 9:9 They have deeply corrupted themselves, as in the days of Giv’ah. He will remember their guilt, and he will punish their sins.

CJB Hosea 10:9 “Since the days of Giv’ah you have sinned, Isra’el. There they took their stand. For these arrogant people at Giv’ah, war was insufficient punishment.

 

When the Levite arrived home, he did some so drastic that it is hard to even read about without cringing; he took his concubines body and cut it up into 12 pieces, sending one piece by messenger to each Israelite tribe.

 

I don’t even know where to begin to talk about this. The Levite obviously had no regard for his concubine before or after her death. That he would cut-up her body is a terrible desecration that is simply not allowed by Torah standards. She was to be properly buried, not used as a means for this Levite to display his anger. But the Hebrew word used to for “cutting-up” or (better) “dividing” her body into pieces is a word that is normally reserved for Tabernacle ritual; the word is nathach. Nathach means to divide up the sacrificial animal into pieces for putting onto the Altar of Burnt Offering. That it is used here is out of place and thus seems to indicate that the Levite had some delusional sense of piety or righteous anger or twisted belief that if he was the one doing the cutting up (because he was a Levite) that it made it a proper religious act.

 

Taken together with the other young Levite of our previous story who allowed himself to become a priest (when he was not of the proper lineage), and even to worship Teraphim (god idols); and then that he would leave Micah to go be a priest for the tribe of Dan and set up cult worship in Laish, paints a pretty bad picture of the Hebrew religious leaders of the era of the Judges.

 

See, the Levites were the butchers of that era. They were highly trained in just how to dissect an animal for sacrificial purposes, and then later on how to prepare an animal for food according to the kosher traditions that slowly developed. Even today it is usually Levites who will run Kosher butcher shops. This Levite man simply applied his skill to his dead concubine for personal reasons.

 

Things like this don’t go unnoticed. Verse 30 explains that when the people saw this, they were appalled as they had never seen such an awful thing happen (at least among their own culture).

The question on everyone’s mind was what to do about all this? What should be done about thehomosexual men in Gibeah who literally raped the concubine to death?

But also, what should be done about the tribe of Benjamin in general who apparently didn’t show enough interest in the matter to bring those men to justice? That’s what is dealt with in the final two chapters of the book of Judges, and we’ll get into that next time. 

I was going to rant about Judges 19-21

… and then I got the sock shoved down my throat.  And then I got prayerful, and I think I’ve at least partially learned a lesson.

One of the seedier stories in the OT, Judges 19 opens with a man and his concubine.  Well, sort of it does.  She’d run off with someone else, then gone back to daddy’s house, and he’d come to get her.  They’d partied with dad too long, and then got back on the road.  When they got to an unfamiliar city, we get a replay of Sodom and Gomorrah… a host takes them in, and the men in the city demand to “know” them up and personal.  The men stay inside, the concubine gets tossed outside.

This is where my cultural misappropriation gets in the way.  Why was this so common?  Is this some weird cultural thing?  This seems like it would really discourage visitors… ?  But Sodom was a thriving city, so was this city.  What gives?

Anyway.  She’s dead when the dude comes out, and he doesn’t really notice until after he tells her to get up and get going.  I get all ranty at this point, because … well, you’d think that would be pretty messy, being raped to death.  Is this how you tell your concubine from your wife, that you offer her up for rape and poke her with your sandal in the morning? (I have no way of knowing that he wouldn’t have done this to a wife though).

But he must have cared about her – he went after her.  She was a defiled concubine.  You know what David did to his concubines after they were defiled?*  Absolutely nothing – for the rest of their lives.  So… he does like her.  And then he cuts her up and mails her off and tens of thousands die and the tribe of Benjamin is nearly completely wiped out and then more women get force-married and… yikes.

And all *I* can think of is “wtf, dude?  You let a woman die a horrible death in your place?”  But no chivalry back then, you know?  Revenge, yes.  Chivalry, no.

Did he not think they would kill her?   How did he not know that she was seriously damaged before he told her to get ready to leave, when the Bible describes her as reaching towards the threshold of the door that was barred to her.  Didn’t she scream?  Wasn’t there blood?  But I guess “let’s get out of here” isn’t unreasonable, considering the night that went before.

Something is going on here.  And while I have every right to be seriously disturbed (it’s in the Bible to show us what humans will get up to when we all do what is right in our own eyes) I don’t think I have the right to plug in as much as I have been all these years.  There were TOTALLY different cultural definitions of right and wrong… and I am *missing* something.

-shakes head-

It’s still a terrible, terrible thing.

Then again, so is most of what’s on the news today.  -sighs-

Humans *suck*.

 

*I likewise don’t read about any babies from David’s first two wives after they got carried off by the invaders and then rescued.  Babies before that happened, but no babies after.  But this is the rule in many places – you get raped, you are defiled for life.   I always liked Abigail, and it bummed me out when I did the math.  I guess it’s cool to take another man’s wife, but not to take your own back after someone else comes in?  (That is actually Biblical – you’re not supposed to remarry after you’re divorced if she remarried in the interim).

 

** I notice that she’s his concubine, but he’s her husband.  What’s that about?  Anyone?

I’m a dork

You go off and ask God to change you in massive ways… and then get all confused when you find yourself doing different stuff than you’re used to doing.  You wonder, “Why can’t I…” and get disgruntled when the answer comes, “because you know perfectly well you don’t really want to”.  

I ask God to help me with my idol of approval – and then get disgruntled with the process.  The start of the process (at least) is uncomfortable – it involves being brutally honest instead of hiding behind bland smiles.  And then people think I’m miles away from my actual position.  It’s like… I’m supposed to learn to care less about what people think and people don’t think the correct things about me!  Harumph!  Yeah.  DORK.  

And I don’t know why it was super important to write this tonight but apparently it was.  -laughs-

If no one else finds my writhing amusing, *I* do.  I’m a dork.  😉

But you knew that.  

The Lord is my Shield

In my Bible reading this morning, I came on the following verses: (Psalm 121)

1I will lift up my eyes to the mountains;
From where shall my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
Who made heaven and earth.
He will not allow your foot to slip;
He who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, He who keeps Israel
Will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord is your keeper;
The Lord is your shade on your right hand.
The sun will not smite you by day,
Nor the moon by night.
The Lord will protect you from all evil;
He will keep your soul.
The Lord will guard your going out and your coming in
From this time forth and forever.

I’ve been chewing on this concept as Lord-as-shield, as opposed to my own personal bravado.

Ephesians 6: 10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. 14 Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

OT – Lord is shield.  NT – Shield of faith.  Faith in what?  Or … in Whom?  It’s a pretty thing, that my shield is faith in the Lord who is my shield.  So long as I trust (have faith in) the Lord to shield me, I carry that shield-of-faith with me always.

I’ve been trying to be harder, stronger.  That is not my path or my purpose.  I’m just supposed to keep walking and not worry – because the Lord is my shield, and I have faith in Him.  Faith-of-a-child… the Father will shield me, and I can say, “what arrows?”  I can stop worrying about keeping my shield arm strong, and spend more time sharpening my sword by spending lots and lots of time with it.

God is patient to teach me this lesson.  I live somewhere that isn’t as safe as it might be… and I’m never bothered.   Protected.  I could play anecdotes with you – I have with some of my online friends – but suffice to say I’m not making that up.  It doesn’t mean I should be foolish, but it does show me how God has always protected me, and I can stop worrying *so much* about the stuff that is in my life that I think I should be able to manage.  That physical danger?  Not mine to manage, what is the 5’2″ gimpy woman going to do about it?  But other dangers?  I think I ought to manage those.  That I should put on the mask of bravado and be strong.  Rawr.

But no.  No.  I should just … keep surfing this wave, focusing on God and whatever He brings to my life and not fussing about my own strength, my own preparations, my own knowledge… it’s not about *me*, the strength is not mine.  It never was mine.

-takes a deep breath-  Time to stop worrying so much and just be.

Matthew 6:25 “For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? 27 And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?28 And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin,29 yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! 31 Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ 32 For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

34 “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.