Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Closet and the Cave

   Hello everybody.  What an awesome dinner shared with family.  We would like to thank our "Sow What?" friends for allowing us to bow out this past Wednesday and enjoy the Royal Ranger and Impact Girls Awards Ceremony.   I also got to catch the end of Pastor Travis' first message, and the two-thirds-of-the-crowd response to his altar call for forgiveness, renewal, and activation for God.  'Nuff said!


“Blessed is the man whose strength is in You,
Whose heart is set upon pilgrimage.
As they pass through the Valley of Weeping,
They make it a spring…”
                                                                                                           Psalm 84:5- 6

   I'll confess that the message of  Elijah in the Cave  was so right on and hit me so close to home, that the Spirit has tugged at me since I heard it.  Your input for the sermon and the "Bottom Line Up Front" will be sorely missed this week.  It took me a long time tonight (including a prayer walk around my neighborhood) to settle down to post this at all.  Speak, Lord, for your servant types...

   ..those of us who not only heard but harkened to the sermon, know that we have our caves.  The call to leave those pockets of fear and darkness was uncluttered and inescapable.  I guess the Berean task of our group this week is to dope out the nuts and bolts of what to do when we find ourselves there.

   I'm in a cave..

   Sow What?
  The caves in our lives bear time-honored tags..

“Death of a Loved One”
“Terminal Illness”
“Permanently Disabled”
“Financial Ruin”
… but finding our wounds on a list is of little help.  In spiritual warfare and in life, we have to engage the enemies before us, often despite being gravely wounded.  You will have to fight your way out of the cave you find yourself in.  Your struggle may be easier or harder than you envision. 

    A soldier will know that his mission is to “attack” or “defend” or “withdraw”, but this will tell him only the general intention of his commander for the situation.  Confusion sets in the moment we encounter the enemy and a war plan only lasts, as conceived, until the first battle.  We must be flexible, and adjust to a real enemy and dynamic circumstances that could not have been perfectly anticipated by any plan except God's. 

     There are three common mistakes Christians make in the cave:

1.      Ignoring that real enemies are trying to keep you in that cave. Their goal is to get you to surrender, and to turn traitor.  Failing in that, ending your life or rendering it useless to God is nearly as desirable.

2.      Forgetting that your perspective while in the cave is skewed.  An enemy can magnify in our estimation when he attacks suddenly and from the darkness, cuts us off from friendly forces, seems to block our only escape,  and keeps us so punch drunk that we don't properly asses the situation.

In FM 90-6 (the field manual for Army Mountain Operations) describes this type of fight as “compartmentalized warfare”.  This type of combat  ” is won or lost in the mind of the commander,” it continues, “persevering while temporarily outnumbered and out gunned until our superiority in the battle space can be brought to bear.”  The warrior that wins... understands that the enemy wants to keep him misinformed, uninformed, and cut off, and he deals with that reality. 

    Last, and worst, is the fact that you, dear believer, face an enemy that has trained in cave warfare since the fall of man. This is the enemy’s preferred killing ground. It really is worse than you think. Satan, like any predator, seeks to devour those sheep weakened and separated from the flock. However, the final common error, if avoided, will bear us out even when we foolishly make the first two.

3. The third error is forgetting that

  • your commander controls the entire battlefield/cave, and you have been given both power and authority over the enemy 

  • your forces are superior in quality, weaponry, and quantity and that the enemy is already defeated 

    Often the basics of life become too much for the man or woman suffering in the cave. If we can’t even manage the fundamentals of daily survival, we tell ourselves, then how can we manage victory? Our hearts exhausted, our minds unreliable, and with a list of desperately needed miracles, we can make the third error despite ourselves.

But wait, there’s more bad news...
    .. in the long dark night of the soul, you must take great care not to accept the comfort of the enemy.  It is unwise to avail yourself of every ally and resource available.
     It is always better to wait, even painfully, for help from a godly friend or counselor, and for God’s provision.  A true friend will not point out an ungodly means of escape.  A real ally will exhort you in seeking God’s face, God’s wisdom, and God’s heart for your situation.  The Bible tells us that “...faithful are the wounds of a friend.”
    Any resource, to include this blog post, must measure up against and point to God’s Word.  Many books, good and evil, make their way into print.  The mass media, too, is rarely a friend to our Savior; be wary. 

There’s still more bad news...      
       The situation you’re in may be, at least in part,  a consequence of your own sin.   If so, part of what defines victory will be dealing with that conviction as God’s son or daughter.   You’ll need to hold close to the truth that our enemies are Satan, his demons and evil spirits, and sin.  God is not the enemy, you are not the enemy, and neither is anyone who may have wounded you or your loved ones.  As impossible as this can seem, it is the truth. 

The final unpleasant reality...     
     God’s Will for your circumstance – His perfect escape plan for your cave – may be absolutely repugnant to you.  You may have to fight with all of your heart for an outcome God calls for, but that you have no desire for, nor any ability to attain by yourself.   It may well fly in the face of what society, family, and friends tell you is sensible.  You may be unpleasantly labeled for your God-pleasing response, and lose face so that you may prove the perfect will of God.  You may look weak, foolish, or just plain nuts.
     It is a rare circumstance indeed when limited man can see our infinite God coming!  Our Father’s response is not like the answer to a simplistic riddle from a small child.   In his book Secrets of the Vine , Don Wilkinson states “...the valley always lasts longer and cuts closer than we think it has a right to.”  We forget that even now, in our hour of greatest need, we belong completely to Him.  The Lord is the Potter, and we are just the clay.  The sustaining truth? Jeremiah 29:11

       Consider the situation in its entirety; the worst-case scenario:

     You are in a spiritual darkness.  A well armed enemy, expert in cave warfare, wants you spiritually, emotionally, and physically dead.  Their hatred for you defies description. There will be no truce, and the enemy will not give up.  The terrain and climate will make everything you do more difficult.  You will make mistakes, and there will be days when just surviving earns you a checkmark in the win column.  The wounds you now bear will not likely be the last of this battle.  No matter how desperate you are, accepting comfort from the enemy will only make matters worse.  Your own sin may well have been what has brought you to this cavern, resulting in injuries to you and to those around you.  God’s guidance for your escape may make no sense to you; it may seem like He is misinformed, uncaring, or cruel.  You will be spared no human indignity, should it stand between you and a transparent relationship with your God.   Your resources may be spent, and your endurance gone.  If you are able to sleep, it may be tortured and worse than sleeplessness.  Several trials, at once or consecutively, may be upon you.  There is no hope in sight…

.. until you turn your eyes upon Jesus.

B.L.U.F. (Bottom Line Up Front): 

  • Yours is an Impossible Mission, without God. Take a moment, and rest until your heart is still.  The long, dark night of the soul may be upon you, but herein is opportunity. You have been thrust into a fiery furnace, but if you invite the Lord to guide you in the flames, the only thing burned away when it’s over will be what binds you.    

  •   You cannot escape the cave you are in by avoidance.  This is war, and facing reality is crucial to your victory.  Acknowledging wounds, obstacles, and enemy capabilities makes sense.     Be humble enough to ask for His solution, knowing that it will both be better than yours could ever be, and that it will be of real use to the Kingdom.  Don’t fret if you can’t find the right words to express exactly what lies in your heart of hearts, because the Holy Spirit of the Living God translates for you (Romans 8:26), and Jesus Christ Himself advocates on your behalf (Romans 8:34) before Elyon (God in all His Glory).   Receive His grace for your concerns – claim them – and finish your prayer time as the Holy Spirit leads you.  Now trust Him with what you have given Him.  His faithfulness and loving-care of your worries spoken and unspoken in that prayer will not go untended.

  • Commit completely to God’s path and purpose.  God's plan is our only true path, and His friendly forces our only allies. 

  • If you turn your cave into a prayer closet, and really hear from God, any trial can be refining and draw us nearer to our Lord. 
><> D & N

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