The Steps

stairswall

Steps so firm and sure

A call-so strategically marked

Everything so crisp and clear

Step by step moving forward towards destiny

Each move a battle

Every victory makes the next step solid

Finally the fight, begins to fade

Into rest

Inhale, exhale

Colors vibrant

Sounds strong

Ease begins to settle

fadedstairs

Suddenly

The steps fade away

Everything dulls

The path once strong, sure and firm

Gives way

New steps appear

Faded, lonely, unsure

Resistance

A reluctant foot takes a step onto the rocky stair

Will it hold?

Will the staircase emerge from the grassy confusion?

Will the journey be as treacherous as it appears?

Will the climb ever end?

Overcome Evil With Good

Have you ever read a “non-Christian” fiction book that contained spiritual truths that blew you away?  That’s what Lois Lowry’s book “Son”, did to me.  This isn’t a plug for her books, but I cannot stop thinking about what was so eloquently and profoundly depicted.  (Spoiler alert!)

Gabe is the son of Claire.  He was taken from her at birth.  She spends most of the book trying to find her son.  She is finally close to finding him, and has to make a trade with the evil Trademaster, to enter the community he is in.  She trades her youth for entry.  Trademaster only accepts trades of things that are personal to you (ie. Youth, humor, character, intelligence). Trademaster has bargained with many, and many people have given up much of who they are for something they either needed or wanted.  Gabe finally learns that Claire is his mom, but their time is about to be cut short because she is on her death bed.  Gabe must go fight Trademaster to restore his mother’s youth.

Gabe is the only one that can do it because he has a special gift.  He is able to feel what others are feeling.  Trademaster is always lurking close by the village.  Gabe only has to cross the river to meet the evil man.  Gabe is blown away by the pure ugliness Trademaster exudes.  Gabe doesn’t want to kill anyone.  He doesn’t know if he is strong enough.  Trademaster knows that Gabe cannot take his life.   He decides to use his gift.  He gets into Trademaster’s head.  Trademaster is hungry; he is starving.  This is why he is lurking by the river.  It positions him close enough to his victims to see their misery and pain.  This is what feeds him.  He is fueled by other’s suffering.

What does Gabe do with this information?  He uses it to kill Trademaster.  He begins to tell him about the lives of the people he has traded with.  This one woman is doing great.  Another man is doing well.  This other person is thriving.  Each time Gabe tells Trademaster of the positive outcome of a person that should be suffering, Trademaster dies a little more each time.  Finally, Gabe delivers the final blow, and Trademaster is dead!

The verse that immediately came to me, when reading this, is Romans 12:21 “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”  Maybe this is what Paul meant when he penned this.  We spend so much time “fighting”, when maybe all we need to do is stand and say, “no, you meant this for evil, but thanks to the blood of Jesus, we are doing just great!”  It even reminds me of Genesis 50:20 which talks about Joseph after his ordeal, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”

What if, instead of taking a fighting posture, we took a posture of standing?  Ephesians 6:13 “13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.”  What if instead of “fighting evil” we took a position of perfect rest? It’s so important that a whole chapter in Hebrews is dedicated to it. Hebrews 4:1 says, “Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it.”

What would it look like if this is how we overcame evil with good?

The Prophetic Winter

It’s no secret that I’m not terribly fond of winter, but I’ve been noticing all of the winter trees this season.  Trees without leaves, planted strong, seemingly unproductive looking all but dead.  These trees hold beauty to me.  Without their leaves, you can see the beauty of their structure.  Each tree is unique, the way their branches are formed.  Some have large branches out to the side with smaller ones stemming out.  Some branches climb straight up.  Some have lots of large branches and some have clusters of tiny branches.  Some branches make angular turns and others are straight and smooth.  The beauty of the bare structure has captivated me.

One of the reasons that these bare trees hold so much majesty is because they are in their original, raw, form.  Throughout the year they yield their “fruit”, the leaves.  Many times the leaves distract from the structure itself.  Sometimes the leaves are even deceiving (they deceive you by not allowing you to see the structure underneath).  Winter is the season of dormancy.  It is the time where it appears that all life ceases to exist, but this is not the case.

Fall doesn’t just mark a season change.  The leaves changing colors and then falling off serves a vital purpose.  It is preparing the tree for the perseverance required to make it through the winter.  Leaves change colors because the tree is shutting off water and nutrient flow to the leaves to prepare for winter.  If the trees did not cut off this flow, then winter would kill the tree.  It would essentially bleed out all of its nutrients and would die.  This is where I feel like I am.  I feel like my life has produced fruit (leaves).  Some fruit has been genuine and true, so have been of my own making, and some from the influence of others.  I am in my winter season.  All is bare.  I am coming back to my original structure.  I am looking at what my actual shape is.  My trunk and branches are unchangeable.  They came from the original seed that I then became.  The seed is now a strong system of roots.

Roots’ activity is greatly stunted during the winter, although the root system still very much alive.  The roots are at rest, and interestingly enough, the roots grow at different rates, much like people who experience growth in different areas at different times.  Some are dormant while others grow.  Roots grow the most during the spring and early summer.  This is while the buds and leaves are in bloom.  Much growth below the surface happens while the fruit of the tree is visible.

I am currently resting, completely bare.  This is an important part of the life cycle.  During winter, the root system actually stretches out and expands in search for water (this allows for a larger, stronger tree bearing more leaves next season).  This is a time to get back to your roots.  To find out what is true of your root system (the Gospel/the Father vs. religion).  As you do this, your root system will expand and take your little tree to new heights.  When you realize the truth of the seed you came from, your root system expands, growing deeper, and when the next bloom comes, you will be able to see the fruit of your rest.