How blessed we are to have friends who lift us up, who speak truth to us, who listen, give advice, encouragement and their constant prayers. This is richness; this is true treasure to have such wonderful women in your life.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

The Unparalled Static of the Rivals in Our Lives

"In this life there is so much static.  The vibrant, unrivaled God-life you long for will not be found by casual pursuit.  It requires concentration in a world bombarded with distractions.  If you are not intentional, you will be diverted by the many distractions that vie for your attention"~Lisa Bevere

 Peter and I used to play Scrabble during our early years of marriage.  There is a reason why we don't any longer.  I hate to him.  There was a time when a game of Scrabble was our evening entertainment, especially when I was pregnant with our first child.  I am going to confess something now on the internet...I cheated.  I would excuse myself to use the restroom...because after all, pregnant women when need to go when they need to go.  What Peter didn't know was that I had stashed a Lamaze book in our dirty clothes hamper.  By the time I hit the board with my 8 letter, double space on a "q," triple word extravaganza of a medical Lamaze term, Peter did not know what had hit him. 
But one night, even with all my "extra help," I could see I was going to lose.  So I did what any other good and loving wife would have done...I picked that board up and slammed it closed as hard as I could.  Letters flew across the room.  Yep...true story.  At that moment I did not see Peter as my handsome, young husband...he was my rival and I HAD TO WIN!

Lisa Bevere writes in her book when relating the story about David and Saul that "David's best brought out Saul's worst."  Oh, man!  I have lived that out in honest to goodness real life.  Seeing others as rivals and our victory the only option to happiness is a huge distraction from the life God has intended for us.

There are other distractions that rise up as rivals in our our own self-talk.  Recently I spent an entire one hour drive having a looong conversation with my husband who was not there.  Now before you start thinking you need to get me some help, let me explain a bit.  Peter had really ticked me off before I left on this little trip.  Since I am a word girl, I lived and relived what I would say when I saw him later that evening.  Let's just say it was a good thing he WASN'T in the car. 

The character, Benedict in Shakespeare's play, Much Ado About Nothing, said this about Beatrice:  "She speaks poniards, and every word stabs.  If her breath were as terrible as her terminations (words), there were no living near her; she would infect to the north star."  Very definitely This could be said about me.  Not good.  Gratefully, the Lord has done a work in me to keep my mouth closed tightly when such thoughts are rotating through my mind.

Finally, sometimes the rivals in our lives are actual rivals...people who either we want what they have or they want what we have, or we both want the same thing.  Competing for a job, position, a title, or award all require that you have a rival.  It is in how you behave in these situations that is the real test.  

My daughter-in-law, Jen recently wrote a wonderful blog piece entitled "Keep Playing." You can read it here:  In this post she relates the story of my eight year old granddaughter, Rebekah, who had been playing in a state all star tournament.  Rebekah's team lost both their games by A LOT and when Jen found Rebekah crying she was sure that it would be for the obvious reasons, but when she asked Rebekah why she was crying, Jen was surprised to find that the tears were not from anger or embarrassment.  Rebekah simply said, "I just want to keep playing."  There is some deep truth in this innocent statement of Rebekah's.Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, standing and outdoor

Recently, I had a friend who I watched go through just such a situation.  When the position she had held was given to another, she was say the least.  More accurate...she was heartbroken...and then it morphed into anger.  But what happened next is a monument to her willingness to humble herself and stop the plans of the enemy.  Instead of "grabbing her ball and leaving" she instead said, "How can I help?"  "What can I do to make this better?"  Instantaneously things changed.  What could have been a disaster for many, turned instead into a blessing for many.  My friend decided to "keep playing," and to this day, I am still impressed with this kind of humility.

Here's the thing.  All the time while I was pondering this subject, the Lord kept bringing to mind the verse in Ephesians 6:12 "For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in heavenly places." (ESV).  All these rivalries might have the faces of people, but the real enemy is forces we cannot see except in the Scrabble tiles sailing through the air,  or gravel flying as someone peals out of the driveway (who would do that?) or in divisive talk to gain a following for your side or a family or church shattered by division.  Honestly, it is very much like the heavenly angel and the pitchfork guy sitting on opposite shoulders as we decide:  
How are we going to handle this?

We have incredible power to unleash the wrath of God on those "spiritual forces of evil in heavenly places" by our choice.  How do we react to all those things that rise up as rivals to what we truly should be doing?  Can we humble ourselves and let others "win?"  Can we be gracious when we see the best in others?  Can we crush the enemies head by letting go of what we feel is our right?

I watched it happen.  I witnessed what can happen when we choose to NOT get distracted by rivalsThe power of humility and selfless love triumphed so gracefully it spilled out and transformed a difficult situation into one of infinite beauty. 

Be intentional.  Let me make this personal...Cherri,  you be intentional...don't get distracted by rivals who bombard your mind diverting your attention from what is true and valuable.  Focus on what is REALLY happening, open your eyes...see your rival for who he truly is and fight the good fight with humility and wisdom.

Until next week...with love to you, my friends!