Rehearse the Truth

“You just rehearse the Truth,” she told me like she always does when I share my struggles with her.

She has taught me the Word well and although I know the Promises of God intimately and know how to feed myself spiritually, she remains a voice that reminds me to hold fast in the midst of struggles as God pushes back the darkness with His marvelous Light. In His Light, we see Light. Her resolution sharpens me and inspires me to sharpen others.

“Therefore, I will always remind you about these things—even though you already know them and are standing firm in the truth you have been taught. And it is only right that I should keep on reminding you as long as I live.” ~2 Peter 1:12-13

Last week as we chatted over the internet, I revealed to her every struggle that makes joy just so hard. As I heard the faithful instruction that is ever on her tongue, I felt the sting of defeat. I thought I had been doing just that — rehearsing the Truth & remembering the promises of God — and yet fear and hopelessness had continued to distract in the fierce battle for joy and steadfastness that I am engaged in.

This friend – this gift from the very heart and wisdom of God – knows my struggles well.  She has spent hours listening, loving, discipling, and encouraging. Although we live on opposite sides of the earth, our passion for holiness and our pursuit for lost sisters spurs us on, and the Spirit who connects our hearts gives her more supernatural discernment than she understands.

And as she listened and gave me the gentle nudge towards realization of sin, our Father drew me in under his wing of protection…

“He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection.” ~Psalm 91:4

…removing the veil from my eyes and showing me how He has been whispering His Word to my heart all along during the moments of temptation that I was sharing with her. He says He will never leave me and He hasn’t. He promises to always give me a way out during temptation, and He has. He tells me that I have been given everything for life and godliness, and I have. Had I been living in a manner that was worthy of my calling? Had I been outwardly obeying, yet inwardly wrought with fear and worry? There was conviction, but there was thankfulness.  Conviction leads to repentance, and repentance leads to freedom. Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom and when He convicts it is out of a heart of love, with holiness as the goal.

I was so blind, but now I see.

I was confused, but now it’s clear.

I thought I had been rehearsing the Truth, when in reality, I had been rejecting the Truth.

I thought I had been clinging to His Promises, when in reality, I had been ignoring them.

I thought I had been looking to Jesus, but in reality, I had been looking at myself.

Several weeks ago, there was a shooting near my language school.  I walked out of class to see the chaos of emergency responders, and traffic jams on every street.  This murder took place in a small office on the exact street that I walk down every single day to and from class. On this day, I miraculously lingered after class about 5 minutes longer because my husband decided to come pick me up at my class instead of having me walk to meet him. On any normal day, I would have been in the wrong place at the wrong time – possibly witnessing or hearing more than I could handle. As I sat in the front seat of our car, letting the reality sink in that God had graciously redirected my steps that day, my thoughts quickly followed into the dangerous territory of despair as I considered where the victim most likely is right now. “Please God…were they one of the few believers here?” my heart cried.  Yes, as my thoughts fed on despair, fear followed closely behind, and before I knew it, a situation that had nothing to do with me became a cage that held my courage hostage.

I read the news the following morning before I had to walk to language school alone, right by the office where the murder took place.  It turns out that a man shot and killed his wife, and then attempted to shoot and kill himself.  Although he was taken to the hospital, I felt deeply the hopelessness that drove him to such extremes – I made his hopelessness my own. His hopelessness is not my responsibility, it’s God’s.  My responsibility is to pray for him, but prayer wasn’t on my mind.

This was the exact moment of temptation. This was the moment where my gaze shifted from Christ and I forgot His faithfulness. This was the moment that my painful past controlled my hope-filled present – this is where the memories of my own dad’s suicide were sparked by this man’s attempted suicide. This was the moment that my trust in Jesus melted into a puddle of disappointment and anxiety. This was the moment where fear to walk down a street caused my hands to shake and my stomach to ache.  This was the moment where I felt hopeless that the Lord will ever save anyone from this dark country.

This was the exact moment where I needed to rehearse the Truth of who God is and who I am as His child. No pain of the past and no circumstance in the present and no fear of the future can overtake a daughter of the One True King. I am His and His promises are mine.

“For no temptation (no trial regarded as enticing to sin), [no matter how it comes or where it leads] has overtaken you and laid hold on you that is not common to man [that is, no temptation or trial has come to you that is beyond human resistance and that is not adjusted and adapted and belonging to human experience, and such as man can bear]. But God is faithful [to His Word and to His compassionate nature], and He [can be trusted] not to let you be tempted and tried and assayed beyond your ability and strength of resistance and power to endure, but with the temptation He will [always] also provide the way out (the means of escape to a landing place), that you may be capable and strong and powerful to bear up under it patiently.” 1 Corinthians 10:13

Yes, this was the exact moment of temptation, but looking back now, I can see that the Lord’s presence was so very near.  I can see the means of escape to a landing place of hope that He never failed to provide…

“How could he do such a thing,” I thought, regarding the man who killed his wife.

“How could he shoot himself……I hate suicide… could my dad do that to me…’s not fair God, how could you do this to me….” I thought as temptation had it’s way with me.

I will never leave you nor forsake you,” from Hebrews 13:5 came immediately to mind….but…as soon as the first words of this scripture came to mind, I quickly brushed them off. I ignored the way out God was giving me.

“I will never leave you…..yeah yeah I know….how could that guy do such a thing? Why am I even here? No one here will ever turn to Jesus,” I thought as I rejected the Spirit-given Truth and refocused on what I felt rather what I knew to be true.

“All the nations you have made will come and worship before you, Lord,” from Psalm 86:9 immediately came to mind…but….that was interrupted by fear.

“All the nations….yeah but I’m so scared,” I confessed to God silently.

“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand,” is what the Spirit brought to mind, but again, I did not choose to slow down and actually remember His promises…

“Fear not….Oh I really don’t want to walk down that street. What if something like that happens again? How will I handle it?,” I started thinking

Temptation is tiring and it’s not easy, but the Father promises to never leave us. We will all be tempted, and it’s not a matter of if but when. Jesus Himself was tempted, and because His temptation was more than any of us will ever deal with, He knows and understands the difficulty.  He also knows the secret to victory that is the Word of God. Every single time the devil tempted Jesus in the wilderness, Jesus recited scripture back to him until the devil eventually left. The Holy Spirit has been faithfully and quickly bringing the Word of God to my mind, but just because it was brought to mind, does not mean I was rehearsing it. If we recognize the help God gives us in the moment of trial and yet brush it off (perhaps because we think we already know the scripture and we think we don’t actually need to recite every word of it slowly and thoughtfully), we are not allowing it to bathe our dark struggles in His Light and renew our minds.

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” ~Romans 12:2

“For because He Himself [in His humanity] has suffered in being tempted (tested and tried), He is able [immediately] to run to the cry of (assist, relieve) those who are being tempted and tested and tried [and who therefore are being exposed to suffering].” ~Hebrews 2:18, Amplified

My prayer for you is that you will spend time reading the Bible so that in the moments of weakness, the Spirit can easily bring scripture to mind. I pray that as scripture comes to mind, you will recite it slowly, allowing it to defeat that which is threatening your joy. I pray that you will keep your eyes on Jesus, allowing His Promises to strip off every weight that slows you down and sin that trips you up. I pray that you will praise Him through the storm, knowing that victory is just over the horizon.  I pray that you will walk hope-filled with courage as you stand firm on His Promises and allow Him to fight for you.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.” ~Hebrews 12:1-2

“And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.” ~2 Peter 1:4