Thursday, July 14, 2016

Sleep-deprived and Stomping on Serpents

Luke 10:19 has long been one of my favorite verses of scripture. It reads as follows in the Amplified version:

Behold! I have given you authority and power to trample upon serpents and scorpions, and [physical and mental strength and ability] over all the power that the enemy [possesses]; and nothing shall in any way harm you.

Jesus spoke these words to "the seventy," after they returned from being sent out by Him "like lambs into the midst of wolves" (Luke 10:3). The seventy were returning to the Lord with joy and marveling to Jesus that "...even the demons are subject to us in Your name!"

I love the picture of power this scene paints--the power of the Lord Jesus Christ, creator of the universe, given to a bunch of guys whose names we don't even know, guys we know only as "the seventy." This scene reminds me that Jesus freely gives His power to anyone genuinely seeking to do His will. It reminds me that, whenever we find ourselves feeling like a lamb in the midst of wolves, we can take comfort knowing that God's power is always stronger and more real than any feeling we may have. No matter how insignificant or incapable or unequipped you ever feel, if Jesus is your Lord then you possess physical and mental strength and ability over ALL the power of the enemy! And we don't just tiptoe around serpents and scorpions, either. No, we walk right over them, trampling them unapologetically and without missing a stride, knowing that as we do nothing will in any way harm us!

What an awesome promise this is. What a completely amazing truth! The trick is, though, as a follower of Jesus do you actually believe this promise? Do you receive it? you? I think that many times Christians don't see this truth play out in their lives, and they don't live with this sort of power and command over their circumstances, because of how they feel. I think Christians often don't feel like they have the power and authority of Jesus to trample their serpents and scorpions, and as a result they get tricked into believing they do not have it. Wrong! This promise from the lips of Jesus has absolutely nothing to do with how we feel, and the sooner we realize that the sooner we can get on with the trampling!

I remember about 17 years ago, as a young Christian with a young family I was working a full-time job all day, pushing myself to progress in my fledgling career while also working a second job delivering papers at night. I would go home each day after work from my day job, spend a few family hours together with Colette and our 2-year-old son Jackson, then sleep for a few hours and get back up at 1:00 or 1:30am and head out to work the paper route till 5:00 or 6:00 am, after which I'd change clothes in a McDonalds bathroom and then head back into my day job and start the cycle all over again.

We did this crazy routine for a whole year. Colette miraculously handled virtually every aspect of our home (while pregnant with Boy #2 Hunter, I might add) so I could work the 2-job schedule we needed at that point to make ends meet. We knew this routine was hard, seemingly impossible and utterly exhausting. But you know what I remember most about this time? Not that it was a hard time, although in the natural it was hard in many ways. No, I remember it mostly as a joyful, purposeful, and thriving time for our young family as we pursued our destiny and dreams together. I remember the satisfaction of working hard--together--doing what we could and leaving what we couldn't in the hands of the Lord.

I remember a simple contentment and joy at night, coming home exhausted but thankful, and laying down to precious if short sleep with my beautiful wife and our little son.

Taking a break with newborn awesome year and one to remember for sure!

I remember having a real sense of purpose when the alarm went off each morning at that crazy hour when no one in their right mind should ever be awake, and trudging back to the grind because it was necessary; and even more than that--because it was my privilege and honor to be entrusted with such a great responsibility of love. I remember driving the eerily silent midnight streets of Detroit alone, delivering papers in the midst of the very real and tangible presence of God who was right there with me in the car. It was like me and Jesus were the only ones in the whole city awake at that hour, like two old friends just hanging out together. In an odd sort of way it was always just a little bit disappointing when the sun finally did start to crack over the horizon.

Then, after a full year of this routine, I remember the utter joy and excitement we had when I landed a new job that provided the income we needed so I could quit the paper route and focus on advancing in a one-job career. And fast-forwarding to today, God has in His infinite grace and love and generosity continued to surprise and bless us in so many ways over and over ever since.

Family times with Grammy & Papa!

Out to eat at one of our long-time favorite places - Chili's!

Looking back, if at the time we would have focused on the difficulties and struggles we faced, I'm not sure how we could have done it. But I've learned that whenever you make up your mind to take Jesus at His word, impossible--as they say--is nothing! We trampled the serpents and scorpions of fatigue, mental exhaustion, financial stress, and discouragement. We walked in the very real physical and mental strength and ability Jesus provides each of us over all the power that the enemy possesses.

We leaned on God. We had to. But does that ever really change? Don't we always have to lean on Him, really? Does our need for Him in any way ever lessen, even after the many blessings and provision we may experience over many years?

No, of course not. In fact, our need for Jesus should actually grow each and every day, out of gratitude for His goodness and a simple desire to know Him more closely. But we need to remind ourselves of this often. We need to ask ourselves frequently if there are any areas of our life where we've relinquished the power Jesus has given to the power that the enemy possesses. And if the answer is ever yes, even just a tiny little yes, then it's time to kick ourselves in the butt and remind ourselves who we are in Christ, recall what He has given us to face every need, and then get back to trampling and stomping all those serpents and scorpions--In Jesus' name!

Thanks for reading!