Sweet Victory

“I feel thorns where my crown was, I’ll be weak but I’m alive. From the dust until dawn yeah, I’ll survive cause I got sweet victory. Nobody can take it from me, sweet victory. Cause I got, sweet victory, yeah.”

These lyrics are from a song by a Christian artist, Trip Lee, called “Sweet Victory.” He wrote this song to share his testimony of how, for the past 7 years, he has been dealing with many health issues, such as a really bad limp in one of his legs and many other problems. He has experienced many people treating him like he’s just some pop star with nothing wrong in his life, but he’s just like everyone else, dealing with his own struggles. Even in all his struggles, he still has that sweet victory because Jesus Christ has won it for him by dying on the cross and coming for him, even now in his suffering.

Lately, I have been dealing with my own struggles as well. I’ve been chasing after things and hopes and relationships I think I need to be happy. They seem good and wonderful from the outside, but really I’m just searching for things I hope will satisfy the deepest needs of my heart. Each day is a battle with the enemy, with lies and fears racing around in my head. For too long he’s had me so focused on those things, I forgot the One person Who matters most in my life, my Heavenly Father.

The other day, when I was in one of my weakest moments, my God came for me and he told me how much he missed me. Just hearing those words hit me hard, and man did I realize how much I have missed him too! He is the only one Who can satisfy the deepest needs of my heart. He is the only one who can show me the depth of love that I need and desire. He is the only one who can bring me sweet victory. (song below)

What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us?

Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he  also give us everything else? Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one- for God himself has given us right standing with himself. Who then will condemn us? No one- for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us.

Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? (As the scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”) No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow- not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below- indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

(Romans 8:31-39)

What Are We Holding On To?

Life is hard. Often times in life, we feel so miserable. We feel like the world is collapsing on top of us. There’s a war going on. A war that cannot be seen. The enemy is doing whatever it takes to keep us from drawing close to God. He knows he can’t win this fight against him, but he wants to drag us down and steal from us and destroy us. He wants to separate us from what he knows we so desperately need and desire deep down in our hearts. But it seems so easy to give up, to give in to the temptation to take matters into our own hands, or to believe the lies of the enemy. There are days when we feel like giving up is the only thing we can do. I’ve been there! 

There was a time in my life when I finally began to receive the healing I needed from all the pain I experienced, and I began to know and understand the truth of who I really am (read more about my story in my About Me), but the enemy was going to do everything he could to keep me from believing that truth. It was so hard to fight the lies of the Devil. I thought it was never going to get better, that I was never going to become the true me. There were days when the pain was so deep and darkness seemed to be closing in all around me. How could I go on? What was I really fighting for? What could I hold on to that would keep me going?

In the story of the Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, Frodo and Sam have been on this journey to destroy this ring that, in the hands of the evil Sauron, will conquer all of Middle Earth. As Frodo and Sam are on their journey, they battle countless evils and temptations, then they come across a massive army of orcs (goblins) led by Sauron’s followers. Carrying the ring has become too heavy a burden for Frodo. So many times does he want to give up and turn around and go back home. How can he go on?

Paul and the early church knew this same struggle, as they also encountered countless battles, persecutions and temptations. Here he writes:

“We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.

Yes, we live under danger of death because we serve Jesus, so that the life of Jesus will be evident in our dying bodies. So we live in the face of death, but this has resulted in eternal life for you.

But we continue to preach because we have the same kind of faith the psalmist had when he said, ‘I believed in God, so I spoke.’ We know that God, who raised the Lord Jesus, will also raise us with Jesus and present us to himself together with you. All of this is for your benefit. And as God’s grace reaches more and more people, there will be great thanksgiving, and God will receive more and more glory.

That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.”

– Corinthians 4:8-18 NLT

We hold on to hope. We hold on to peace. We hold on to love. We hold on to joy. We hold on to freedom. And most of all, we hold on to the truth that good still exists in this world. We are able to hold on to all of these things because of Jesus…because of this beautiful treasure we hold deep in our hearts. Because of His sacrifice, we can hold on to the truth that we will become whole, and the fight will be won. Don’t give up and don’t lose heart, for your God is fighting right along side you. And believe me, you are worth fighting for.

flowers 7

Do You Remember?

My family loves to watch movies. We love to watch movies and read books that are filled with action and adventure, but also have the romance that every story needs to be a great movie or great book. We love to engage ourselves in a story that we can so often relate to in our spiritual lives. One story that seems to have popped up countless times recently is C.S. Lewis’ The Silver Chair. In the book, Aslan sends Jill and Eustace on a quest to rescue Prince Rilian of Narnia. Aslan gives them signs for them to follow as they embark on their journey. They must cling to his every word and not forget the signs given to them.

But, first, remember, remember, remember the signs. Say them to yourself when you wake in the morning and when you lie down at night, and when you wake in the middle of the night. And whatever strange things may happen to you, let nothing turn your mind from following the signs. And secondly, I give you a warning. Here on the mountain I have spoken to you clearly: I will not often do so down in Narnia. Here on the mountain, the air is clear and your mind is clear; as you drop down into Narnia, the air will thicken. Take great care that it does not confuse your mind. And the signs which you have learned here will not look at all as you expect them to look, when you meet them there. That is why it is so important to know them by heart and pay no attention to appearances. Remember the signs and believe the signs. Nothing else matters.

This new school year, I have taken up some more and bigger responsibilities. I was chosen to be a trumpet section leader for marching band this season and I already feel the pressure of this new role. If you have read the “About Me” page of this blog, then you would know that years ago I never would have thought of taking up such a leadership role as this. I used to shy away from any kind of leadership position. But here I am now leading a group of almost 30 people and my insides are freaking out! It’s so easy for me to automatically start doubting myself and my abilities. I start to think, “What the heck am I doing? I’m not good enough for this!” I begin to wonder what these people are thinking of me and whether what they are thinking is good or bad. But God stops me and he tells me to remember. He tells me to remember what he thinks of me, not to constantly wonder what others think. He also tells me to remember what he has been telling me ever since I started my healing journey, that I am good enough. He tells me that every new journey and quest he puts me on is to make me stronger and to help me become the person that He meant for me to be.

God is calling us up to be a part of a bigger story. His story. Each one of us is embarking on a different journey, a different quest, to fulfill God’s plan for us. These new journeys or quests may be starting a new job, a new school year, new relationships, or even moving to a new place. But just as Aslan warns Jill and Eustace, God warns us that on our quest it won’t be easy and it’ll be easy to forget what He has told us. In Lamentations, Jeremiah writes, “But there’s one thing I remember, and remembering, I keep a grip on hope: God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out, his merciful love couldn’t have dried up. They’re created new every morning. How great your faithfulness! I’m sticking with God (I say it over and over). He’s all I’ve got left,” (Lamentations 3:21-24). Even though the journey will get rough and confusion will begin to take over, we must cling to God and the loving words he has spoken to us, for nothing else will matter.

“When life is heavy and hard to take, go off by yourself. Enter the silence. Bow in prayer. Don’t ask questions: Wait for hope to appear. Don’t run from trouble. Take it full-face. The “worst” is never the worst,” (Lamentations 3:28-30).

Remember.

Remember who you are.

Remember who God is.

Remember that God is making you stronger, bolder, more courageous.

Remember that God is making you to become more of who you are meant to be.

And remember that the journey will be worth it in the end.

flowers 4