Hosanna

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My Battle with the Dragon

*sits down with ice cream* Let’s get down to business here.

So basically, these past two weeks have been.…………. Horrible. Truly awful. I’ve been sick, I’ve been stressed like crazy, my life sort of went berserk and hasn’t quite settled back into a routine, and I’ve been carrying a lot of people through hard stuff.

Pretty much, I’m ready for a break. (Which isn’t gonna happen. I already asked God for one and He said “No”.)

You see, I’ve spent a lot of time these past two weeks fighting. Fighting myself. Fighting lies. Even *gasp* fighting God. Fighting the people I love most. Fighting my worst enemy: the dragon that is threatening to destroy me. And he’s doing a really good job of it at the moment.

I’ve been turning something over in my mind though. (And I just realized I have this weird habit of leaning my head to the right all the way until it touches my shoulder when I type… Interesting. ANYWAY.) Have you ever tried to kill a dragon? It’s hard. And I didn’t realize how stinking hard it was until this past week. I’ve got people to help me, but my word, God didn’t create dragons to just be stabbed in the heart and the knight carries the princess off into the sunset. YIKES.

There’s a strategy, a formula, a system. To attack the dragon, you have to learn its weak points, its strengths, what feeds it and what weakens it, how to fight it and what only makes it worse. Because dragons aren’t as easily destroyed as other creatures, in case you didn’t know. (Listen to the dragon expert here.) (And yes, I use parentheses and asterisk marks too much, do you mind??) You have to learn the dragon to successfully defeat him.

Which takes time. And effort. And pain. And it’s a long, hard, very long, very hard procedure and battle. The King will forever look after His children, but there will be pain involved. The princess will be scratched by the dragon’s cutting claws. The knight will be singed by the dragon’s bitter fire. The King will pick them up, dust them off, and return them to the fight. The knight will hold the princess while she cries and the princess will nurse the knight’s wounds. And then they all get back up to fight the dragon.

Because the dragon doesn’t go away. The dragon doesn’t stop just because you’ve given it all you’ve got. The dragon is persistent, never failing, always persisting, never ceasing to try to destroy you with every breath. And it’s hard. It’s very, very hard.

BUT. The King keeps giving strength. I’ve seen it happen to me, His princess, who bears the marks of the dragon’s hate. I’ve seen it happen to the knight, those who have helped me fight this beast. I’ve seen us all fall, and get back up again, a little bruised and maybe broken, but we keep fighting.

And it’s not been easy. Every step of the way has been painful. But we keep going. We keep trying. We keep fighting. Because it’s not by our own strength, but by the strength, grace, and power of the King that we can even fight to begin with. If He gives us the strength to begin the fight, He will give us the strength to finish it. And He is victorious; He will defeat the dragon.

Hidden Grace

It’s there in the sorrow of the final goodbye.

It’s there in the stillness of the water, the silence of the edge of brokenness.

It’s there in the darkest moment, when you’re screaming and on the verge of death.

It’s there in the face of the newborn, innocence and perfection in such a tiny bundle.

It’s there in the leap of your heart when she whispers that she loves you .

It’s there in the victory of successes and the lessons from defeat.

It’s there when all hope seems lost, and a light flickers in the distance.

It’s there at the burning edge of dawn, when the season of night is drawing to an end.

It’s there in the magnificent glory of a sunset, as the earth is bathed injaw dropping hues of orange and pink and the glory of God.

It’s there. It’s His hidden graces. His grace finds us even in the dead of night.

I’m Learning

Right now as I’m typing this, I’m sitting on my bed in my room. My phone is buzzing with texts from people who love me, trying to get me to do something that I need to do but won’t.

And… Okay, I confess. It’s annoying. (I love y’all…)

I’ve got this irritating trait about me, called stubbornness. It’s one of my strongest traits. I’m pretty hard-headed and, well okay I guess I’ll say it, rebellious. So stubbornness just fits right in there.

At the moment, I’ve been putting off something I should be doing for about five days now. And it’s kind of really important, like essential to survival kind of important. But stubborn ole me is rebelling against what I know I should do, and is refusing to admit the truth. Because, I kind of do that a lot actually.

(Don’t be like me, okay? Learn from my mistakes, don’t repeat them.)

I need to take a minute to be real with y’all. This is an insanely hard time of my life right now. I mean it, I’m on the brink of something that could change my life forever. Which isn’t altogether a comforting thought, if I’m honest with you. God’s working some things in my life that don’t seem to have any purpose or direction or reason… I feel like Wylie Coyote when he’s run off the edge of the cliff, and is hanging in mid air while he realizes what’s about to happen. Or a boat that’s on a river, and has reached the waterfall and is about to make the plunge over.

It’s not very fun.

(And my Capital Kings won’t load. Siiiigh.)

And I’m looking down… The water is churning below me and I don’t know if I’m going to drown. The bottom of the canyon is hard and dry, and I don’t know if I’m going to break. It’s scary, not knowing what to do or where to go.

It’s late at night here… I’ve been operating on about four hours of sleep every night for the past week. Because of reasons we won’t mention. None of which have been altogether fun. I’m drained mentally, physically, and emotionally. Life has been very hard right now.

But here’s the coolest part: I’m not fighting alone.

You see, I’ve learned something this past week that has never hit me so hard before. I don’t have a lot of friends. I’m not a very popular person. I’ve got some aspects of my life that would be repelling to most.

But the beautiful thing is, I have friends who love me as Christ loves me.

I’ve got friends who will encourage me to do the right thing even when they know it’s painful and I know it’s painful. I’ve got friends who will push me to fight the demons in my mind. I’ve got friends who love me in spite of my darkest sins. I’ve got friends who will fight the dragon for me. I’ve got friends who will stay up until 2:00 in the morning because I need help. It’s incredible.

I have people showing me grace, love, acceptance, patience, and holding me in my darkest hour. It’s incredible.

But this is ultimately so amazing because it is a reflection of what my Father does for me.

I heard it through the tears in the voice of my friend. In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.

It’s true. Our Father has overcome the world.

He has overcome the tears from the hurt that have dried on my phone screen. (Probably a bad idea… Should clean that off, huh?)

He has overcome the darkness that presses me at night.

He has overcome the dragon that whispers in my ear when I look at my reflection.

He has overcome the pain from yesterday, the defeat of tomorrow, and the silence of the moment. He is more than the bitter pang in your heart, the nudge of guilt, the moments of regret from the past.

It’s hard. He never promised that life would be hard. He never promised that you wouldn’t spend nights in tears, curled up and wishing that it would all go away. He didn’t say that we wouldn’t experience pain, rejection, loneliness, disappointment, or fear.

But. He did say that He has overcome it.

And this is the God we serve. This is our Savior, our Lord and King, our Heavenly Father. He is our light and our comforter. Even when there is no hope to be seen.

I am cleaving to the rock of my salvation. On Christ I will depend. My hope is Jesus.

Hey

Hello, all. It’s been a crazy time of my life right now (I know, that probably gets old, I’m sorry), and so I haven’t had much to say. But I haven’t forgotten y’all. 🙂 I’ll be back soon.

Grace, Grace, God’s Grace

Why am I sitting in my bed at midnight watching Bonanza and eating tortellini??

Let’s just say I have sleeping problems.

But while I’m sitting here, I’m once again struck in awe at God’s grace.

I have anger issues. I have friends who struggle with lashing out. I have friends who struggle with forms of immorality. I have friends who struggle with bad attitudes. The list goes on and on and on and on.

No good Christian admits to those things. Right?

We gasp, “Oh, no, *I* don’t struggle with any of those things. True Christians don’t have those kinds of problems.” AKA, “I’m a perfect saint.”

Or, if we were to really look underneath their saintly garb, we would find a depraved sinner just as guilty as we ourselves.

But we don’t want to see that side, do we?

Because who hasn’t struggled with anger in some degree? Who hasn’t said something they regret? Who hasn’t dealt with immorality in some way? Who hasn’t had a bad attitude when something doesn’t go their way? I dare you to find one person who hasn’t dealt with all of the above. And if you find one person (which you won’t), you’ll find that they’re liars who just want to hide their sins beneath their pile of guilt.

We’re all sinners. We all sin. Multiple times every day. And we will never be perfect. We will sin until the day we die.

But here’s the good news for you, my fellow sinner. The grace that covers my anger covers yours. The grace that covers my lashing out covers your lashing out. The grace that covers my selfishness covers yours. The grace that covers my bad attitudes and rebellion covers yours.

It’s beautiful.

It’s because of what was accomplished on the cross. The blood that flowed freely from the deep holes in Jesus’ hands and feet, the blood that ran down from His head, the blood in His sweat that dripped from His body, all was poured out so that your immorality could be canceled in the eyes of God. It was shed so that Lauren S.’s anger would be wiped away. It was shed so that your bad attitudes would no longer blot your record.

Because now all that remains is a page as white as snow.

Sin had left a crimson stain – He washed it white as snow.

You didn’t deserve it. No more than I do. And God alone knows that my sins from the past 24 hours alone would condemn me to an eternity in hell.

He didn’t want that for me. It broke His heart so much that He sent His Son to endure the pain of hell so that I could be free from that debt.

This is why it’s amazing grace. It wasn’t deserved. It came at such a high cost. But His love for us far out-measured the price that had to be paid. He literally went through hell itself so He could hold you in His arms forever.

Talk about insane love!!

And when my sins were wiped away, it wasn’t just left an empty slate. My hatred was replaced with forgiveness. My anger was replaced with crazy love. My immorality was replaced with righteousness. My lack of self-control was replaced with redemption. My transgressions were replaced with justification. All of my sins were wiped away completely, gone forever, and replaced with love and grace. The angry, self-centered, bitter, immoral, judgmental, jealous, hateful Lauren was forgiven and freed. Forever and ever. It was covered by the grace of my Savior, Jesus Christ.

It doesn’t get any better than that.