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Are you listening, LORD?

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19 However, God has listened;
He has paid attention to the sound of my prayer.
20 May God be praised!
He has not turned away my prayer
or turned His faithful love from me

Psalm 66:19-20  (HCSB)

     I write another blog, http://fierydarts.com, which encompasses a primary weapon Satan uses against us in spiritual warfare. So, today, my hope is to blend some of the concepts of that blog with what we as missionary’s parents are facing in this pandemic.

     Our missionary children are scattered all over the world. Prior to this pandemic, our problems and their problems were uniquely tied to location. However, now we find ourselves facing the common threat of the coronavirus. A worldwide threat that is redefining life as we know it. Should our missionary children come home, or shelter in place right where they are? Oh, it’s a complicated scenario and every family’s response can only be determined by the details of their particular situation. No one plan works for everyone. We are concerned about them and they are concerned about us!

What are we to do?

     My fiery darts blog exposes the foremost weapon Satan uses against us in times like this which is referenced in Ephesians 6:16,

 “above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.” NKJV

     Here is how it applies to our present dilemma.

     Fear spawned by this Coronavirus threat is a very present reality.   Unchecked fear breeds panic, panic breeds irrational thinking, irrational thinking breeds wrong choices. It goes on and on.

     How we contend with our fears and all its relatives are the fiery darts of Eph. 6:16.  Satan’s intent in this pandemic is to steal, kill, and destroy anything God infuses us with to carry us through this crisis. 

     God, on the other hand, intends to take the fear and use it to direct us to Himself. In that response, we will be helped and God will be glorified. By responding according to God’s plan as we counsel and pray over our children, we will be instruments of God’s will in how to tackle this crisis. 

Keep in mind the following as we pray for our children, wherever they are.

1. Recognize the fear (fiery dart)

2. Reject the fear

3. Replace the fear with God’s Truth thoughts

     As I pray over my children and their families in this crisis, one of the first Truth thoughts God gave me was 2 Timothy 1:7. Every time fear approaches, I call forth this Truth.

 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind

     God’s word ASSURES us that He is watching over us and our precious ones. We can wholeheartedly trust that God is definitely paying attention to our prayers. Likewise, may we receive and become the instruments of peace of Philippines 4:6-7:

     Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

(Especially, when the fiery dart of doubt begins its assault)

Safe from Fear!

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     In light of the horrors inflicted upon innocent Christians, Jews, and now US citizens in hotspots across our globe, it seems safe havens are in high demand. Those in dangerous areas are seeking places of safety and security, uprooting their families and enduring hardships beyond imagination to find it. Yes, the temptation for me to fear for the safety of my loved ones and friends living in these foreign lands weighs heavily upon me.

 

A dear lady came to me yesterday in church and asked me, “Wouldn’t you rather they just come home?” 

Whoa! good question but consider the following?

 

     God began teaching me how to deal with fear as my first born daughter  (9 years of age at the time) was home recovering after being hit by a car. I became afraid to let any of my 4 children leave my sight. Fear debilitated me until God got through to me with the realization that I simply couldn’t live in a state of fear! He reminded me, He had a better plan. (Jeremiah 29:11) 

     Then again, as my son through-hiked the Appalachian Trail, He gave me fresh insight on how to trust my child’s well being to Him and built again upon the lessons that released me from the suffocating grip of fear. (Isaiah 41:10)

     Now, God has added new instruction on how to resist the debilitating force of fear. First, He helped me to RECOGNIZE that fear is a fiery dart, a weapon of the evil one to undermine my faith. Second, He empowered me to RESIST it. Third, He supplied me with a Truth thought to REPLACE the thoughts of fear seeking to manipulate me.

 

The Truth Thought that extinguishes the fiery dart of fear?

 For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.2 Timothy 1:7

 

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     It is a scary thing at times to place your children in the center of God’s will!  The fiery dart of fear will attempt to convince you to do otherwise. But I have learned repeatedly throughout my parenting life that being in the center of God’s will is the safest place on earth for them. I have tried God in this and He has proven over and over that He’s got their well being foremost in His plans. 

     Yes, I am tempted to fear and plead with God to bring my son and his family safely home, but knowing they would have to step outside of God’s will to do that would be asking God to remove His protective hand.

No, I am not willing to ask God to do such a thing. 

It’s a matter of obedience!

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Me & my boy! It's a mom thing!

Me & my boy! It’s a mom thing!

     I don’t know if you have noticed or not  that while my blog never plays down the struggles of living so-o-o-o far apart from my child, I always make it clear that God’s love, grace, and mercy champions me in those struggles.  Since releasing my son to the call of missions on his life, joy and peace have been my constant companions and have made what would have been an impossibility in my own strength a glorious possibility in His. (I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13)

     I write this blog to encourage other parents who find themselves on a journey such as mine. I want to assure you that releasing your child to missions or whatever God has called them to is not something to fear. (Remember, the safest place on earth is in the center of God’s will!)

     Recently, a grandmother of a brand-new missionary shared with me that she had expressed to  her grandchild her heartfelt wish that she wasn’t going so far away. Her missionary grandchild responded with, “Granma, would you want me to disobey God so I could be near you?”  That grandmother began to understand with greater clarity the priority of obedience. 

     My dear parent, releasing your child to do the work God has called them to is hard, I know! But the pain of releasing your child should not be your focus. Instead, the obedience to release your child should be.  As you obediently release your child, God’s grace, peace, and mercy will wash over you as a soothing balm. Your heart will be comforted; joy and peace will be your constant companions as you make this journey. It’s a blessed life and you will be just as grateful as I am to be living it!

6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

Learning how to focus!

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Those of you who know me and my situation are aware of the turmoil in the land to which my son has been called.  Therefore, you are knowledgeable of the dark curtain of uncertainty enveloping our family as a result of this turmoil.  You have heard the pleas for safety and are faithfully praying that impenetrable hedge of protection around them daily,

And I couldn’t be more grateful!

I confess, these days are difficult!  But there was one weekend when I knew my son, his family, and his team mates with their young families would be traveling a distance of 3 hours to their permanent home.  Three hours out in the open, vulnerable and exposed to come what may.  My son called me to let me know when they would be leaving.  Though he didn’t mention it specifically, I assumed he would call me as soon as they arrived so that I would know they had made it successfully.

Two days later, I still had not heard a word about whether or not they had made that 3 hour drive safely.  There is no internet connection in their locality but we can make connection by phone.  I made sure my cell phone was easily accessible throughout the day.  I made phone calls to my other children and my prayer partner to bolster up my courage as I faced this uncertainty.  There was a moment when my courage waned and my resistance to the possible scenarios they might have faced on the road was depleted.  Of course, the fact that the previous night had been spent in fitful dreaming about my son only served to fuel my fears the following day. 

First thing I did was call my prayer partner and ask her to pray over the specifics of the fears that were tempting to deplete me of my peace.  Then I searched in my Bible for verses having to do with protection and peace.   I went to my computer and typed in the words God’s protection and God’s peace.  Then I copied those verses onto a word document and printed them out.  I spent the rest of the day, reading those verses over and over in a prayerful mode.  My immediate fears were abated by the powerful truths of those verses.  

The next day was Sunday and because I still had not heard from my son, I kept my phone in my hand constantly (with the mute button engaged of course) just in case he might call.  My husband (being the pastor) asked for prayer over our son and that we might hear something soon.

That afternoon I decided to contact my daughter-in-law’s parents just in case they might have heard something I had not.  And sure enough, their daughter had called them  and reported that they were safe and sound.  

My son was in serious trouble! Can you figure out why?

It’s a good thing my son did not call me during those next several minutes.  I would have bitten his head off in that state, I am sure, if he had.  By the time he had called me (which was the next day) I had calmed down considerably. And I am so-o-o glad I did.   Come to find out, he HAD called me upon his arrival at their home, but for some reason, the message failed to reach me.  And another tidbit of knowledge that would have calmed my mounting fears was the fact that wherever my son, his family, and the other team member’s family went they were accompanied by armed guards.  So on that 3-hr trip, they had armed guards riding with them in their vehicles.  (I sure wished I’d known that) I found that out later when my son called.  But not knowing that, the only comforting thought I could muster during those hours of worried waiting was:

No news is good news!

What did I learn from that miserable weekend?  When the pressure is on the temptation to think the worst gains strength and momentum. Therefore, it’s vital to remember verses like the following:

Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. James 4:7

If I ever get in this dilemma again, I will remember that, “No news is good news!”, and just camp down on that thought with all my might.  Also, I will do a better job of reining in those fiery darts of fear and implore the power of this verse:

You will keep the mind that is dependent on You in perfect peace, for it is trusting in you. Isaiah 26:3

I can say that I did two things right:

 1) calling upon a prayer partner to pray over me and the situation  

2) explore the Bible for verses that spoke truth to the lies with which I was being bombarded.  

As I examined the details of that agonizing weekend, there were some key factors that contributed to my failure to maintain a clear and stubborn focus on God’s faithfulness.  As I mentioned earlier, a disturbing dream the previous night had unnerved me and my mind replayed that dream repeatedly the following day. (It wasn’t so much the content of the dream but the evil spin Satan placed upon it) When I fought to focus on the ‘no news is good news’ and the truths of God’s protection as revealed in the verses I had printed out, that dream would thrust itself back into the center of my focus.  But I did persevere and eventually, by God’s loving grace, I was released from its evil influence. 

I will wrap up this post by commenting that if I have to face something like that again the following verse will be my ‘go to’ verse for the power to fight off the fear, dream or no dreams:

God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. 2 Tim. 1:7 KJV

 

 

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