Updated: May 24, 2021
“For our fight is not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, and against spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:2, MEV).
I mop the sweat off of my brow, finally finished. For me, finishing a work-out is always the best part. Today, however, somewhere between stretching to get my sore muscles ready to move, and that final, happy moment when I turn off the loud, pulsating music because I’m done, something special happens.
I should probably add that my mind wanders when I work out, analyzing, sorting, categorizing. My life. Your life. All life. It’s all over the map, this brain of mine.
But today, all of the elements that can be coalesced into a thought, timed perfectly, I might add, to TobyMac’s “Get Back Up.” It's an important thought that I’d been trying to grab a hold of and crystalize all week.
Am I working in my passion?
It sounds simple, I know. But in that moment, I feel like I’m finally grasping a hold of the answer. It’s not just some nebulous question. It's a deep and profound one that I know will matter to me long after I’ve reached the age where these workouts will end and my life (should a long one be granted) will finally wind down.
Am I being fearless in pursuit of what sets my soul on fire?
I finally acknowledge more deeply the cost of the last year and a half, a season that completely upended me. I married a wonderful man. A huge blessing, yes. A complete change of my identity, how I function and how I view myself—also yes. I went from three kids and a daughter-in-law to focusing on a blended family of eight. A huge blessing AND another huge upending of my identity. My daughter is about to leave the proverbial nest for college. I finally get to pursue a career I actually enjoy, and can also start moving The Dented Fender forward again. Change, change, and more change. Oh, and COVID-19 and the weight gain that came with it. ‘Nuff said.
Somewhere between arm lifts and leg lifts, it occurs to me I’m finally stepping back into myself again. I’ve been there all along, of course. A scattered, sometimes fractured, slightly overwhelmed version of me, true, but still there. It’s like I’m rediscovering what it means to be comfortable in my own skin again, and today it feels really good.
As Toby sings, “We lose our way, we get back up again. It’s never too late to get back up again, one day you’re going to shine again,” I realize clearly that I am passionate about Jesus. About helping people who need to get back up again because, like me, they’ve been hit hard by this world. I know that I know from the bottom of my soul that it is never too late for you, for me, for anyone to get back up and turn to Jesus. To grab a hold of a child-like faith that says, “I may have failed for many, many years at “x,” but by the grace of God, he will continue to mold me to become more like “y,” more like him. I realize I believe, with all my heart, the Lord can change a tiger’s stripes.
I think of my own stripes, the ugly ones I don’t like and carry with me. A slow smile teases along my lips as I realize I’ve been on-time or early to nearly every appointment I’ve had for the last six months or so. That the balls I usually drop when I’m overwhelmed have become relatively rare. That a persistent negative stripe is finally nudging to a better, new space.
The realization of the raw emotion that can flare up when I look too hard at my weaknesses or circumstances, the ones that tell me I’m not enough and this will never end, are dominating me less and less. And I praise God for it. Give credit where it is due. Credit to his word, his strength, his power to transform, even me. Even at my age. Even the most ingrained of my stripes.
Every single day we are invited by the enemy to be less than who God crafted us to be. The enemy will use our friends and family, our past, our present circumstances, our fears of being cast out or made foolish or failing; or the truly scary one—succeeding. All to tell us we can't. That our stripes define us. The darkness in this world works to grab us by the jugular and not let go ‘til we collapse exhausted into our beds, weary and consumed with the what-if’s, surrounded by our fears.
“But take heart,” Jesus reminds us. “I have overcome the world.”
Indeed, he has. I am reminded yet again that the enemy is usually found within, tempting me to believe in my circumstances, which I can see, versus trusting with faith in God, whom I can’t see. I’m grateful for a God who loves me enough to patiently work on and with me, and to never let go of my hand. It is a fight to reach the finish line. A marathon versus a sprint. And every mile along the way is worth it when placed in his capable hands.
FOR FURTHER THOUGHT
Have you ever taken a moment to ask yourself what your true passion is? Or what is the part of your character that you’ve completely given up on ever changing?
This week, consider how to either continue growing within your passion point, or grab your courage and prayerfully consider how you can add that passion into your life. Invite God fully into the messy area of your life that never seems to be different. Find the scriptures that reinforce God’s ability to strengthen you for anything and meditate on them; really let them soak in. Write them down on index cards or on your phone and carry them with you until they are a part of who you are.
One of my favorites: “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts (your emotions) and your minds (your thoughts) in Christ Jesus … I can do everything through him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:4-7, 13 NIV).
PRAYER Thank you for never, ever giving up on me, Papa, especially when I’ve given up on myself. I am continually amazed at how much you continue to stretch and mold me into who you’ve always crafted me to be. May I walk in the strength you alone can give to keep walking towards the passion points you have laid upon my heart. MAY I push past the fears and weaknesses that would entangle me so I can walk in your bright and glorious light. Grant me your wisdom, your discipline, and your unconditional love for others. Even my enemies and those who make it hard to love. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Look for “The Fight Part II” in June.
To learn more about author & motivational speaker Barb Lownsbury or to have her speak at your next event, CLICK HERE.
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