James 4:7-10 – Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you. (ESV)
A lot of healing has gone on over the years. Like many of my fellow Christians with a history, I rejoice in not being the person I once was. However, like the Incredible Hulk, I am not likeable when I am angry. Fortunately, my wife is often there to remind me to let it go, to be gracious, or such like, and not to continue being in a bad place or frame of mind. I love my wife, who loves me enough to tell me.
Back in the mid-eighties, I knew a lady in church who could see pictures from God. Once, she told me that she saw a picture of me standing on the dais as a soldier of Christ in armour. Ever since then, I have pictured myself as that soldier, and as need or habit arises, I have prayed on the armour of the kingdom in Ephesians 6:10-17.
Last week, I was taken aback by an experience at church. Yes, in the greater scheme of things, it was a storm in a teacup, but somehow, I found it hard to let the issue go. I believed that I had the luxury of knowing that the issue was totally not of my doing, and it rankled! Knowing that to respond would only make it worse, there was nothing that I could do but suck it up, go home, and lay it at the feet of Jesus, in the hope that the emotion would subside. Eventually, in prayer, I received enough grace and peace of mind to be able to go to sleep.
This morning as I talked with God, I saw this picture of me in armour standing ready for battle. This time, I was swinging an oversized, heavy, double-handed, six-foot, sixteenth-century duelling long-sword. As I swished, I cut my attackers off at the knees before they could get near me, but as I grew tired, one nipped in around my sweeping sword and cut off my hand!
The normal sword that I carry in my mind's-eye picture of Ephesians is a short, double-edged sword, just held in my hand as the Word of God. So being curious, I asked God what the meaning was of this new sword.
The reply that came was that this is the sword of self-righteousness, and those who live by it will die by it. Ouch, ouch, and again, ouch. I had thought that I had let the issue go, but apparently, I had not let go of the pride and smugness of being right. I am still a work in progress.
Later, I prayed with a friend, and I laid the long-sword down, and so, by grace, I have my short sword back again.
Today, examine what you are holding on to. If it seems to be bringing you down, place it at the feet of Jesus, and seek wisdom for the greater good. Maybe, like me, ask a friend to pray with you.
Prayer: Lord, help us to set down the long-sword of self-righteousness and to pick up the sword of the Spirit. By Your grace and redemption, enable us to let go of the toxic thoughts and issues in our lives that harm ourselves and others, to set down the heavy thoughts that are not Your thoughts, and to make peace with You and our neighbour. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.
Listen to this devotional
Listen while you read: "Softly And Tenderly Jesus Is Calling" (Lyrics)