How has your year been shaping up so far? Be honest…I will be. This year has started off rather turbulent. I hopped on the plane so excited, we are 2 hours into the flight and I am grasping my arm rests trying not to allow my emotions to unfold. Last year was tough but there was still more butter than bread. This year I already feel too thin and I am begging for more butter. I took shots to watch them fall short. I placed hopes and visions in things that flipped on me. I stepped forward with good intentions to be met with conflict. I took life light hearted and woke up to a fallen heart. What am I left with? This year was supposed to be better than last year. The release was supposed to be glorious. What I see is that nothing is changing. Nothing is new under the sun. The winds and turbulence persist. How can I maintain trajectory? Peace? How can I keep my eyes up when there is caution ahead?
I recently read 1 Samuel chapter 4.
4 And the word of Samuel came to all Israel.
Now Israel went out to battle against the Philistines. They encamped at Ebenezer, and the Philistines encamped at Aphek. 2 The Philistines drew up in line against Israel, and when the battle spread, Israel was defeated before the Philistines, who killed about four thousand men on the field of battle. 3 And when the people came to the camp, the elders of Israel said, “Why has the Lord defeated us today before the Philistines? Let us bring the ark of the covenant of the Lord here from Shiloh, that it[a] may come among us and save us from the power of our enemies.”4 So the people sent to Shiloh and brought from there the ark of the covenant of the Lord of hosts, who is enthroned on the cherubim. And the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were there with the ark of the covenant of God.
5 As soon as the ark of the covenant of the Lord came into the camp, all Israel gave a mighty shout, so that the earth resounded. 6 And when the Philistines heard the noise of the shouting, they said, “What does this great shouting in the camp of the Hebrews mean?” And when they learned that the ark of the Lord had come to the camp, 7 the Philistines were afraid, for they said, “A god has come into the camp.” And they said, “Woe to us! For nothing like this has happened before. 8 Woe to us! Who can deliver us from the power of these mighty gods? These are the gods who struck the Egyptians with every sort of plague in the wilderness. 9 Take courage, and be men, O Philistines, lest you become slaves to the Hebrews as they have been to you; be men and fight.”
10 So the Philistines fought, and Israel was defeated, and they fled, every man to his home. And there was a very great slaughter, for thirty thousand foot soldiers of Israel fell. 11 And the ark of God was captured, and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, died.
I don’t know where you find yourself in this story but I am sitting around verse 3. I find myself asking “why have I been so defeated already?” I begin to look around and ask what can I fight this with? What can I fill my ark with? So far, I have filled it with people’s condolences and acceptance. Now, just as the ark isn’t a bad thing; people are not a bad thing. These are great things but before I place my need and weight on these I need to recognize where they came from. I look forward in this passage and see that there is yet another defeat. A much bigger defeat if I might add. There is defeat and loss. The ark was a visible reminder that God indeed was with them but was never meant to replace Him. It would be like hugging a letter from a loved one. That letter never meant to replace that loved one but to remind you that they are there for you to hug.
This year has indeed been turbulent and I am holding on. However, I am no longer placing trust in the pilot or even the plane but rather in the One who guides the wind and gives sight to the pilot. I look out of the window and I see the turbulence and the wind but I also see a provider. A provider who can use those heavy winds to instill trust and keep the plane flying.
The war was inevitable for Israel and temporary fixes did frighten the enemy briefly. However, what are you left with when the enemy sees past the material? What are you left with when you notice the letter you are hugging creases and crumbles? Cherish the reminder but let it be just that, a reminder. Let it be a perception shifter. Allow it to help you see and return to the source. Cherish the items you have been given to place in your ark but remember you don’t experience victory waving a box at people. The ark would have just been a box if God hadn’t placed value in it. The reminders within the ark are valuable because they redirect your eyes toward your provider, your commander. You experience victory and peace when you look to your provider/commander. So, I will finish by saying, the war still rages but my Commander is still the invincible One!