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Lotion on My Toothbrush

This has been a lotion on my toothbrush kind of day so far. I am so distracted by the heavy dose of this world that I’ve been forced to swallow over the past week that I am having trouble focusing on the simplest of tasks. Gossip, slander, anger, brawling, greed, lasciviousness, and malice, those are the wolves at my heels, and I am shaken and weary from the battle.

A few weeks back, I saw a man on television. His house had been hit by a tornado. The outside had been ripped off and scattered over miles. He and his wife had survived only because their bedroom was located beneath the heavy central beam of the house, and I can’t help feeling as if the only reason I survived this week is because I am covered by the strong and constant central beam of Jesus in my life.

The Bible says not to be surprised by the suffering that we will face, and yet I find that I am. I guess I didn’t expect the suffering to be quite so personal. When people do and say things to me because I’m a Christian, referencing God and challenging me verbally, I feel strong. I know my Jesus, and I know my Bible. It’s almost exciting when I get the chance to stand up for my Defender. However, when the attacks have nothing to do with my faith and are intensely personal, I don’t always know how to respond. It is not exciting, and I do not feel strong.

Instead, I feel as if my bricks and shingles have been strewn about, my heart exposed. In those moments, I know I have a choice. I can respond to the world the way the world has responded to my presence, leveling people to their vulnerable core with my sharp tongue, the part of my flesh that I struggle to suppress the most, or I can cling to the central beam of Jesus, whispering prayers to the One who always hears me and forcing myself to weather the storm in a way that honors Him.

Here is what I have learned this week. The world is not impressed by anything that we Christians would choose to bring to show and tell if given the chance. They don’t care that we don’t cuss, get drunk, or see rated R movies, and they don’t care whether or not we attend church regularly. They are unimpressed by our tithing, and don’t care how we choose to educate our children. I’m starting to think that much of what we work so hard to achieve as Christians does little to actually further the kingdom of God. It’s all good and keeps our armor clean, so to speak.  God commands us to be holy, after all, but it is not the battle that the Bible talks about our having to fight.

I think the world is tired of listening to us talk about things that are only important to us. They want to see whether the Jesus that we confess is actually willing and able to sustain us in the ugliness and unpredictability of real life, the kind of mess that they have to deal with every day. So, they do not shield us. Honestly, I think they watch, instead. In a sense, the battle of every day is where the real show and tell of our faith takes place. When we are able, in God’s strength, to bless those who curse us, forgive those who hurt us, and pray for our enemies, we display a power beyond our own, one that humans do not possess in and of themselves. We give the Holy Spirit the opportunity to reveal to on-lookers the God-shaped void in their own hearts, and in so doing, bring glory to the Father.

The Bible tells me to consider it pure joy when I face trials of many kinds.  Well, I guess if those trials bring me closer to my Jesus, the One who loves me most, and bring glory to the Father, then I’ll just rely on God for the strength and grace to keep on fighting, but I’m going to have to start keeping the lotion somewhere else.

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