identifying the enemy

I always assume my enemy will be readily recognizable. If he is, I can be prepared to defend myself or to run away to safety, whichever seems the best course of action at the time. But if I don’t recognize my enemy, I am in danger and don’t even know that I am vulnerable and unprotected until it is too late. Kind of like the proverbial wolf in sheep’s clothing. Why was the wolf in sheep’s clothing? Because he was the enemy of the sheep. He was pretending to be one of them so that he could be among the sheep unnoticed until he could get close enough to make his move and carry out his mission. The wolf’s mission was to kill and destroy. To the wolf, the sheep are his next meal. The wolf is not looking to make friends when he joins the flock. He only wants to fill his belly at the expense of the sheep. But by the time the sheep figure out that the wolf is an impostor, it is too late to make an escape. The wolf is not fighting fair when he uses a disguise to allow him to get close to his prey. But then evil never does fight fair.

The wolf should be more like the Redcoats. Remember them? The British military during the Revolutionary War were called Redcoats because of their uniforms, part of which was a bright red jacket. I have to say, I like that – an enemy who stands out and clearly identifies himself. The patriots knew who they were fighting against. They knew without a doubt who their enemy was and they could recognize their enemy by the color of his uniform. This is not always the case. In the early 1900’s, camouflage came into use for uniforms and tanks and such. The idea was to blend in, not to stand out. The intent of the enemy is to hide or to appear to be something or someone other than who they really are – which is the enemy coming to cause harm. I want to know who my enemy is. I want my enemy to have the decency to clearly identify himself, perhaps by making a bold fashion statement like the Redcoats did. 1 Peter 5:8 tells me something about my enemy,

“Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”

So now I know who my enemy is (the devil) and what his intent is. (to devour me) And I know something about him, he is like a roaring lion. Which means he is dangerous and desires to harm me. Unfortunately, my enemy has taken a page out of the wolf’s playbook. He pretends to be something other than he actually is. 2 Corinthians 11:14-15 tells me,

” . . . for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.”

So unlike the Redcoats, my enemy does not identify himself but disguises himself as the opposite of what he really is. (I say opposite because the devil is actually the prince of darkness and he is imitating who he seeks to destroy, Jesus, who is the light of the world) It is difficult to fight against an enemy I cannot recognize because he is pretending to be other than he actually is. If I can’t tell who is my friend and who is my foe, I will make the mistake of treating my friends as foes and my foes as friends.

This issue becomes more complicated still, because I am told to love and to pray for my enemies. I have to say, this defies all logic and every natural inclination I have. Nevertheless, there it is in Matthew 5:44-45, Jesus’s clear instruction to me,

“But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.”

This seems an impossible task but there is something else I need to know – the true identity of my enemy. Who is my enemy? Who is the enemy of my soul? Are they one and the same? I find this revealed in Ephesians 6:12 which tells me,

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”

I also find this good advice in Matthew 10:28 –

“Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”

So although I have flesh and blood enemies, my struggle is really against evil. My enemy is the evil one and the evil that runs rampant through this world destroying everything in its path. Evil uses flesh and blood human beings to accomplish its purposes, but we don’t have to cooperate. We each have a choice. I have a choice. The opponents of evil – love, goodness, truth, faith, freedom, hope, kindness, courage, selflessness, are not to be found in places where evil has prevailed, stamping out all attributes which oppose it – attributes which cannot long survive in evil’s presence. Interestingly enough, these very attributes are the weapons with which I am to fight evil. Ephesians 6:14-18 lists these weapons with which I am to fight evil, saying,

“Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.”

Truth, righteousness, a gospel of peace, a shield of faith, a message of salvation (which is hope) and a sword of truth (which is God’s word) – these are my weapons – weapons with which I am able to fight against my enemy. Unlikely weapons? maybe, but powerful, nonetheless. The last weapon mentioned in Ephesians 6 is perhaps the most powerful of all – prayer. In these current days, I feel and see the enemy’s influence everywhere I look – the influence of evil. In my own community and in the events unfolding around the world, I am witnessing my enemy at work in acts of evil being carried out right before my eyes every day. The suffering of so many people, which is the result of our enemy, evil, running unchecked, is unbearably painful and heartbreaking for all who are the enemy’s victims.

This enemy is so dangerous to us all, precisely because he masquerades as something or someone else – something harmless or someone who has our best interests at heart. We find out too late that it was all a lie or that they were not who they said they were. That’s why truth is such a necessary weapon if the enemy is to be exposed and defeated. Our enemy will conquer and enslave us. The Truth will set us free. On a day like today, when evil seems to have the upper hand, I recall these words from a favorite hymn, “that though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the Ruler yet. This is my Father’s world.”

We have been given the weapons with which to fight our enemy. (truth, faith, prayer etc.) We just have to correctly identify our enemy. And that seems to be a problem today. Our enemy is so well disguised that we don’t recognize him for the danger that he is to us. We have welcomed our enemy into our midst. Or is it that we simply refuse to recognize our enemy and call him out for who he really is? People in the past have done the same thing with disastrous results. (that’s how the Holocaust happened) Isaiah understood the importance of correctly identifying our enemy. The people in his day had the very same problem. Isaiah had this to say to them,

“Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.” (Isaiah 5:20)

I have to correctly identify my enemy. I can’t fight the wolf as long as I believe him to be a sheep. So I don’t fight against him. In fact, I even welcome him in and then I am surprised when I am devoured by the very thing I failed to recognize as evil, failed to recognize as my enemy. Evil does not wear a red coat. Evil does not announce itself. Evil wears a mask to hide its true identity. Still I can put on the full armor of God so that I can take my stand against the devil’s schemes, as Ephesians 6:11 tells me to do. I can identify my enemy but I do not need to be afraid. David said as much in Psalm 27 –

“The Lord is my light and my salvation – whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life – of whom shall I be afraid? When evil men advance against me to devour my flesh, when my enemies and my foes attack me, they will stumble and fall. Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then will I be confident. . . . For in the day of trouble He will keep me safe in His dwelling; He will hide me in the shelter of His tabernacle and set me high upon a rock.” (Psalm 27:1-5)

sincerely, Grace Day


“Jesus replied, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ ” (Matthew 22:37) Deuteronomy 6:5 adds the words “and with all your strength” to this command. In Matthew 6:33 I am told,

“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

What does this look like? – this putting God first before anything that would take my attention and my affection, filling up my day, leaving no room for God.

“I am the Lord your God, . . . You shall have no other gods before (besides) Me.” (Deuteronomy 5:6-7)

Perhaps it looks like making God my first thought in the morning, rather than an afterthought at the end of my day.

“When I awake, I am still with You.” (Psalm 139:18)

It looks like making God my first choice, not my last resort.

“Better is one day in Your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked.” (Psalm 84:10)

It looks like running to God for forgiveness rather than hiding from Him in shame.

“Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as He was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden.” (Genesis 3:8)

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)

David knew what making God a priority looked like, he described it in these words,

“As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?” (Psalm 42:1-2)

Today there is no shortage of things which would attract me or distract me away from what or more accurately, who, I have purposed to make my priority. Today I will pray this prayer of David’s as my own – you can make it yours, too, dear readers –

“Teach me Your way, O Lord, and I will walk in Your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear Your name. I will praise You, O Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify Your name forever. For great is Your love toward me; You have delivered me from the depths of the grave.” (Psalm 86:11-13)

let knowing God be my only priority today and everyday, “Whom have I in heaven but You? And earth has nothing I desire besides You.” (Psalm 73:25)

sincerely, Grace Day

equity for all

sounds good, doesn’t it? after all, equity is one of the big three – diversity, equity and inclusion. Equity is important we are told and different from equality. A definition of this difference reads in part, “Equality means each individual or group of people is given the same resources or opportunities. Equity recognizes that each person has different circumstances and allocates the exact resources and opportunities needed to reach an equal outcome.”

So that’s the end goal – outcomes must be equal. But did I understand that right? In order to achieve this equal outcome, unequal amounts of resources and opportunities must be given to various people in order to ensure that the end result is everyone having the same amount of things and the same level of success. How ironic! We are treating people unequally in the name of equity. Equity reminds me of high school and group projects. Remember those? Teachers would split the class into smaller groups and assign a project with a presentation. The grade would be a group grade – the same for every member of the group and everyone knew this. If you had an aspiring valedictorian in your group, you had hit the jackpot. No way was this individual going to let anyone bring down his or her GPA – even if they had to do all the work themselves.

What usually happened was that two or three students would do all the work but everyone in the group would get the same grade, whether bad or good. Some students might be assigned the task of bringing poster board for the visual presentation part of the group project, but even this was risky because they often didn’t attend the group meetings and might forget to bring the poster board when it was needed. While a few group members did the reading and the research and the writing and the preparing, the other group members could rest secure in the knowledge that equity would prevail and they would reap a reward equal to that of every other group member even if they did nothing or did very little.

Today I hear about equity all the time, equity in school, equity in the workplace, equity in life in general. The celebrities and newscasters and politicians and athletes – all kinds of well known people are all for equity. And I must say, I am glad to hear this. I can hardly wait till they make equity a reality. (they seem so passionate about it, I’m sure they will start practicing equity soon) After all, they say no one should be better off than anyone else. Equal outcomes is the thing. No one should be made to feel bad or to feel less than, right?

I know I am eagerly anticipating a major upgrade in my situation when equity for all kicks in. I am especially looking forward to the time when Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos and others like them start sharing their wealth with the rest of us. Talk about your unequal outcomes – they have definitely got a lot to do in order to set things right. I’m assuming movie stars and politicians will be opening their multiple homes and estates to the homeless to level the playing field. I’m definitely certain that BLM leadership, who are all about equity, (so much so that they burned down and looted other people’s places of business and neighborhoods) will definitely be divesting themselves of all the properties they bought after corporations gave them huge sums of money in order to protect themselves from BLM violence and destruction. They now need to give their homes to the homeless. After all, that’s equity.

Let’s follow equal outcomes to their logical conclusion, shall we? I’m surprised so many pro athletes are pro equity. After all, with equal outcomes, there are no winners and losers. So how does this work in sports? No one wins a game? No winning season or losing season? No Superbowl, World Series or Final Four? Only two teams can go to the Superbowl. Is that really fair or equitable to all the other teams who don’t get to play in the Superbowl? And what about salaries? Why should the quarterback get paid more than his teammates? Shouldn’t all members of all the football teams get paid the exact same salary? That’s equity. It shouldn’t matter what position you play or how much experience you have, or if you are a starter or on the bench. Like the group project in high school, it’s not what you contribute that matters. The outcome must be equitable for all. To this end, the star of the movie shouldn’t get paid more than all the other cast members. They should all receive equal compensation. (I’m sure the lead role wouldn’t mind taking a big pay cut to accomplish the worthy end goal of equity)

This must be why the state of Oregon just changed their requirements for graduation from high school. An individual no longer needs to pass standardized tests to show proficiency in math and other subjects in order to receive a high school diploma. Everyone can receive this outcome of a high school diploma, regardless of whether they are able to meet minimum competency standards or not. Equity demands equal outcomes, disregarding a widely unequal range of individual abilities. I guess there will be no more “graduating with honors” from high school or college, no more valedictorians and salutatorians? That would imply an unequal outcome.

Does equity mean no more promotions in the workplace? Promotions would mean that unequal outcomes are taking place. To this end, we must stop rewarding hard work and excellence in any field of endeavor, including athletics. If equity is the rule, there is no Olympics. Or just like our four year olds in soccer, everyone gets a gold medal or everyone gets a participation medal. I guess it doesn’t matter as long as it’s all the same, all equal. (no one’s feelings should be hurt even if they can’t run or swim as fast as the other guy)

I’m sure people like the ladies on The View will lead the way in sharing their many properties and possessions with all of us who have less than they do, now that they realize they should not have more than others have, because that would be a disparate or unequal outcome and that is not the equity which we are now told is the goal of our society – equity for all. It’s like the group project in high school, even those who produce no goods or provide no services will share equally in whatever there is to be distributed. I kind of like the idea of the pro football player and the McDonald’s worker living the same lifestyle because they are paid equally for what they do. And I’m sure all of the “woke” and vocal pro athletes agree with me and will be renouncing their huge salaries in the name of equity any day now.

Equity for all – it sounds so good, so right. but . . . “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.” (Proverbs 14:12)

There’s an interesting story in Matthew 25 that starts out like this, ” . . . a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his property to them. To one he gave five talents of money, to another two talents, and to another one talent, each according to his ability.”

Well, that certainly does not seem very equitable to me at all. But a reason is given. Each one had different abilities, which their master recognized, and this determined what they were given. The story continues when the man returns and finds the man with five talents has earned five more, the one with two talents has gained two more but the one who had received the single talent has done nothing with it. This upset his master who said,

“You wicked, lazy servant! . . . You should have put the money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest. Take the talent from him and give it to the one who has the ten talents. For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him.”

So not a lot of equity going on here in this story – but maybe a more realistic view of our situation. We are all created with different abilities. I sure didn’t get the brilliant mind for math that God gave Katherine Johnson, not many of us did. And I didn’t inherit any athletic abilities that would get me to the Olympics in any sport. But some people do possess those abilities, so why shouldn’t they use and develop those God given abilities to their fullest potential? We will not have equal outcomes. They will not have equal outcomes with other athletes. They may be better than some but not as good as others. That’s why we used to love sports, for the simple thrill of competition. But there are not equal outcomes in competition. Competition by definition is equal opportunity to compete (equality) but not equal outcomes (equity). In fact, I’m thinking equity would do away with the entire gambling industry. Why? Well, we could give everyone the exact same amount of money to start with and then turn them loose in Vegas to gamble. But everyone is going to have a different outcome depending on which games they play, how much they bet and if they are lucky or unlucky. Equal outcomes do not happen in casinos. Some make money, some lose money. There are winners and there are losers. This does not sound like equity to me. Luke 12:48 says,

“to whom much is given, much is required.” Our outcomes will be different because we are all uniquely created and given varying amounts of talents like those in the story in Matthew. We are created for God’s many different and good purposes – purposes that look different from each other, but all have the same end goal, to bring glory to God. All creation praises their Creator – each in their own way – from the bullfrog to the nightingale – very different sounds, but both music to God’s ears nonetheless. We too, praise and serve God, each in our own way. As the body of Christ we each have different parts to play within the body. Hopefully, I will take what God has entrusted to me and I will use it well. I will not demand an outcome equal with someone who has been entrusted with more or with less. Mine is to be faithful with what He has given me, not to spend my time desiring what He has given to others, because in the end, I want to hear these words,

“Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!” (Matthew 25:21)

sincerely, Grace Day

hope deferred

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” (Proverbs 13:12)

Solomon got it right when he wrote those words so long ago. They are still true today. It is comforting to know that someone else has felt what I feel so keenly – the pain of disappointments when what I hope for doesn’t happen. Then what do I do? Give up or keep on hoping and waiting? It occurs to me that what the “waiting” looks like in my life might be important. Is it an idle waiting with no action on my part? Or is it something that looks quite different? There’s a story in Luke chapter eleven about a man who goes knocking on his neighbor’s door at midnight, requesting bread to feed his late arriving visitors from out of town because this man is out of food and has nothing to feed them. The neighbor, already in bed, doesn’t want to be bothered at such a late hour but because of the man’s persistence in asking, the neighbor does get up and give him all that he is requesting. Jesus finishes this story He is telling His disciples with these words,

“So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.”

It would seem action on my part is a prerequisite, if I would see my hopes fulfilled and my prayers answered. First, the action of prayer – to petition God just as the man in the story petitioned his neighbor for some bread. I may need to continue praying without giving up, just as the bread seeking man in the story continued in his asking until he received what he sought. Besides simply asking, I am told to seek and to knock, also actions, but increasing in intensity. I am told, don’t simply ask but seek out for myself what I am hoping for and even then, something more than seeking may be needed. When I find what I am looking for, the door may be closed. I may have to knock and the door might not open immediately. Here’s where persistence comes in handy. I may have to keep on knocking if I really desire what it is that I am seeking. Praying, asking, seeking, knocking – all actions that I need to take repeatedly. These are ongoing actions that are to occupy my time as I wait for whatever it is I am hoping to receive.

So my waiting is actually filled with activity. God promises my persistence will pay off. In Jeremiah 29:12-14 God says,

“Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart. I will be found by you,’ declares the Lord, ‘and will bring you back from captivity.’ ”

I am to call upon Him, to come to Him and to pray to Him. He will listen, He will reveal Himself and He will set me free from all that holds me captive – my sin, my fears, my doubts. This is the promise contained in the words of Jeremiah 29:12-14. A promise to me and a promise to you, too, dear readers. And God is faithful to keep His promises.

“Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; He is the faithful God, keeping His covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love Him and keep His commands.” (Deuteronomy 7:9)

“He remembers His covenant forever, the word He commanded, for a thousand generations, the covenant He made with Abraham, the oath He swore to Isaac.” (Psalm 105:8-9)

God is faithful, but the waiting to see all that I hope for come to pass is hard. Habakkuk understood how hard hope deferred actually is. He wrote these words in Habakkuk 2:3,

“For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay.”

Habakkuk was waiting too. He was waiting to see all that God had promised take place but things weren’t looking good. Habakkuk questioned why God allowed evil to go unpunished for so long. He was growing weary in the waiting. But he had God’s promise to sustain him while his hope was being deferred. This calls to mind these words from Galatians 6:9,

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”

If I don’t give up hope, if I don’t give up praying and asking and seeking and knocking – He has promised that He hears me and He will answer in His perfect timing. Though my hope is deferred, I can say along with David,

“I am still confident of this; I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” (Psalm 27:13-14)

“You turned my wailing into dancing; You removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing to You and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give You thanks forever.” (Psalm 30:11-12)

sincerely, Grace Day

C.C. a fond farewell #230

Actually it’s not fond and it probably isn’t farewell. But I have decided that today is the day. I confess – I want it to be the end. I want to say farewell to COVID and to its reign over every facet of everyday life. I want to say farewell to the fear, to the uncertainty, to the government intrusions into our private everyday lives in the name of COVID, to regulations and restrictions (again courtesy of COVID) and to the loss of our God given freedoms, which were never government’s to take away in the first place.

When I started “Corona Chronicles – True Confessions of a Self-Isolator” in March 2020, I never dreamed I would still be writing them more than a year later. After all, it was only to be two weeks to flatten the curve and then we were told thirty days to defeat the virus. Yet here we are today, still masking and distancing, with attendance limits still imposed on some sporting events and other public gatherings and restaurants and other places of business still struggling to remain open amid ever changing rules and restrictions. Over time, “Corona Chronicles – True Confessions of a Self-Isolator” became “C.C.” and although I continue to confess something true in each post, I dropped those words from the title and began to number the posts as it became apparent this was going to be a longer haul than we were previously promised.

Many times I have wanted to end “Corona Chronicles” but in reality, no end has presented itself to date. It doesn’t make sense, nor does it feel right to end something that is clearly not at an end but is still very much ongoing. We were told to wait for a vaccine. We were told the vaccine would set us free. Now the vaccine is here and is available to all. People have been vaccinated in mass. But it turns out, we are still carriers and transmitters of the virus, even when fully vaccinated. Fully vaccinated people are coming down with COVID and with its variants, (my son included) They must quarantine and test because these individuals can spread COVID to those around them. Because of this, we are told to continue masking and social distancing whether vaccinated or unvaccinated – because both groups are carriers and transmitters of the virus. The only difference is that for the vaccinated, their cases of illness will hopefully be milder than they otherwise would have been. And now there is talk of the “booster” shot for the fully vaccinated. It is interesting that Israel has one of the highest vaccination rates of any country, but is having a big resurgence of COVID cases despite such a large percentage of people being fully vaccinated. Judging by the effect COVID continues to have on our daily lives, we are not yet at an end point.

This highlights for us an important distinction when deciding where exactly is the finish line? (it has been moved so many times) This virus will always be with us. Viruses mutate over time but they remain a presence going forward. However, the position this particular virus holds, the power it has been given, the part this virus plays in dictating decisions in our daily lives, must at some point come to an end. The medical community has a long history of dealing with diseases and has protocols in place which have guided them in collecting data and developing treatments for different diseases, as the need presents itself. Why they have abandoned their protocols and procedures in regards to this virus but not for other diseases, is a question worth asking. The answer could certainly help us to find our way out of this mess, a mess created more by our government’s response to this virus than by the virus itself.

We had plenty of heartache and hardship to deal with in our lives before COVID ever made its appearance. We were no strangers to disease and death before COVID came, either. Generations before us have dealt with smallpox and polio and diphtheria, the Dust Bowl, the Great Depression and so much more. Every era has had its challenges to overcome. This time in history is no different. We will find solutions to our challenges or perish. History has shown that human beings are resilient, courageous and capable of meeting challenges that come their way. The question is, will we meet these challenges in a constructive, creative, productive way that preserves human freedom and dignity or will we allow fear to dictate our “solutions” – “solutions” which themselves become problems more deadly than the disease itself?

Time will tell – she always does. In the meantime, “This is the day the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118:24) I have decided to live today and everyday God gives me, remembering that I am walking in a world controlled not by COVID or any other current calamity, but by a sovereign, almighty, Creator God. COVID does not determine the direction of my steps nor the purposes to which God has called me. It is my Heavenly Father who decrees the end from the beginning and everything in between. This is not COVID’s world – this is my Father’s world! Remembering that truth makes all the difference to me, today and everyday.

So today, Corona Chronicles will come to an end. Molehills, mountains, mercies, miracles and mustard seeds amid the mundane will continue as before – celebrating God’s abiding presence with me and with you, dear readers, in our daily lives which are actually anything but mundane. Eternity present in each moment, we are called to live lives of meaning and purpose for the God who created us, who rescues us, redeems us and calls us daily to walk with Him. COVID is not in control – God is! I want to live like I believe this truth – a truth God had to remind Job of once, long ago when He asked these questions of Job,

“Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand. Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it? On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone – while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy? Who shut up the sea behind doors when it burst forth from the womb, when I made the clouds its garment and wrapped it in thick darkness, when I fixed limits for it and set its doors and bars in place, when I said, ‘This far you may come and no farther; here is where your proud waves halt’? Have you ever given orders to the morning, or shown the dawn its place, that it might take the earth by the edges and shake the wicked out of it? . . . Have you journeyed to the springs of the sea or walked in the recesses of the deep? Have the gates of death been shown to you? . . . What is the way to the abode of light? And where does darkness reside? Can you take them to their places? Do you know the paths to their dwellings?” (Job 38:4-20)

“I am God, and there is no other; I am God,and there is none like Me. I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say; My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.” (Isaiah 46:9-10)

God’s purposes and plans will stand, not COVID’s, nor anything or anyone else’s. I can take great comfort and hope in this knowledge. So can you.

“For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:17-18)

bidding farewell to COVID’s control (not its reality) as I fix my eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of my faith – (Hebrews 12:2)

“The Lord reigns, let the earth be glad; let the distant shores rejoice. . . . The heavens proclaim His righteousness, and all the peoples see His glory.” (Psalm 97:1 & 6)

sincerely, Grace Day

C.C. peace in a pandemic #229

“Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; He lifts His voice, the earth melts.” (Psalm 46:6)

King David wrote those words some three millennia ago, but they could have been written today. Those words in Psalm forty-six describe global events today as accurately as they described what was happening during David’s reign as king. Every place and every person does seem to be in some kind of an uproar at the present time. Multiple pandemics are present at this particular time in history. There is the medical pandemic of the COVID virus. Then there is the global pandemic of fear accompanied by anxiety and depression born out of our response to the virus. Unfortunately, there is no vaccine for fear and all the side effects fear produces. So our suffering from the virus is compounded by our response to the virus.

At the same time, a pandemic of tyranny is taking place around the globe and here at home. Those fighting for freedom in Hong Kong and Cuba have been silenced as have those speaking out to preserve our freedoms here been silenced as well. Haiti lost its president to assassination and now has suffered an earthquake of large proportions. Afghanistan has fallen and our own city streets are war zones where children lose their lives daily. Truly nations are in an uproar and kingdoms are falling – our own included. I confess – never have I needed these words more than I do now – more than today.

“God is my refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore I will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day.” (Psalm 46:1-5)

All of these things have certainly been happening – the earth giving way, mountains quaking and falling, waters roaring . . . but

” ‘Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet My unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor My covenant of peace be removed,’ says the Lord, who has compassion on you.” (Isaiah 54:10)

The fear and pandemonium created by the pandemics can seem overwhelming – but these circumstances are not stronger than God’s Word. His words are my source of peace amid this pandemic and I have hidden them in my heart for safekeeping.

“I love You, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” (Psalm 18:1-2)

“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27)

“I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

it would seem an impossibility to have peace amid this pandemic – and yet –

“You (God) will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in You. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord, is the Rock eternal.” (Isaiah 26:3-4)

sincerely, Grace Day

C.C. the land of Oz and fallen forest trees #228

If a tree falls in the forest and I am not present to witness the event and no one tells me that it has fallen, did it really fall? Is it laying on the forest floor even now or is it still standing tall? What is real? What is true? Do I “pay no attention to that man behind the curtain” and instead look only at what is set before me to see, pre-approved for my viewing, hearing or reading by, by who? the man behind the curtain pulling all the strings, manipulating all the machinery, to create the illusion that was Oz? – an illusion that can control me – an illusion that controlled Dorothy and her friends until they saw the truth and lost their fear.

There’s a line from the 2003 movie, Legally Blonde 2, which is quite telling. The character, Rep. Rudd, (a congresswoman) says to Elle, the heroine, “the people will care about what we tell them to care about.” That’s chilling, isn’t it? And this movie was eighteen years ago. Has this always been true? – will I believe what I am told to believe – what I am told is true rather than what I actually experience in my daily life, in my daily reality? When the curtain is finally pulled back, revealing “the man behind the curtain” complete with sound effects, smoke and mirrors, Dorothy and her friends finally see and know the truth and are set free. Truth has a way of doing just that.

“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32)

Turns out, the great and powerful Oz was just a little man operating some noisy contraption complete with visual and sound effects, all the while hiding behind a curtain in a lonely room in a heavily guarded palace. Tell me this little tyrant was in touch with the world outside his window – oh, that’s right, the Wizard of Oz lived in a windowless room behind a curtain making lots of noise and issuing edicts for other people to obey – people he didn’t know and would never meet – until Dorothy and her friends demanded an audience and learned the surprising truth of Oz’s real identity. Today we call this phenomenon the “ivory tower” – referring to out of touch people who spend their lives making rules for other people to follow – people they will never meet because ivory tower people don’t live in the world the rest of us inhabit. They have isolated themselves with their money (which came from where?) providing that curtain of separation which they hide behind.

Woe to anyone who dares demand that the curtain be pulled back so that we might see for ourselves just who dwells behind it. That would take courage and perseverance and come at too high a personal cost, who would risk it? Dorothy and her friends, scarecrow, tin man and lion, did and they eventually got the curtain pulled back, resulting in a happy ending for them. But this is real life, not a fairy tale.

So today I am left to wonder, are there trees lying even now on the forest floor? Just because I am not there to see them and no one has told me that they are there – does not mean that they have not fallen. I wonder if the news today has a kind of “if a tree falls in the forest” attitude? If they do not cover/report on an event or a situation, that means (as far as they are concerned) it did not happen or that it is not an existing reality at this present time. Someone, somewhere may have seen the trees fall, but the voice of the great and powerful Oz, silences all other voices. “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain,” we are told. Because if you do, you do so at your own peril.

What to do? I want to search for the truth, but I am told there is no truth. We now live in a “post-truth” world. I am supposed to live my truth. But my truth does not lead me to anything or to anywhere good. Actually, I have to confess – I am not sure if “my truth” is any kind of “truth” at all. I need an objective standard of truth outside of myself. Proverbs 3:5-7 tells me to –

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones.”

Trust in something or someone other than myself? Yes, I can trust my Heavenly Father. He will “lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139:24) He will lead me to the truth because He is the Truth!

“Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.’ ” (John 14:6)

In Psalm 119:160, David tells me that truth is found in God’s word –

“All Your words are true; all Your righteous laws are eternal.”

I also have been given the gift of God’s Holy Spirit to guide me in my search for truth. John 16:13 reassures me of this, when Jesus tells His disciples,

“But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all truth.”

I have a guide on my journey through the land of Oz and the forest of fallen trees – indeed Matthew 10:26-28 tells me,

“So do not be afraid of them. There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs. Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”

Dorothy and her friends were finally able to see behind the curtain that concealed Oz from the world. They were no longer deceived and afraid – they had found the truth! and the truth set them free! The day of truth is coming dear readers, for me and for you.

“Now I see through a glass darkly, but then I shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” (1 Corinthians 13:12)

“And the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all mankind together will see it.” (Isaiah 40:5)

we will not be disappointed on that face to face day, when the curtain falls away and the Truth is revealed –

sincerely, Grace Day

C.C. when reality becomes too real #227

I confess – I like to read fiction. Maybe it’s because I grew up on fables and fairytales, princesses and kings and queens and magic dragons and such. Reality pales in comparison to enchanted kingdoms and heroic narratives. Reality is where I live but as a child it was nice to escape into a different world from time to time through books and imagination. Reality can be harsh and hard at times but sometimes reality becomes a bit too real. I see reality on the TV news every day but when that reality becomes my personal reality, then it has become too real for my fantasy preferring tastes.

Such is the case today. I have learned that my son cannot return home from his honeymoon trip to Mexico because he has tested COVID positive and therefore he is unable to enter his own country. He would be a danger to others.

I find it ironic that I wrote a recent post about our southern border crisis (“questions of the curious”) and now my own son cannot enter his own country at the moment. All because he tested positive for COVID, he cannot come home. Meanwhile one million plus non-citizens, illegal, unknown, undocumented people have entered our country since late in January and more continue to enter our country everyday. These people are not tested, quarantined, nor required to get vaccinated but my son (who is vaccinated and still had to be tested to come home) is required to comply with all these rules and regulations.

The rules and regulations are fine. They are in place to protect us all. But only a few people are being made subject to these rules and regulations, namely U.S. citizens. The vast number of people entering our country are not citizens of the U.S. but of other countries, and they are free to enter our country and to go wherever they wish within our country, with no vaccinations, no passports (vaccine or otherwise) no COVID tests, no quarantine before entering, nothing . . . where is the fairness, where is the equity and justice we are constantly told must be brought into every situation? We as citizens must comply with all these rules to enter into our own country but those who are unknown, unidentified, undocumented, illegal aliens can enter freely without being tested, quarantined, required to show proof of vaccination or to get vaccinated as a condition of being allowed to enter this country.

Not so for my son, who is a tax paying citizen of this country with a passport and a vaccination record and a job and an address – he was tested, he has to quarantine, he might be a danger to others. But the thousands of untested, unknown people that cross our southern border and come into our country illegally every day from places all around the globe, aren’t a COVID danger to others? This makes no sense to me nor to any rational, thinking person, I would guess. Is this what “following the science” looks like? – admitting more than a million non-citizens into our country while simultaneously keeping our own citizens out, stopping them from returning home by denying them entrance into their own country.

They are requiring us to be vaccinated. Why aren’t they requiring those individuals at our southern border to receive the vaccination as a condition of their entrance into the U.S.? My son is ill, but does not have access to his doctor or the medical care he would have were he home. Truth really is stranger than fiction. We are living under mask mandates, vaccine mandates and constant testing requirements – all intended to protect us from the deadly COVID. Meanwhile, at the exact same time, thousands of unmasked, untested, unquarantined, unvaccinated, many COVID positive people pour into our country across our southern border every day – unchallenged, unchecked, unmonitored, unrestricted – much freer than we as U.S. citizens are at the moment. Sometimes reality is just too real. And often it doesn’t make any sense.

That’s why it’s good that my trust is in God and not in man. Man’s solutions to problems fall so far short and usually, like now, make things worse, not better. God always has a better plan, if only I would –

“Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes. Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret – it leads only to evil. For evil men will be cut off, but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land.” (Psalm 37:7-9) Today I am praying these words for my son,

“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.’ Surely He will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday. . . . ‘Because he loves Me,’ says the Lord, ‘I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges My name. He will call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life will I satisfy him and show him My salvation.’ ” (Psalm 91:1-6 &14-16)

my Heavenly Father is with me in this too real circumstance, He is with you in yours, He is with my son in Mexico,

sincerely, Grace Day

C.C. touchstones and testimonies #226

how necessary are touchstones in everyday life, they are markers, particular places and familiar faces that let us know where we are in this world – like the alters Abraham and others would build to commemorate special places where they had encounters with God – touchstones serve to orient me in my daily life and how grateful I am for each and everyone of them. As I sat in church today, surrounded by touchstones, I gave thanks for each one of them. Each stone tells a testimony uniquely their own, all to the glory of God. And I am encouraged and inspired to continue on my own journey each time I have the opportunity to touch base with, to encounter, one of these precious stones.

Miss Felicia, a pillar at 94 years of age despite her very diminutive size, (pillars are typically large in size) is in her place in the pew, (back row, on the aisle) as is Miss Bonnie (down front, opposite side, on the aisle). Daniel is at the door, his post as doorkeeper and greeter. David with the tall mohawk, is serving communion, a comforting and familiar presence – not to be confused with chef David who feeds our bodies (along with Miss Peggy) even as our pastors feed our souls with God’s word. When a melodic “hallelujah!” rings out during the sermon, I know that Micca is in the house this morning. A hug and an “I love you” from my soul sister, Deborah, provide another much needed touchstone for the morning.

Brenda and William are in their place as is Bernard, a faithful presence in the pew each Sunday. (and sometimes in the center aisle when we are singing songs of praise) I confess – there are touchstones I miss this morning. When their customary places in the pew are empty, there is a void that is theirs alone to fill. I am missing Miss Hattie, Miss Angela, Miss Kim and Miss Caroline. Even with pews full of people, the spaces their presence filled remain empty in their absence. Brother Lessie’s place as greeter and seater is waiting for his return as well. We are all parts of the same body, the body of Christ, which is the church. 1 Peter 2:4-5 puts it this way,

“As you come to Him, the living Stone – rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to Him – you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”

We are all living stones! What a word picture! God takes something not alive (a stone/me/you) and brings it/us to life.

“As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. . . . But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved.” (Ephesians 2:1-5)

Living touchstones – each one with a testimony to God’s goodness and grace. Individually and together, God is building us into something beautiful for His purposes. I am home when I am with my touchstones, protected and encouraged to keep growing into all God has purposed that we should be individually and as His body in this world.

The power of a touchstone is in its presence – its presence in the pew and in the world – that visible presence filled with the power of their testimony – a testimony to God’s rescue and redemption of their lives – God’s transformation of each and everyone of us from death to life – touchstones are living testimonies to God. When I see that mohawk in the pew, my heart is lifted by being reminded of the testimony of that particular living stone. Touchstones have powerful testimonies. Their presence among us reassures us that God is able to do all things, even as we behold what He has already done in them. Touchstones are testimonies of hope.

In the book of Joshua we read a story about twelve stones that became touchstones for the nation of Israel. The account of this is found in Joshua chapter four –

“So Joshua called together the twelve men he had appointed from the Israelites, one from each tribe, and said to them, ‘Go over before the ark of the Lord your God into the middle of the Jordan. Each of you is to take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelites, to serve as a sign among you. In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever.’ ” (Joshua 4:4-7)

“And Joshua set up at Gilgal the twelve stones they had taken out of the Jordan. He said to the Israelites, ‘In the future when your descendants ask their fathers, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them, ‘Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground.’ For the Lord your God dried up the Jordan before you until you had crossed over. The Lord your God did to the Jordan just what He had done to the Red Sea when He dried it up before us until we had crossed over. He did this so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the Lord is powerful and so that you might always fear the Lord your God.’ ” (Joshua 4:20-24)

These twelve stones were to be a memorial forever, they were to be a testimony to all the peoples of the earth. Touchstones to God’s goodness and greatness. Joshua 4:9 says,

“Joshua set up the twelve stones that had been in the middle of the Jordan at the spot where the priests who carried the ark of the covenant had stood. And they are there to this day.”

thank You, Heavenly Father, for each and every touchstone complete with testimony along my path, – thank You for placing them there just when You know I need them,

sincerely, Grace Day

C.C. hard conversations #225

we’ve all had them, they are inevitable – these hard conversations that come our way despite our efforts to avoid them at all costs. Life is littered with hard conversations – but they turn out to be not rubbish, but the stepping stones that pave the way we must take to fulfill our purpose. The older brother of the prodigal son should know, he had one of these conversations with his father. It went something like this, well actually it went exactly like this,

“But he (the older brother) answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’ ‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ ” (Luke 15:29-32)

A hard conversation – the older brother felt he wasn’t getting his due. He felt slighted. He resented his younger brother and all the attention his younger brother was receiving upon his return. The older brother was expected to be joyful over the return of his lost sibling but instead he only felt resentment. Apparently, he wasn’t happy with his lot in life, especially when he compared it to that of his brother.

Peter had one of these hard conversations with Jesus, one vaguely similar to the father-son conversation just mentioned. The content of this conversation is as follows,

“Then He (Jesus) said to him, (Peter) ‘Follow Me!’ Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved (John) was following them. . . . When Peter saw him, he asked, ‘Lord, what about him?’ Jesus answered, ‘If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow Me.’ ” (John 21:19-22)

Peter had received his marching orders but he didn’t keep his eyes fixed on Jesus. Instead he looked around to see what others were doing which gave him the opportunity to compare his assignment from Jesus with the assignments his friends and others seemed to have been given. This led to Peter’s discontent, which led him to question his assigned task, which led him to ask the hard question and have the hard conversation. (hard for Peter, not for Jesus) Jesus welcomes our tough questions, – questions like ‘why me and not him or her?’ Jesus stands ready to have the hard conversations with you and with me. He will always tell us the truth even though often the truth is hard to hear.

Now would be a good time to confess – I often catch myself acting like Peter or like the older brother of the prodigal. Instead of rejoicing over all God has given me, I take my eyes off of Him, look around me and ask why I don’t have what those around me have. Maybe their assignment seems easier, more desirable or more glamorous than mine. I want to have what they have or do what they are doing. But Jesus’s direction to me is as clear as it was to Peter all those centuries ago – “You must follow Me.”

“But Lord, I want to do what my friend is doing. It looks like more fun.” and Jesus answers, “you must follow Me.” “But my neighbor’s path doesn’t seem to be as painful as mine, couldn’t I walk that one?” again Jesus answers, “you must follow Me.” “Lord, if you give me what you’ve given them, just watch what I’ll do for You. I want their lot in life, not mine” Jesus’s reply remains the same, “If I’ve given them riches or comfort or ease or less suffering, what is that to you? You, you must follow Me.”

This is a hard conversation to have and I have it often, which brings to mind the story of the talents from Matthew chapter twenty-five. In this story a man gives each of his servants talents or money but he doesn’t give them all the same amount. We are told he gave to “each according to his ability.” Doesn’t seem fair that they didn’t all get the same amount but we have to trust the man knew best based on his knowledge of each individual. And all he asked of each one was that they make the most of what he had entrusted to them. He did not compare them to each other. He just asked that each one be faithful with what he had been given.

It occurs to me that if I’m busy asking God for more or asking God for something different, something other than what He has graciously placed in my hands or in my path for me to do, if I am looking at others and not at Him – then I am completely missing what He has already given me, I am missing what is right before me – because I’m focused on what I don’t have instead of on what I do. I am focused on my perceived lack rather than on my very real abundance in Christ.

Isn’t that what happened in the garden? They had it all, lacking nothing – yet still Eve was able to be convinced that she should desire something different, something other than what she already possessed – which was perfection – until she gave that up in pursuit of something she was persuaded she was lacking. It turned out to be a lie. The subsequent conversation Adam and Eve had with God was definitely one of those hard conversations.

Instead of asking God why I didn’t get more talents, I would do well to get busy using the ones I have been given lest I lose them. My direction is clear – I am to follow Jesus without looking around like Peter did, to see what others are doing. This led to one of those hard conversations for Peter, but I am looking forward to a different kind of a conversation someday – one in which I hear Jesus say,

“Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!” (Matthew 25:21) and I will hear Him say,

” ‘Come, you who are blessed by My Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave Me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave Me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited Me in, I needed clothes and you clothed Me, I was sick and you looked after Me, I was in prison and you came to visit Me.’ Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You something to drink? When did we see You a stranger and invite You in, or needing clothes and clothe You? When did we see You sick or in prison and go to visit You?’ The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me.’ ” (Matthew 25:34-40)

after all the hard conversations, that is going to be one wonderful conversation to have . . .

sincerely, Grace Day