It was the perfect sermon at the perfect time. Yesterday morning, Father’s Day, and Maisy’s Dedication at Revision Church. We filled up a row from end to end – two Great-Grands, four Grands, and an uncle and aunt from Kiana’s side. Afterwards, clustering outside the elementary-school church for family photos, one of the Grandpas went ahead and said it. Our baby was the cutest one up there. Not one bit biased. Of course. And yet. Our little princess waved at the crowd from Daddy’s arms the entire time, and who could deny such an obvious fact?
From the Cat in the Hat to the Big Hearted Moose, Here’s What I Learned from Dr. Seuss. It’s the name of this month’s sermon series there at Revision, and I’d just been saying to Maisy before church that morning, the two of us reading books on her playroom rug. “You need more Seuss.” Those sing-song rhythms have the baby girl bouncing to the beat from the very first page of the ABC’s – Big D. Little d. David Donald Doo dreamed a dozen doughnuts and a duck- dog, too. And I swear I am not making this up, just as soon as I read it, that genius-baby emphatically added her own “DADDY!” to Seuss’ list of D’s!
And then, not two hours later, it’s Pastor Mike starting his sermon:
I learned there are troubles
Of more than one kind,
Some come from ahead
And some come from behind.
But I’ve bought a big bat.
I’m all ready, you see.
Now my troubles are going
To have troubles with me!*
And it was the perfect sermon at the perfect time.
Three weeks exactly. Three weeks since the weekend of Jimmy’s grad party, and I remember, because I’d made a comment. Something about how stress-free I’d felt through all the whirlwind of house-selling and graduation and I didn’t know how, but I was doing great. And then, the next day, or next week for sure, just when I should have been breathing the biggest sigh of relief – it hit. The stress. And fatigue. Mental exhaustion, and okay, maybe physical, too. But it was something more, and I knew it.
I knew it last week, going out for my run, a podcast titled You’re Not the Boss of Me, and it’s Andy Stanley talking about how emotions can get the best of us. And just before tying on my ASICS I’d been praying with Kyle, confessing my stress, and a whole host of toxic thoughts taking up residence in my brain. “You’re believing bull–.” My husband’s good counsel just before we prayed.
And he was right, of course. I knew it then. Knew it even truer after the Trouble in Solla Sollew and Pastor Mike’s sermon out of Ephesians 6. He compared satan’s tactics to warfare by deception, using a scholarly term, which I didn’t write down. Not having picked up sermon notes on my way to save seats for our row of family, forced to write with pen in the margins of my own Bible, where it will stay forever next to the Armor of God. “The enemy’s entire strategy is lies.”
We don’t fight FOR victory; we fight FROM victory. Driving home later after dropping off a load of furniture for Nils in Cedar Falls, my Mom asks in a text – what was that quote?
That quote about victory, and how the enemy lost a long time ago, when Jesus climbed a hill with His own big bat, and now the best satan can do is deceive us.
(Taking my cues from Charles Martin, who refuses to even give the creep a capital letter.)
And I hate to admit it, but I’ve been believing those lies.
Three weeks. Three weeks with a house sold and graduation finished, and the next thing on the agenda is a Writer’s Conference, and that’s when it started. You. Can’t. Do. This. Bone-weary, and is it possible for exhaustion be a bold-faced-lie?
It’s toward the end of Mike’s message, and he circles back to verse 10, and I’m flipping pages to find the place, making my notes. Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power…
BE STRONG. I’m rewinding the past couple of weeks, and all the ways I’ve been lacking strength. And then Pastor Mike says the very thing I’ve needed, and on Spirit’s impulse I’m hand to chest, audible gasp.
“Be strong – is passive.”
Be strong IN THE LORD and in HIS MIGHTY POWER.
This strength is HIS.
the enemy can only tell lies.
But my strength is found in HIS VICTORY WON.
And those troubles are going to have trouble with me…
*I Had Trouble in Getting to Solla Sollew by Dr. Seuss