Just recently, I foolishly believed a pack of lies. Oh, I can’t tell you how hurt and disappointed I was, aware that I had deceived myself. I knew my motives were not pure and that I had drowned out the voice of truth, but God in his mercy spoke life to me through a bee and some lavender.
In my laundry room one morning, I saw a dead bee in a spider’s web next to my fake lavender plant. I felt the Holy Spirit alerting me to take notice that the bee had been enticed inside and deceived into believing the plant was real!
See how deception works? We can be lured away from the right path by what looks like lavender, may smell like lavender, but isn’t lavender. Getting too close in the first place led to the demise of the deluded bumble bee.
It’s that simple. Deception is that simple friends. A momentary lapse in wisdom, listening to the Devil’s lies and skating on the thin ice of the pond once too often, can place us in dangerous situations, tangled up in a web of deception.
Samson, who’s story we read about in Judges 13-16 was enticed and deceived. As a consecrated Nazirite with a call on his life; he was not to shave his hair, drink wine or touch a dead body. In Judges 14:5 we learn he is near a VINEYARD seeking a wife, when he is set upon by a Lion (he kills it with his bare hands). We read further along in this same chapter that he is in the same area preparing to marry this woman. He notices bees swarming inside the carcass of the DEAD LION; then he scoops honey from it. Enter Delilah who he fell in love with in Judges 16. She enticed him to share the secret of his strength – his hair – which lead to the SHAVING OF HIS HEAD and the loss of his strength. Samson had a weakness for women, he flirted with sin and was more than once where he shouldn’t be. Like the bumble bee in my laundry, it ultimately led to his demise.
The Devil doesn’t sit around idly; he reviews our weaknesses, looks for the holes in our character and is busy making deception appear as attractive and appealing as possible. He tries to convince us that our broken areas are who we are and will always be. He uses any means possible - our personal relationships, our friendships, our ministry – everything in order to deceive us with his lies. God's heart is to lovingly lead us in to freedom with the Truth.
Lisa Bevere said:
“There were many times when truth spoke to me, but I did not listen. Often it called to me, but I did not hear it. I was too busy listening to lies. Unfortunately, if you listen to lies long enough, when truth speaks you cannot hear or bear it.”
Hands up to this. I have listened to lies and deceived myself, as we can all do. I can honestly say the struggle has been tougher as I’ve drawn closer to God and his call on my life. My heart’s selfish motives have at times shouted louder than wisdom and obedience.
After beating myself up a fair bit and feeling like a prize idiot, God revealed to me that he is training me through this school of hard knocks. He is teaching me to recognise exactly who my enemy is and what his strategies are through experience. Why? So that I will know the truth and who my God is. Secondly so that I will rise up and fight, wielding my sword (the Word of Truth) exposing the lies and planned deceptions of the enemy. Not just for myself, but for others,
The enemy is prowling around like a lion looking for someone to devour, remember? What lies has he been inviting you to entertain? If he can make you doubt your identity in God and your call, he will do just that.
That poor bee had doubtless been buzzing happily from flower to flower without a care in the world, confident in his natural ability to track down pollen. Yet he was lured inside by a fake plant, deceived by what was not real.
That is what the enemy wants for you. He wants to take you off course and out of the game, tempting you with what looks attractive, but isn’t real. Beat yourself up no longer, but be alert to the enemy’s plans and don't be like Samson, overly confident in your natural strengths and abilities. Lean in, be honest, desire Truth, read the Word and listen to the Holy Spirit in order to recognise the lies and deception. Don’t be robbed of your identity in Christ.
God has a purpose and a plan for your life – and it’s not just for your life, He will use you in the lives of others! Allow His truth to be the loudest voice in your life.
We sat together on the couch, her head buried into my shoulder as she wept for the things, the people that she was missing. And my heart ached for my daughter as she tried to figure out how to navigate her current season.
Change is hard. Being brave and willing to give new things a go and walk down yet unknown paths can be overwhelming.
As winter has given way to spring in our part of the world, something deep within us rejoices and celebrates the signs of new life. We have ached for something to come and replace the barreness. But new beginnings aren't always looked for or even necessarily wanted; they aren't solely the territory of the dead and barren places. Sometimes, God asks us to allow Him to prune the fruitful things - the things that are in full bloom - in our lives so that we can be even more fruitful (John 15:2).
Over the last two years, God has been bringing restoration and life to areas in my heart and story that I have longed for Him to, but He's simultaneously been asking me to let Him bring about new beginnings - to be pruned - in places where I wasn't looking for change.
He has asked me to resign my position and my ministry credentials
He has called us out of the Church we helped plant to start over after some 18 years of community
He has led us to homeschool when I never even wanted to be a stay at home mum (He sure has a sense of humour!)
And each of these changes has asked a question of me - do I really trust Him in the place of exchange? In the place where I don't yet know what my hands will hold and all I can see is what I'm letting go of?
Pruning seasons can be a unique type of change because we don't always know exactly what it is that God is making room for in our lives. We often only see the gaping whole left that was once fruitful and flourishing. Pruning inevitably ushers us into an in-between time - a time of uncertainty and waiting - just like in the natural, it takes time for the new growth to become visible.
In my own life, the place of exchange has tested whether I really believe that He is who He says He is. Whether I trust His heart towards me and the plans that He has for me. The place of exchange has revealed whether the Scriptures I quote are merely platitudes and bumper stickers or the foundation of truth that I've built my life upon because the place of exchange requires us to live with a deep assurance of His goodness and His love for us.
Jesus makes the Father's heart in pruning us abundantly clear - it is not to diminish us in any way but to increase us. To make us more fruitful. Pruning is not about judgment but preparation. And while it can be easy to entertain the voice of condemnation when we feel like we're being cut back, Jesus offers us this assurance:
You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
Jesus is telling us, You are mine, I have washed you. Don't let the enemy tell you that you don't belong, that you're not valuable because you're being stripped back. Don't isolate yourself from Me; don't try and make things happen in your own strength, Trust that my heart is to cause you to flourish and be fruitful. Come, tarry a moment with Me. Apart from Me you can do nothing, but with Me, you can trust that greater fruitfulness is coming.
The word for 'remain' or 'abide' meant to remain, abide; to sojourn or tarry; to continue to be present; to be held, kept continually. It paints a picture for us of lingering in and savouring the presence of God with us. For me personally, I've found this 'abiding' to be both the challenge and the invitation of the place of exchange. My grief, my disappointment, my frustrations and impatience, the uncertainty can either build a wall between me and God or they can become a bridge to greater dependency, greater trust in His wisdom and goodness and in His time, greater fruitfulness.
If I want them to be a bridge, I must settle the question of trust. Will I trust His heart to lead me and yes, even to prune me?
I've decided yes. What about you?
One of my favourite pass-times as a kid was writing. I used to make my own books and write poetry on our old type-writer. Thankfully both my writing and technology have come a long way!
It is my prayer that these posts from both myself and guest contributors encourage you to embrace the season that you are in and to live it with purpose for God's glory.
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