A far cry from how they looked a couple of years ago. Bagworms had invaded one of our bushes and left a hole where green was supposed to be. It seemed like every day that summer I was finding new cocoons, trying to pull all of them off before permanent damage could be done. I discovered in my perusal of the internet that one of the best remedies to apply was soapy water. Each pinching session ended with a good spray-down of water and dish detergent. Persistence paid off; eventually they were gone.
And then the other day I noticed it. One isolated cocoon growing on our otherwise beautiful bush. I began a careful perusal of the whole thing. Sure enough, back where no one could see, there was a whole nest of them, camouflaged in the very foliage they are destroying. Let's just say I set to work once more!
The last infestation we had was more in your face. The attack was right out front, hard to miss. This one was hidden, tucked away behind the lush beauty of outward health. It snuck up on us. Both times speak to me of the spiritual battle we fight everyday.
Two years ago I was learning to let go of a ministry God had miraculously placed in my lap, and just as suddenly led me away from. In the grief and pain of learning to let go, the temptation to retreat into bitterness and despair was real. In my face real. Each day I had to choose God. Sometimes it was about each minute: what am I going to do in this minute? Am I going to trust Him or not?
In some ways, temptation in the hard times is easier to recognize. It is expected, easy to spot. And in that sense, easier to fight. Yet in this season of my life, it is subtle, more hidden. Harder to place and name.
What name does temptation go by when the biggest prayers of your heart have been answered?
I have been praying for God to do something amazing in my husband's life for years, to give him his heart's desire, to open a door for him where he could use his gifts, where he could experience joy and fulfillment. And God has answered those prayers in amazing ways. After years and years of praying God has been faithful, and answered in a way only He could.
I am deeply grateful. And so blessed that I got to participate in the unfolding wonder of God's work in Tim's life. I got a front row seat to the miracle and was allowed by God's goodness to pray it through from beginning to end with every part of me.
In the lushness of this summer of answered prayer it is easy to lose sight of the rhythm of Grace. Routines are topsy-turvy. I am surrounded by little boys so much of the time. When I am not, I have a hard time getting myself to the quiet place. It is much more of a challenge to hear the Divine Whisper. It would be so easy to glide through on the beauty of what God is doing in my husband's life and think that is enough. I forget I still need God more than I need His long awaited answers to my prayers.
And this is the heart of the temptation I face now, when everything is looking up and our hopes are being realized. The enemy would have me be complacent. The enemy would sneak in and suck the life right out of me, wrapped in the very goodness of this new life God has given. The truth is that the unsettledness within me is a gift. The nagging feeling that I'm missing something is the beacon that gets me looking for God's Hand and Heart. It points me to my true home. Because my true home has more to do with the Word my Shepherd speaks to my heart each day than it does with the Word that has already been fulfilled.
Just like I discovered the first time I faced this enemy, I have to be washed in the Word each day. Once isn't enough. Even in good times God's Holy Word in my life is like breath in my lungs. Without it, even when the sun is shining and all the birds are singing, something in me dies. I can't stand to be dead! I want to be alive with every fiber of my being!
Because there is something in me that believes God isn't finished with me yet. Even though we have had an amazing journey, something in me insists that it is far from over. But I will never recognize the new road if I fail to listen to the new Word God is saying to me.
And I feel like traveling on.
To see where this journey began, you may enjoy reading "Washed with the Word," from July 9, 2011.