Judges 1:32 (the message)
Asher went ahead and settled down with the Cannanites since they could not get rid of them.
Today is my birthday, y’all.
Thirty-seven isn’t getting me down exactly, but it seems to settle in around me. Thoughts flash through my mind. What do I know?
Not nearly as much as I thought I did in my twenties. Smile.
The other day I had a really interesting conversation with a friend. We were eating lunch and talking about how right and wrong is black and white. Yet people are all shades of gray. We are more than a sum total of opinions, choices and childhoods.
I believe I know more about grace. I’m learning to trust grace when my performance mindset screams “you are not enough.”
I believe I know more about real love. You make up your mind about it. You don’t fall in and out. That’s bull. You make up your mind to love. Over and over and over.
I believe I know more about being friends with Jesus. Pleasing Him, loving Him, yielding to Him and enjoying Him is easiest and best when it flows from friendship. Talking, listening. Getting real. He’s a good friend.
I believe I know a bit more about facing fear. Doing stuff afraid. Following Jesus into the unknown, the unfamiliar, the unpopular, the scary and even the downright painful.
But if He’s there, it’s the best place to be.
So, as I feel a nudge in my heart towards Judges this morning (Judges?! Where is that book again?!) I’m struck by the verse above.
I know about settling. Putting up with the enemy in my life. And I’ve learned, and continue to learn, about driving him out.
God had given the people of Israel portions of land and we see above how Asher couldn’t drive the enemy out of his promised territory, so he went ahead and settled down with them.
How many times in my thirty-seven years have I settled down with wrong thinking, destructive habits, sin, familial cycles or insecurities because I couldn’t drive them out?
Lots of times.
I feel for Asher but here’s the thing. It’s a fight. Driving the enemy out of our territory, our lives, calls for a fighting spirit. A passionate conviction that God is bigger and better and loves us fiercely–regardless of our hang-ups.
We have to know, be completely convinced, that freedom is our promise.
Not perfection, but freedom.
Freedom to believe our yesterdays do not define our tomorrows.
Freedom to lay hold of real grace…the Jesus kind…the kind heals our soul.
Freedom to change course. Know different…do different…be different.
Freedom to learn more, see more, experience more of God than we have before.
Freedom from words and habits and histories that tear us down.
Freedom from sin.
Aside from crazy grace and amazing love, I think at thirty-seven I’m learning to keep up the fight.
I still feel bound by habits and certain sins. Ways of thinking and responding and defending that are not who I truly want to be.
Although I feel for Asher, I don’t want to go down like that.
My children may very well catalogue my faults when they are grown, but they will also know I was a fighter. They know, even now, that I’m not perfect and often struggle living out what I teach them, but I believe they also see my fighting spirit. In the admission that I’m wrong, the forgiveness I ask from them and God. My refusal to say Well, that’s just the way I am.
I will never reach perfection but the older I get, the less intimidating my imperfection becomes.
Jesus is my friend. God is my Father. Holy Spirit is my comforter and guide.
God asks me to yield to Him and fight the enemy. His power. His strength. His grace.
How do we drive out the enemy? How do we taste a bit more freedom with the passing of years?
We don’t settle in with our sin. We don’t live with a mindset that we already know everything about God and life and have nothing new to learn.
We all get down, tired, discouraged. We all get ourselves into big messes and chaotic rhythms. We listen to the taunts and whispers of an enemy who understands how susceptible we are to his lies about our worth. We fall. We bloody our hands and knees. We taste shame and regret.
And then we get back up. We limp over to the cross and let the blood of Heaven’s Darling cleanse our heart. We humbly, yet confidently, approach the Throne of Grace and accept our new identity.
We realize life is not about performance, perfection and arrival.
It’s about His grace and a fighting spirit along the way.