Fig Leaves and Skins

It’s been a rough month.

I am a new runner. I had just hit my stride, was picking up pace, and someone stuck their foot out as I passed. No wait, it wasn’t nearly that subtle. Someone actually singled me out on the track, came barreling out of the stands, and tackled me at full speed.

Do you know that awkward feeling when you fall in front of a crowd?

I’ve been down for three weeks now. Trying to regroup and assess damages. I’ve been feeling hurt, embarrassed, and unsure of my footing. Paralyzed! Wondering how in the world to get back into the race. The more I sit here, the angrier I get about it.

I was in a group last week and the topic of fig leaves came up. We did a little exploration into the Genesis story. The first thing Adam and Eve did when they were side-swiped was scramble to find themselves a covering. They recognized a need, grabbed some fig leaves, and tried to cover themselves. Judging from my own recent experience, we have not improved at all. My first instinct at any hint of trouble is to jump into control mode. I feel like I need to take care of it before I present myself, even to the one who knows me better than anyone. Oh, I need a covering? Then let me make that happen!

The problem with that is…a fig leaf won’t help you in the long run. It does provide a temporary shield but, after a while, you get a rash.

A true covering requires a sacrifice, a death. In Genesis, right after He has a chat with Adam, Eve, and the serpent, “The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife, and clothed them.” ~Genesis 3:21

The biggest part of my struggle is knowing what is my job, and what is NOT. It IS my job to recognize needs, ask for His provision, and receive it. It is NOT my job to manipulate my circumstances to create the illusion of His provision. That human instinct in me has to die, if for no other reason than it simply doesn’t work.

In case you’re worried that I am injured physically, my attack was spiritual…it was well-aimed and a nice tackle by the enemy. I was way too easy of a target. It distracted me from the goal ahead longer than it should have. But here’s the deal. Instead of paralyzing me, it pissed me off. Instead of taking me out of the race, it woke me up and has reenergized me! I am actually encouraged – to have been so targeted must mean I am doing something right. I am thankful for the lesson. I am not a quitter. Lord, give us a spirit of perseverance and vigilance!

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
2 Timothy 1:7

Run, walk, limp – do whatever it takes! Just get up. Keep moving forward. Finish the race!!

The River of Your Pleasures

One of my greatest fears (other than French mime clowns on stilts) has been that I will fall for it. You know, I will let emotions swoop in and some dude sweep me off my feet. I will fall in love and get married. I will become distracted with my wifely duties, transfer the love I have for the Lord to this guy, lose my connection with Jesus, and live disappointedly ever after.

Even though I know some great Godly couples, I’ve been seeing it as a choice…that for me it must be one or the other. I have been so deceived! I’m sharing this because if I could be so deceived, there may be someone else falling for the old trick of seeing a future without him in it.

Last week, when I made the conscious decision to ask for and receive a man’s covering in my life, I had no idea what I was setting in motion. This one act of unclinching my iron fist grip on my little world has allowed others to step into their calling. It has opened my eyes and my heart to things that I thought were dead to me. It has unplugged fountains of joy!

When people talk about surrendering to his will for our lives, it sounds so awful…even to me. Why do we assume “his will” is going to be boring, gross, or scary? I know that he is the author of joy, has gone before me, and is by my side. Forever.

“And the Lord, He is the One who goes before you. He will be with you, He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed.”  ~Moses
Deuteronomy 31:8

I know his plans are already prepared, and are good for me.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. I will be found by you,” says the Lord.
Jeremiah 29:11-14

This act of surrendering to his will for my life has not killed my affection for the Lord, forced me to marry a toad or obey a monster, or brought death to anything other than fear itself. All it has done is bring more life, and more joy!

How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God!
Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Your wings.
They are abundantly satisfied with the fullness of Your house,
And You give them drink from the river of Your pleasures.
For with You is the fountain of life;
In Your light we see light.  ~David (sigh)
Psalm 36:7-9

I love that he doesn’t make us sit under his wings, or anywhere else for that matter. Being sheltered there requires an act of trust and surrender. The hardest things in the world, for me anyway. But going there is such a happy place – that is where the fountain of life is.

So today I stand astounded that I’ve been living in fear without even realizing it. Aware that deception is just that, a trick to get you to believe a lie. Amazed that the very thing I thought would put more distance between us is actually gluing us even closer together. As my heart opens to more, I’m falling even more madly in love with him!

It’s got me searching my heart, that’s for sure. What other joys am I blocking out of fear? Lord, show me where I’ve allowed deception to creep in and keep me from going deeper, from surrendering to your will, from drinking from the river of your pleasures. AMEN!

In the Safety Zone

I have been having some dreams! Lots of dreams about walking out of an area of protection, of being unsheltered, of needing a man’s covering.

Now…I don’t even want to tell you the inner turmoil this has caused for me the last couple months! “My man” is simply not here and, honestly, I don’t know that he ever will be. This desperate, urgent need to find him crept in to my peace. I started looking to every event I attended as the potential place where (as I saw in one of my dreams) I would be doing my thing and then see him across the room watching me with intensity, he would lock eyes, and then pursue me as his own. Bam, mine! Like a real man.

It’s been a strange mixture of relief, disappointment, and almost a sense of failure (and disobedience!) to leave each event without finding that connection. I finally shared this with a friend because I have almost started wishing there was someone who would just arrange the best partnership for me. As we talked, I realized a couple things that have changed my life.

  • Having a male covering does not require marriage or romance. While I have so diligently sought out and built relationships with spiritual mothers and sisters, I have completely avoided men. (Well, it’s been mutual – I’ve been invisible to most of them for over two years!) I am way out of balance!
  • I have had this strange notion that women are more than welcome to ask for a spiritual mother, but spiritual fathers were off limits.
  • I have not fully allowed my own father to perform his role as a covering in my life.

Ouch!

So in the matter of one day, I asked my daddy to more intentionally cover me in prayer, and I have agreed to let him step into that role. Through appropriate channels, I have approached and been accepted by a couple from my church who will provide an additional male covering for me.

And that intense pursuer and protector from my dream? The Lord has shown me something so sweet and amazing. It’s HIM! I have not missed the man at all – He has found me, set his eyes on me, and is pursuing and protecting me like crazy! Argh, that’s so good.

I’m learning a lot about covering through all this, and submission (eek!!). We have got to allow those men to do their jobs. Otherwise, we truly are stepping out of our covering and placing a target on our foreheads. I revisited one of the most difficult passages for me today, and thank God I see it in a new light. (Remember, if you don’t get something in the Bible, it’s just because you don’t get it yet.) Here is the passage in the Message translation:

In a marriage relationship, there is authority from Christ to husband, and from husband to wife. The authority of Christ is the authority of God. Any man who speaks with God or about God in a way that shows a lack of respect for the authority of Christ, dishonors Christ. In the same way, a wife who speaks with God in a way that shows a lack of respect for the authority of her husband, dishonors her husband. Worse, she dishonors herself—an ugly sight, like a woman with her head shaved. This is basically the origin of these customs we have of women wearing head coverings in worship, while men take their hats off. By these symbolic acts, men and women, who far too often butt heads with each other, submit their “heads” to the Head: God.

Don’t, by the way, read too much into the differences here between men and women. Neither man nor woman can go it alone or claim priority. Man was created first, as a beautiful shining reflection of God—that is true. But the head on a woman’s body clearly outshines in beauty the head of her “head,” her husband. The first woman came from man, true—but ever since then, every man comes from a woman! And since virtually everything comes from God anyway, let’s quit going through these “who’s first” routines.

Don’t you agree there is something naturally powerful in the symbolism—a woman, her beautiful hair reminiscent of angels, praying in adoration; a man, his head bared in reverence, praying in submission?
1 Corinthians 11:3-16

I know it’s specifically pointing out husbands and wives, but I think it applies to all of us. No matter what our situation is, we all HAVE multiple coverings and we also ARE a covering to others. It’s equally important to choose your covering well and to allow that person to do their duty. No one is perfect…especially without practice!