I haven’t written a post for the last few days, because I’ve been in a lot of pain, and I’m operating on very little sleep. Still, in the midst of my pain, the Lord ministers to me and speaks to me through His word.
Sunday, after church, I felt the Lord leading me to begin a study of spiritual warfare. Over the years, I’ve done many studies on spiritual war, but the Lord never ceases to amaze me, as He takes a scripture passage or verse that I’ve read and studied, and come to understand, and opens it up in a whole new dimension. His word hasn’t changed, nor has its meaning changed. For that matter, God hasn’t changed either. It seems that the only one who has changed is me.
You see, like any good parent, God only reveals as much to us as we are able to comprehend. Then, as we grow in His maturity and grace, He reveals more to us, as much as we are able to handle at that point in our lives. I have no doubt, that as I continue to grow in His goodness and grace, He will continue to reveal more and more to me. What He reveals to me is not new — indeed, it is ageless. What He reveals to me is simply new to me, and I can’t help but get excited each time I discover something “new” in His word.
Therefore, imagine my joy, when the Lord drew me in and revealed the meaning to a scripture that I’ve read and studied many times over the years… I was going to study the whole passage in Ephesians, about the armor of God, (and I still will, after I bask in this verse first) however, I never made it past this one scripture…
Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.
As I said, I’ve studied this passage many times through the years, but the Lord led me to begin with the verse above, and read it in other versions.
A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power.
Both of these versions were worded very similarly, and the light bulb hadn’t yet clicked. I saw this verse as simply a small part of the whole passage that I was about to study (Ephesians 6:10-20), but that was about to change, as I read this verse in the Complete Jewish Bible…
Finally, grow powerful in union with the Lord, in union with His mighty strength!
My heart began to pound loudly in my chest, and I got excited, as the revelation of this word permeated my spirit. Grow powerful… in union with the Lord… Grow powerful in union with the Lord… in union with His mighty strength! The Lord was speaking to my heart… I want to be an overcomer… I want to walk in God’s power and grace… I want to see His miracles manifest… I want to have the faith that moves mountains, just like Jesus talked about… I want to lay hands on the sick and watch them recover before my eyes… I want to give sight to the blind in Jesus’ name… I want to give hearing to those who are deaf… I want to say to the mute, “Speak in Jesus’ name,” and listen as their voices begin to utter praises to our great and mighty God… When my shadow falls on the lame, I want them to jump up and begin walking and leaping and praising God… But in order to do that, I must grow powerful in union with the Lord…
I must be in union with God… The first thing I thought of was a marriage union. After all, those who follow Him are called the bride of Christ. Also, the Lord talks about being married to His people throughout scripture. Therefore, an earthly marriage is a foreshadow of what is to come, and since I’ve been married for 32 years, how can I apply what I’ve learned from my marriage union with my husband to my marriage union with God?
One thing I know — when my husband and I exchanged vows, we became one. He no longer belonged to himself alone — he now belonged to me, and I no longer belonged only to myself, because I had pledged myself to him. Because we are married, all that I have and own belongs to my husband, and all that he has and owns belongs to me. If we had any wealth or anything of value, it would belong to both of us, not just one of us.
Keeping this in mind, let’s apply this to our union with God. When I pledged myself to Christ, His wealth became mine too…
16 For His Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children. 17 And since we are His children, we are His heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share His glory, we must also share His suffering.
Not only that, but since what is mine is his, and vice-versa, that also includes any debts that we owe. My husband is responsible for making sure that any debts I have accrued are paid for, and I am equally responsible for his debts.
For this reason, because we are in union with one another, my debts fell on Jesus. He knew about my debts before He betrothed me, and yet knowing the high price that He would have to pay on my behalf, He chose me anyway! Now that is love!
6 When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. 7 Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good. 8 But God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. 9 And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, He will certainly save us from God’s condemnation. 10 For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of His Son while we were still His enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of His Son. 11 So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God.
Isn’t that wonderful? Knowing the debt that I owed, He loved me… Knowing that I had been completely unfaithful, and had rejected and ignored His great love, still, He chose to remain faithful to me, loving me, and wooing me to give my love to Him in return… And before I ever even looked His way, He paid the ultimate price — sacrificing His life in return for mine!
Therefore, when I entered into this union with Jesus, I became a new person, just as when I married my husband, I became a new person. When I married my husband 32 years ago, the first thing that changed was my name. I was no longer Cheryl A. Payne — she no longer existed. I was now Cheryl A. Showers, and my life was forever changed when my husband and I were united in marriage.
One of the first things that changed even before we exchanged our marriage vows, while I was betrothed to my husband, is that I stopped dating or even looking at other men, as anything more than friends. I only had eyes for my husband. I remember getting a phone call on the night before I married my husband, from a young man that I used to date occasionally. He wanted to know what I was doing the following night, and he was very surprised when I told him that I was getting married, and therefore I would not be available to date him the next night, nor any other night, because I belonged to another now.
When we enter into union with God Almighty, through Jesus, we should have the same response when the enemy calls us or seeks us out. Because we belong to Christ, we are no longer available to entertain sin at any time. Just as I became one with my husband, so I become one with the Lord. Just as I have grown to love my husband more and more, with each passing day for more than 32 years, so I grow to love Jesus more and more, with each passing day. Just as I would never dream of flirting with other men, or committing adultery against my husband, so I would not dream of flirting with the world or with the devil, and committing adultery against Jesus...
In the 32 years of our marriage, I have learned to delight myself in my husband. I love his sense of humor, and he loves mine too. It’s funny, but after 32 years of marriage, I often know what he’s thinking before he says a word. Oftentimes, we will both start talking, saying the same thing at once. When he is sick, I am there, by my husband’s side, fussing at him when he doesn’t obey the doctor’s orders, and encouraging him to take better care of himself. And, as I have discovered in the last couple of years, especially recently, when I am sick, he is right here, by my side, taking me to the doctor, visiting me in the hospital, getting my prescriptions, getting dinner for me, when I am in too much pain to do so. He doesn’t criticize me or call me lazy, when I am unable to do things. He just treats me with love and gentle compassion. I love that man, and I delight myself in his presence. He doesn’t even have to say a word or be in the same room, because I love him, and I know that he loves me too, so even when he isn’t within eyesight or hearing distance, I still delight in him, because he is mine, and I am his, and he loves me like I am, for better or worse, as I do him.
In this same way, I love Jesus, and as much as my husband loves me, and I love him, Jesus loves me even more! When I take delight in Him, as I do my husband, His heart is moved, and there is nothing that He wouldn’t do for me, as long as it is in His will (which is always in my best interest). The more I love the Lord and delight in Him, the more He fulfills my heart’s desires, which are no longer the same as when I first met Him.
3 Trust in the Lord and do good.
Then you will live safely in the land and prosper.
4 Take delight in the Lord,
and He will give you your heart’s desires.
My beloved, this is only a part of what the Lord revealed to me about being in union with Him… There is so much more about being in union with the Lord, and I will share that with you in another post. Meanwhile, reflect on these scriptures and this post, and check to see if you are living in union with God, or if you are living apart from Him. Do you want to walk in His power and in His mighty strength? If so, make sure that you are in union with Christ, and that your relationship is as strong or stronger than earthly marriage is supposed to be…
10 Finally, grow powerful in union with the Lord, in union with His mighty strength!
*** One final note to my brothers and sisters in the Lord, I have been in a lot of pain for the last week or so, and sometimes, it seems unbearable. Then, as I am oppressed by physical discomfort, I have also been oppressed by a spirit of heaviness. I know that Christ, who is in me is stronger than these issues, nonetheless, I am in need of prayer, and I would greatly appreciate it if you would remember me in your prayers. I know that I must walk through this pain, but I ask you to pray for me, so that I can persevere. Also, please join with me in binding that depressive spirit which has wreaked havoc in my life this week. Thank you so much for your prayers and your compassion, and I pray the Lord blesses each one of you for your kindness in lifting this sister up!
Cheryl A. Showers