“Will you not take what your god Chemosh gives you?
This is an interesting story in the continuing saga that Israel journeyed through during the time in history where judges ruled the nation. Jephthah was in that role for this account and was standing his ground, defending Israel's rights of ownership to a land that the king of the Ammonites was claiming for his own. It was when I was reading this story (read it here) that the 24th verse jumped out at me. I felt God challenging me...
War was imminent. The Ammonite king was challenging Israel on the ownership of the land in question, saying that Israel had stolen it. Jephthah went through details of the Israelite's journey from the time they left Egypt, declaring that they had legally fought for the land and God had given them victory - God had given them ownership of it. Because of that, Israel would stand their ground - they would not give up the inheritance given them by their God. He challenged the foreign king saying that he would've done the same thing if this was a dispute of something that their god (Chemosh) had given them. (interesting dialogue from a judge of Israel ...) Then, Jephthah said; "Likewise, whatever the LORD our God has given us, we will possess."
What does it mean to possess? (see Blue Letter Bible)
What has God given me?
As soon as I asked these questions, I was reminded of verses like these:
I asked myself; do I really possess what God has given me?
And God reminded me of something He allowed in my life several years ago...
I was experiencing intense back spasms, and this went on for about 6 months. The pain was terrible and most of my days ended up in bed. I had been diagnosed medically with scoliosis many years prior to this incident and, for the most part, had functioned normally despite the curvature in my spine. But this season was different.
We were leading a small congregation at the time and the Lord was taking us (and the church) through significant change. It was a revival of sorts in our church community. We were growing, and God's presence was significant among us. We moved to a larger facility and then this pain hit me. I remember feeling like it was a spiritual attack of some sort but didn't know how to verbalize that to people without them thinking I was a bit weird. So, I did what I knew that I could. I got physical attention... went to the doctor, massage therapist, chiropractor, took the med's prescribed, etc. But still did not find relief. I got spiritual attention... asked for prayer for healing, declared promises of healing over myself regularly, confessed anything that I thought might be a cause to this happening to me, submitted myself to deliverance processes (I was desperate to be free from months of chronic pain!), etc. Some of this season is embarrassing for me to think about now, but I do not regret going through it! God taught me a lot (although it was kind of a hard way).
After exhausting all the avenues that I was aware of at the time, I had to wait it out before God. I fell asleep many times (and with much medication) listening to a lot of great teaching (like Joyce Meyer) and worship music. My spirit was fed by those who spoke and sang hope. I made a practice to, as much as possible, speak life over my body. I would declare the promises of God over and over. My back still didn't change.
I don't recall the date or circumstance when the pain stopped, but I suddenly realized that it had. There were a number of people who had been praying for me in this season and I knew instinctively that God had answered mine and their cries for His intervention.
And here's the part that resonated with me as I was reading the story from Judges. Something landed in my spirit the day God took the pain away and caused the spasms to stop. As I read, He reminded me of it. It was an understanding, a confidence that the pain would not happen to me in that way ever again... if I stood my ground, not unlike what Jephthah told the Ammonite king, or what is described in Luke 10:19. I became aware of the gift, the inheritance that God had given when He healed my back and innately understood that it was mine to keep. I felt an authority that I had not felt before. Any time I felt spasms starting up in my back again, I simply (and tenaciously) would say 'NO' and they would stop! The interesting thing to me was that I had done that many times prior to this moment of God releasing healing to me, but nothing changed. I had told the pain to go in Jesus' name and nothing had changed. Somehow this was different.
I was well for several months and then the headaches hit! They would travel up the right side of my neck and knock me off my feet for a few hours. I was getting 2 or 3 of these daily. The doctor said they were like migraines but not textbook as they were just as intense but much shorter. I went through all of the same process of what I described above and then, after about six months, God lifted it. How did I know it was God? I cannot explain that to you but I knew and, like the back spasms, I then had an authority over that kind of headache that I didn't seem to have before. Any time I felt the pain traveling up my neck in the same manner, I would say 'NO' and it would retreat. In fact, even as I was writing this article it happened... I said 'NO'!
I don't understand all of this other than I must stand my ground and walk in what God has given to me. Galatians 5:1 says; "Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage." That is my definition of this verse; I will gratefully possess and occupy the land of my inheritance. I will testify and allow fruit to grow from what He has given me.
What has the Lord given me? Oh my, how can I write that all here? He has given so much - life, salvation, healing, hope, grace, mercy, forgiveness, family, possessions, creative abilities, health, peace, purpose, heaven, His presence...
How great and how vast He is!!! I never lack adventure in Him. He is better than, holier than, greater than I can even imagine. He is always more. He is not a better love, He is love. He is not a brighter light, He is light. He is goodness, kindness, gentleness, and humility. He heals, delivers, and rescues. He is God - the one true God. I can rest in Him. I can trust His ways. He has given all this and more to me in Himself, in Jesus. I will praise Him forever!
"Whatever the Lord has given me, I will possess."
God's word still talks! He is alive and active. The best part is that he speaks personally to those who will listen for him, with just as much life & effectiveness as when he spoke the world into being. He is a light in dark places. Here's an excerpt from my journal of some quick thoughts that came to me while I pondered this...
"Speak Lord. I am listening.
Because of that, I am living!"
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Hebrews 4:12 ESV
There is a scene in 'The Last Crusade - Indiana Jones', (come on, entertain me for a minute :) where Harrison Ford comes to an impasse; a chasm that must be crossed but he has no way of doing it. He cannot return until he completes this path so he takes a step of faith over the gorge, into the emptiness and with great relief, finds that his foot lands on a hidden, stone bridge. After crossing over, he stops and throws dirt on it so that it remains revealed for the return trip...
Have you ever had moments in life like that?
Some roads I've travelled have been ones that I would definitely not want repeated. These are the roads of intense pain and loss; the ones that blindsided me; the paths with deep chasms in front of them. Because they were nonnegotiable, my only foreseeable options were to either sink in the after-moments or bravely inch forward.
It takes great courage and faith to keep walking, especially when all you can see is that you are on the edge of a cliff. Typically, my heart would instruct me but in these kinds of moments it is the heart that experiences the chasm. The pain of it is overwhelming making you want to run but finding there is nowhere to go. The chasm is luring in its despair. It is then that the words of God embedded in life and the experiences of truth handed down through faithful generations kick in. It's as though I move by rote and habit, but mentally I choose what I will believe and do. I choose God.
Unlike this movie, God gives us dust to throw before we step out in faith. Faith is substance. Faith comes out of what we hope for. Hope comes from God. If we invite His presence and voice to give counsel, He will be like dirt thrown on the hidden path revealing the way forward. There is a bridge. Jesus gave us that many years ago when He came and took all hopelessness away by dying on a cross. He is the path, the truth and answer in seemingly hopeless situations. He is life and love giving healing to unanswered hurts, release from bondages formed in injustice, and incredible courage to hope again for something good in the future.
I guess what I am trying to get at is this; we cannot have answers to all of what happens in life but we can trust a loving God who promises to stand by His word. His word is His bond. When He says that He is love, we can trust that. When He says that He will never leave or forsake His kids (Psalms 94:14), we can trust that. That means He is there, at the cliff... and He will make good on His Word. He will make a way for you to cross over!
“For the Lord will not reject his people; he will never forsake his inheritance.
Unless the Lord had given me help, I would soon have dwelt in the silence of death.
When I said, “My foot is slipping,” your unfailing love, Lord, supported me.
When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.
But the Lord has become my fortress, and my God the rock in whom I take refuge.”
Psalm 94:14, 17-19, 22 NIV
Throw (apply) His Word on your scenario.
Invite His presence. Ask Him to speak. Let Him show you the bridge.
Let Him be the bridge.
Please inquire for the word of the LORD today. 1 Kings 22:5