Early on a recent Saturday afternoon, I plugged up the electric hedge trimmers and headed out to manicure four green bushes by our house. I couldn’t stand how overgrown they had gotten. They were a mess. There was a Knockout Rose bush right in the middle line up of the bushes.
Although my hair was down for the first 10 minutes, I pulled it into a pony tail eventually because of the humidity and instant sweat that was building. I had a feeling it would rain that afternoon. When I started my yard work, it was partly cloudy with sun. Some clouds were dark. It wasn’t long before I knew that storms were coming but I needed to finish trimming the bushes and mow the front lawn. I pruned the bushes more and more until I liked how they looked, but realized I had made a huge mess of little limbs which were laying all over the pine straw under, behind and around the bushes.
I was working hard to finish. My bright idea to go and get the blower turned out to cause an even bigger mess. Blowing the mess made it worse as it blew not only the limbs but also the pine straw and dirt out of their home. I knew I needed a broom and rake, so I put the blower down, accepted my reality of now having an even larger mess and grabbed the new tools from the garage. Lifting the limbs from behind and around the bushes was much easier with the rake, but some stray trash was left around the bushes.
When I lifted the trash with my bare hands, I got a rose thorn in my finger. After experiencing the pain for a few moments, it stopped hurting once I pulled the thorn out. Raking the trash and seeing it come forward from behind the bushes, I knew that I was almost done. I picked up limbs and moved them across our concrete sidewalk and threw them joyfully into the front yard. I decided to start sweeping all of the dirt, limbs and pine straw that had blown into our driveway and on the sidewalk.
As I swept the trash and debris into the front yard, I was suddenly side swiped with a horrible thought about my past. I praise God for healing my heart and continuing to make me whole. Somehow, though, I knew that this was an attack from the enemy just like that thorn had come out of no where and pierced my skin. I stood almost paralyzed with my broom while I relived in my mind the hurt and hopelessness. Within seconds, though, I thanked God for how He has been so gracious to heal me with His love, knowing my heart has been and still is tender, and how he has delivered me from all of my troubles.
Knowing that the Holy Spirit was with me allowed me to take heart and move forward with my chores in the yard. I suppose that the enemy of my soul felt it was his opportunity to attack me. Fortunately, I know the tactics of the devil and decided to ask God to help me not to dwell in the memory. I remembered my deliverance and how God is making all things new in my life. The old has gone. The new has come.
It was time to mulch the limb debris so I drove the lawn mower from the backyard where my husband was going to be using it later. I powered it up and began to drive over the limbs from the bushes. After I mowed once across the lawn, I felt the first raindrop.
I mowed as fast and furiously as I could. I would not allow those pesky dandelion weeds to stay there another day. Intentionally, I mowed them down. Drips of rain flowed between my eyebrows and down my nose. My glasses were completely drenched. I finally finished having mowed most of the area in our front yard. I felt a peace about mowing in the rain and just kept going until it was done.
As I entered the house, I realized how wet my shirt had gotten. It was soaked along with my hair. I wiped my arms and changed shirts. I was so thankful to take refuge in my home. It was great to do the yard, but even better to come inside away from the drenching drops of rain.
As the next day came, we went to church. My pastor, under the anointing of the Holy Spirit, used the following verse as his text:
Luke 4:3 “When the devil had finished every temptation, he left Him until an opportune time.”
He mentioned that we, like Jesus, are attacked by the devil when we are alone or feeling lonely. I was alone in the front yard while my family was in the back yard. They had jobs to do but I had to do my part of the yard work too. It was after I had pruned and manicured the bushes and was sweeping up the mess, when I was pierced with the thoughts from the enemy of my soul. I understand now that the devil had waited for the opportune time. Wow. In that moment while sitting in church, I realized that I had just been tempted the day before to believe a lie when the attack of the devil had bombarded my mind in the yard. Thankfully, I believed truth and not lies and moved ahead in peace and victory.
Matthew 4:11 from The Message says: “The Test was over. The Devil left. And in his place, angels! Angels came and took care of Jesus’ needs.” Just as the devil left Jesus, he left me too as I prayed in my mind while holding that broom in the yard. I am thankful that as the cleansing rains came, I had already run to Jesus. He sheltered me and kept me safe. I believe also that his angels ministered to me to help me persevere through the rest of the yard work.
Later on in the afternoon after Sunday lunch, my family did errands. I shopped with my daughters for impatiens plants for our backyard and paint for our front door. We later drove to the mall and found some dresses for my oldest child’s graduation and school dance. Sun was shining with clouds. After our final stop, I couldn’t believe that it was raining when we exited the store. We quickly put our bags in the back of my van and jumped into our seats. My skin was soaked seemingly more than my shirt. I wiped my skin with my shirt. I said, “This is the second time in two days that I’ve gotten rained on!”
There is such great joy to be covered again and protected from the rain. The key is to know that I am with God whether I’m in the rain, in the shelter or trying to clean up messes on partly cloudy days.
Psalm 61:4 “I long to dwell in your tent forever and take refuge in the shelter of your wings.”
My heart’s desire is to dwell with God forever and take refuge in Him. By relying on Jesus when I am in a deluge of memories of mistakes or hurt over what others have done, I have the resolve to rely on Jesus and the truth of His Word. I have to lift up my heart and know that I do not have to stay where there is no shelter. The Holy Spirit and the Word of God direct me to truths that I can count on which will protect my mind and my heart.
As I have thought about that day in the yard, I remembered the zeal with which I started the yard work and the perseverance that it took both physically and mentally. My arm and back muscles were sore for several days. My heart also had to recover from the attack by continually praying, trusting God for peace and reading His Word. It helped me to talk to God about moments that threatened my peace and joy. The Bible tells us that it is the enemy’s job to steal, kill and destroy. I know that Jesus came to give life and to give it more abundantly.
What a contrast to know that I trust in the Maker of life itself, the one who overcame death, hell and the grave, the Redeemer of my soul through His blood shed on the cross of Calvary and my soon coming King! He is faithful to always be with me. The Holy Spirit allowed me to realize the truths found in Psalm 86:13, 15 in the MSG version of the Bible:
“You’ve always been great toward me – what love! You snatched me from the brink of disaster!…You, O God, are both tender and kind, not easily angered, immense in love, and you never, never quit.”
Another lesson I have pondered from my experience is that when you clean up messes, beware of thorns. I thought I could handle picking up the debris with bare hands much like I have thought that I could deal with hurt, sadness and loneliness. Some issues that have affected me are like those thorns laying in wait. When something triggers us and we get a memory revived in our mind’s eye, it is important to take any issue to Jesus. And, realize we are under attack. As I continue to focus on God’s word and pray to Him, I realize that the attack is only temporary. He is working all things out for my good.
Thank you, Jesus!
The final lesson I’ve been internalizing is that the Holy Spirit led Jesus to the wilderness where the tempting began from the enemy, but did not intend for Jesus to stay there. I know that it was not the Father’s intent for Jesus to stay in that wilderness. It is not His will for me or you to constantly entertain the enemy if he appears or a situation happens that seems like a wilderness experience. I need to know the Bible and allow the Holy Spirit to bring Scripture to my mind if I am under attack or read it straight from a Bible.
Jesus repeated Scripture when the devil tried to trick him. Jesus had a strategy: Use the Word. He was the Word made flesh who dwelt among us, but He also spoke the Word. There is Power in the Name of Jesus and there’s power in His Word. His word lights my path so even if there is darkness that is trying to invade, His Words are sweet and make me wise. Oh, how I hope in his Word and His Word holds me. I have been so blessed by the Psalms in all of my thinking about this attack. I’d like to end my post today by sharing the Word:
Psalm 119:97-117 King James Version (KJV)
97 O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day.
98 Thou through thy commandments hast made me wiser than mine enemies: for they are ever with me.
99 I have more understanding than all my teachers: for thy testimonies are my meditation.
100 I understand more than the ancients, because I keep thy precepts.
101 I have refrained my feet from every evil way, that I might keep thy word.
102 I have not departed from thy judgments: for thou hast taught me.
103 How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!
104 Through thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way.
105 Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.
106 I have sworn, and I will perform it, that I will keep thy righteous judgments.
107 I am afflicted very much: quicken me, O Lord, according unto thy word.
108 Accept, I beseech thee, the freewill offerings of my mouth, O Lord, and teach me thy judgments.
109 My soul is continually in my hand: yet do I not forget thy law.
110 The wicked have laid a snare for me: yet I erred not from thy precepts.
111 Thy testimonies have I taken as an heritage for ever: for they are the rejoicing of my heart.
112 I have inclined mine heart to perform thy statutes alway, even unto the end.
113 I hate vain thoughts: but thy law do I love.
114 Thou art my hiding place and my shield: I hope in thy word.
115 Depart from me, ye evildoers: for I will keep the commandments of my God.
116 Uphold me according unto thy word, that I may live: and let me not be ashamed of my hope.
117 Hold thou me up, and I shall be safe: and I will have respect unto thy statutes continually.