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Monday, January 30, 2017

Celebrating Defeat!

Defeat may serve as well as victory to shake the soul and let the glory out. (Edwin Markham) 

Most of us would agree with the idea of victory sending us into places of awesome praise and tremendous celebration. Those who win some major sporting event will jump up and down, slap each other on the back, whoop, holler, and even cry in awe at having "done it". The tremendous release of emotion can almost overwhelm, but the sense of "high" which was celebrated with such passion cannot live on, for the moment will pass, memories will remain, but the moment is now behind. On the other hand, one walks away from the "win" as the defeated. Is it possible they could celebrate in similar fashion, for out of the things that shake our very souls can come greatness and character formation not quite found in the moment of gleeful victory?  

In my distress I prayed to the Lord, and the Lord answered me and set me free. The Lord is for me, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me? Yes, the Lord is for me; he will help me. I will look in triumph at those who hate me. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in people. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes. (Psalm 118:5-9 NLT)

As I write today, the song by, "God is on the Move", is playing softly in the background. If you haven't heard it, the words that capture my attention are "God is on the move today" and "God is on the move in many might ways". My friends, I don't know the things which seek to overwhelm you, or the troubles that disturb your restful slumber, but I know for a fact that God is on the move! It isn't just the victories we celebrate in Jesus - we celebrate the defeats, as well. Why? These are the moments he uses to show us just how much we need to lean into him - to do more than just declare ourselves Christians, but to act in every way as though we are!

Whenever I begin to see the waters of my own life stir a little more than usual, building into lapping waves at first, then eventually in rolling waves, and soon into mounting waves carrying such force behind them that I am pretty sure I will feel their churning effect, I can either panic, or I can look up. The seas are constantly changing, not because the fish move from here to there, but because of those waves - those underlying currents, the winds of the air, the phases of the moon, and the movement of our earth's own crust all play a part in their change. Nothing is static in the seas because they are meant to change! In fact, nothing is static in our lives because we are designed to move from glory to glory - sometimes through tremendous victory, and at others, through agonizing defeat.

This may seem strange, but I fear victory more than I fear defeat. Why? Victory has a way of lulling me into times of complacency - because I somehow think I have "arrived" or that things are all "worked out". The truth is, the place of victory is just a place of temporary rest - it isn't the place I am to stay forever! In time, the waves will begin again! While I don't relish the times of defeat, and my pride takes a tremendous hit at times, they are probably the "best times" in my life because they are the times I learned to trust. They are the times I let go of my stubborn will to do things my way, leaving behind some pretty bad habits and hang-ups, taking tenuous steps forward into the unknown. Each tenuous step was always met with God's encouragement, though. Never once did God kick me when I was down in order to keep me down. In fact, sometimes we need a little "kick" to get us moving again! It is as though the wave frees me from the resting place where I remained entrapped and just continuously pounded by those waves which were doing nothing more than wearing me down. In setting me free, he changed my perspective - giving me a new freedom to see things from a new vantage point.

I don't know what "waves" of defeat you may think you are experiencing right now, but let him move you with those waves, my friend. You don't know how much that small change in perspective can change the defeat into a moment of victory and in turn, allow the "glory out"! Just sayin!