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Your Worst Enemy

I’ve been enjoying our Christmas tree since the day after Thanksgiving. Does it seem like ‘decorating day’ is an endless day?

1. Moving around the furniture in order for everything to fit just right, making sure there is balance.

2. Hauling everything down from the attic, spreading everything out & then living in chaotic organization until the decorations are precisely placed

3. Then the subtractions, additions + the rearranging which always accompanies the many days to follow. It’s never ending, it seems!

I wonder…

What if we were as deliberate with people and with matters of true importance as we are when we decorate for Christmas?

You know… moving around our schedules to make sure others ‘fit’? Taking the pains to ‘haul’ off or help carry the weight/burdens of others? Shifting our mindset from self and the present situation in order to see the bigger picture? Looking to make decisions based on the greater good rather than on our own selfish desires or concerns or feelings? Making those hard decisions even when it is uncomfortable?

“Where jealousy and selfishness are, there will be confusion and every kind of evil.”

James 3:16

👆 This needs no commentary. It states it perfectly…

Selfishness = Confusion+Evil

A dear friend of mine, when I was in a period of complaining, once said to me “Dana, you are you own worst enemy.”

I was focusing on myself too much, concentrating on how I felt I had been wronged or was in a desolate season thinking God was not hearing my cries.

I was waiting & waiting for something to happen, for God to fix the situation, but I was not able to get beyond a victim mentality to see what God was doing in the midst of it all — for the greater good — for His Kingdom. How fitting it is to speak of now as we are in the season of Advent and studying what it means to wait on the arrival of our Savior, don’t ya think?

I never forgot those words of my dear friend & sister in Christ. She and her words helped shape me and turn my way of thinking around many times since then to focus upward rather than on self.

We can either focus inward, on ourself & on our own selfish ambitions & desires and ‘woe is me’ mentality, or we move out of the way and let God do His perfect work THROUGH us, through OTHERS around us, & through each situation in which He has placed us.

It’s not about you (or me).

Stop focusing on your own feelings, how you’ve been wronged, or on what is wrong with the world around you.

Help stop the chaos + confusion. Ask God for wisdom + revelation to know His plan for your life in this situation & how you can make a difference or even grow from it.

Stop being your own worst enemy.

(I’m preaching to myself, again, btw.)

The Praying Mantis and a Parking Sign

The Praying Mantis and a Parking Sign


Don’t give up. 

Be persistent in prayer; pray without ceasing! 

“…praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints” (Eph. 6:28). 

Pray through and never give up.

 I feel God reminded me of this through His little creature, the praying mantis, who has been following me over the last couple of weeks. 

I’ve been struggling with faith and trust in God in the form of ‘worry’ over the last few weeks/months.  I am usually pretty good about letting go and letting God do His thing, but there are 2 main areas that have given me anxiety recently.  One, of which, the praying mantis more than spelled it out for me!

There is a ‘thing’ I’ve been wanting to happen for a long time now…for several years. I have wanted it so badly that it has become an area of frustration in my life.  I have felt, for so long now, that this thing, or project (for lack of a better word), has been needed and would open doors that have not yet been explored or even thought about.  The process has begun, but the good ol’ devil is trying to hinder it any way possible!  For reasons out of our control, we are at a stand still – at least for such a time as this.  This hurts my heart, as I was so extremely excited that it was finally coming to fruition, or at least, the beginning stages of the project were starting to unfold.  

When the process came to a standstill, my heart just ached and frustration set in again.  No one is at fault in this delay….it just is what it is. God has allowed this, for such a time as this, so I know He has plans underway that far exceed my expectations!

It’s like building a house….once the process gets started, you are sooooo excited that it is finally happening!  Then….you run into snags over and over and over again … sometimes you feel overwhelmed, and then frustration and discouragement set in and you think it will never happen.  

Another area of anxiety is my boys’ future.  It seems the older they get, the more I worry.  Right now I worry about their chosing the right profession, choosing the right college, so on and so forth….the list goes on and on and on.

My heart has just been in a holding place….a place of worry and anxiety…
Until now.

Look at this…..


Where did this praying mantis land??  Right smack dab in the middle of a Handicapped Parking sign! 

No, I didn’t ‘get it’ right away.  It took several visits from this praying mantis for me to finally realize that I could glean a spiritual lesson from God’s little creature!

  


He started out in the parking lot, but as I was going about my business, I realized he kept moving closer and closer to my office.  Here, you can see him on the column that is located under the awning right outside my office window.  

He then decided he liked it so much he’d just hang out around that area.

  

Here he is on a bed of flowers close to the front door.



And here, my last sighting of him (in hopes there will be more), he is seen right in front of the front office window, just peeking in!  

After seeing him a couple of times, my mind went back to my first sighting of him on the Handicapped Parking sign; and THAT’S when it hit me….  sometimes we handicap ourselves by our own ‘stinkin’ thinkin’ and thwart those areas of prosperity that God has in store for us, basically, because we do not have faith, or we have lost faith.

After stopping and thinking about this praying mantis, I said to myself, “you stupid girl….cast all your cares (anxieties) upon the Lord, for He cares for you!” (1 Peter 5:7)  
“You have been praying to Him, but you haven’t CAST your anxieties upon Him!”

There are 7 different definitions of the verb ‘cast’ in the Webster’s dictionary, all of which use a form of the verb ‘throw’ to define it.  So, in essence, to cast your care upon the Lord means to throw it in His direction as if to send off/away or to get rid of.

Rather than worry about this project, and rather than worry about my boys’ future, I need to throw those worries to God, let HIM handle it in HIS own timing and in HIS own way, rather than getting anxious and frustrated if I don’t see the future clearly or if something doesn’t happen in MY time frame.  I must TRUST in His plans, for HIS plans are far better than I could ever ask or imagine!
Yes, I do have my quiet time every day.  Yes, I am in communion with God on a daily basis…every day all through the day and sometimes through the night.  However, I have gotten caught up in my own desires rather than focusing on the desires of HIS heart, and this has allowed worry to creep in slowly, but oh, so surely!  

I looked up the facts on the praying mantis and his defensive tactics:  The praying mantis will either flee from danger if necessary, or he will confront his enemy by putting up his dukes and fighting like a boxer. 

The fact that the praying mantis will stand his ground by putting up his front legs and fighting has reminded me that I may not see a quick answer to my prayers, but I must stand my ground by being persistent in prayer and never giving up until I see the answer, whatever it may be.  I must flee from the devil – from the worry – by putting on the whole armor of God – DAILY.  

God is a patient God. 
God is a faithful God.
God is a loving God.

I must be patient.
I must persevere! 

“…though he will not rise and give to him…, yet because of his persistence he will rise and give him as many as he needs” (Luke 11:5-8). 

Just keep asking in prayer.  “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33).

And, whenever you see a praying mantis, remember….it’s time to keep praying!!
“Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4).