Friday, August 7, 2009


by Donna L. Watkins

It took God twenty-one years to get Jacob to a place of humility with a contrite heart and a broken spirit. He was very strong-willed and a schemer. Jacob's name means "deceiver" and when he finally turned himself over to God, God changed his name to Israel, which means "God rules" or "God’s fighter."

© 2009 Donna L. Watkins - Cold Winter Day Blue Jay

It's good to have staying power. In our culture it's hard to find strong character that can endure hardships and persevere. Many folks have a hard time with self-control and delayed gratification. Advertising has retrained the American mind quite effectively to become consumers and seekers of pleasure in the marketplace. Whether it's clothes, spa days, eating, gadgets or electronics, what our treasures are will reveal where our heart is (Matthew 6:21). Our focus has become more about 'stuff' rather than making a lasting difference in the world.

I was born with good German and English roots and a strong work ethic being raised by grandparents in the 50's. My personality was very strong-willed as a child and I was certainly a "handful" while growing up. I don't think I lost any of that as I entered into single life, married life or motherhood. I only added to my own strength as troubles came and went, I bore up under pressure and stayed the course. Stubbornness proved a good companion along with enough pride to never say die.

When my stressed lifestyle began creating health issues, I only stuck my chin up higher and weathered the storms. With each tossing wave I would dive into it with the determination of getting victory. Oh yes, there were also waves of despair and grief and self-pity to deal with, but like a surfer focused on rising above it all, I kept getting back on board.

God wants us to fight evil in our lives and desires for us to be victorious and not be a whiner or wallow in self-pity, but through it all, He also wants us to turn to Him and use His strength, rather than our own. I didn't see that balance. I didn't realize it, but I kept plugging away in my own strength and determination, although my prayers and thoughts were convinced I was asking God to handle it and give me streength. My mind was always busy with the details of "making it through this day."

A large part of making it was meditating on Scripture. A good thing and part of the process, but Smith Wigglesworth says, "It is when we are empty and undone, when we come to God in our nothingness and helplessness, that He picks us up." 1 Peter 5:8-9 says, "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world."

I always read that with my strong-headed thoughts and set out to beat the adversary before he devoured me. But I see now that most of my life I operated in my own strength. Wigglesworth says this about being sober: "It means to have a clear knowledge that we are powerless to manage, but also to have a rest of faith. The Adversary's opportunity is when we think that we are something and try to open our own door. Our thoughts, words, and deeds must all be in the power of the Holy Spirit ... We need not only to be filled with the Spirit but also to have a "go forth" in us, a knowledge that God's holy presence is with us."

"Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep" (Psalm 121:4).

We don't have to do it alone. Although I've always felt I was going into the battle with the Lord, God has shown me that in my pride and stubbornness I never really submitted to letting go. "Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble, and He delivered them from their distress" (Psalm 107:6).

God wants to help and guide us. Far too often I have prayed for guidance but stood on my known ways of dealing with things. It's pride of life - pride of being able to handle what life throws at us. We want to be strong in all situations, but God wants us to be helpless so He can make us strong.

Aren't we much like that with our children? We know there's better ways of doing things. We've had the experience. You have some children who are willing to be guided and others that just don't neck-rein well. They lurch head forward into situations and have to learn by experience. That's me! Thinking I can handle it all and figure it out. Our Papa wants the best for us, as all parents want for their children.

As Christians we are covered by the blood of Jesus and need to put on our armor daily, but Wigglesworth says, "as we yield and yield, we find ourselves in possession of another mind, even the mind of Christ, which causes us to understand the perfection of His will."

Every moment is an opportunity to be with Jesus. We can be sober, and yet vigilant. Always keeping in mind that God is with us, and God is for us, and "if God is for us, who can stand against us" (Romans 8:31). We can stand against ourselves by taking on burdens we were never meant to bear.

Sit back and think about it. Have you really been letting God be your strength? Have you totally surrendered your troubles to Him? Have you laid it on the altar and not returned to pick it up with another bright idea you've not yet tried?

Surrender is what God's been speaking to me for the past month ... is He speaking it to you also?

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