...and I'm not talking about the season. I pray that stays a little longer...or a lot longer. I'm not quite ready for fall.
Today is the beginning of week two of school for the kids, and my husband went back to work after two weeks of leave. I knew it would feel this way... just a bit strange. It's extremely quiet around here! I've been struggling a lot with the words "routine" and "normal" the last few days. Every time I would use those words I found myself not really liking them too much. I like what they imply - everyone is back in their day-to-day routine of school or work, but, for me, those words just don't seem to resonate with me. I don't want normal...I desire something different!
This summer was a little different for me. Normally when the routine breaks for the rest of the family, it does for me as well and the things that I felt important sort of don't seem as important anymore. I tend to slack off and by the time summer is over I feel all out of whack. This summer, though, I've done a lot of reflecting, I've read more books in one summer than I typically would in a whole year, and I've spent a lot of time drawing closer to the Lord. I guess it's been the books for the most part that have caused me to do a lot of looking inward - to see what's in my heart - but I also know that it's not really the books, but God who has been stirring my heart.
One of the most recent books was one my husband and I actually listened to as we were traveling this past week. Our trip took us about two and a half hours from home, and, since my husband loves to listen to audio books on long trips, he had a new one for us to listen to. Typically he would have a western playing, but this time I had asked him to pick something a little different since I don't care too much for the westerns. The way it read (or spoke, in this instance) caused me to really...really...really think.
The title - Lord Foulgrin's Letters. (I highly recommend everyone get the audio book and listen.) I'm not sure who wrote it, but it really got me thinking about the ability that Satan has to get us off track and how we need to stand guard. I was overwhelmed a few times thinking about -- what we don't guard against can easily entangle us.
When I returned home Thursday night, I looked up Ephesians 6 and printed it out to place around the house as a reminder to put on the full armor of God, daily! God's Word tells us in Ephesians 6:10-18: Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.
That book reminded me that to not pray and seek the Lord, to not read my bible and grow in my knowledge of the Truth, to not spend time on my knees asking the Lord to search me and know my heart and ask forgiveness when I sin against Him, is to give Satan room to work. It's so easy to get caught up in our day-to-day routine and totally miss out on the relationship that should be most important to us - our relationship with Christ. Nothing on earth compares, yet, if I'm honest, sometimes I don't treat that relationship as I should and I allow life (routine) to creep in and take over. Then, when I'm feeling worn down by this world I wonder why?!
Listening to that book caused me to really take note and desire to make the things of God a priority in my life. My relationship with the Lord has been strengthened by each book I've read this summer. Each one has been a reminder to me to place Him first in my life and to take seriously the scriptures that tell us that the devil has an agenda to destroy us. He wants nothing more than to distract us with our everyday lives and keep us busy doing everything BUT spending time with the Lord and growing in our faith.
As I say good-bye to summer, and try not to let the fall months bring with them a routine that is stagnant, I pray God will fill me and use me to bring glory to His name; that He will continue to pull at my heart when I allow other things to creep in and allow less room for Him, and that all I've learned in this summer will continue to build as I grow in my love relationship with Jesus. I don't want "normal" or "routine" creeping in!