Snared

I first learned how to set a snare in Africa. A guinea fowl, because it likes to run across the ground, was a relatively easy target.

But in the spiritual world, I am the target. And it happens far more often than I’d like to admit. Sin snares me.

Jesus points out to his disciples, as he teaches them about the error of the Pharisees, that their tendency was to focus on outward behavior. But far more frequently, spiritual snares are set internally, in our hearts: “He went on: ‘What comes out of a person is what defiles them. For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and defile a person'” (‭Mark‬ ‭7‬:‭20-23,‬ NIV).

Look at that list closely. See how easy it is to get snared?

Really easy, because snares come in many forms. You teach yourself to recognize and avoid one. But then a whole new one waits for you. And like a true snare, once you’re caught in it, it is really, really difficult to extricate yourself.

Almost impossible, really.

Which is why King David writes what he does in Psalm 25. You have to believe that growing up out in the field as a shepherd boy, this man knew intimately what a snare was. And for him, there was only one way to get un-snared from the kinds of sins that live inside of us, that snare our very hearts.

Keep your eyes on the Lord. He alone will release you.

“For the sake of your name, Lord, forgive my iniquity, though it is great… My eyes are ever on the Lord, for only he will release my feet from the snare” (‭Psalm‬ ‭25‬:‭11, 15,‬ NIV).

Our Bible reading for Monday, February 23, is Exodus 33:7 – 34:35, Mark 7:1-30 and Psalm 25:8-15.

Lord Jesus, you are my Lord and my God. I look to you. Please release me (and my heart) from the snare of my heart’s sins. I have many unclean things residing in my heart. For the sake of your name, forgive my iniquity. Thank you for washing all my sins away by your blood shed for me on the cross.

Header image based on "Custom Setting a Trap" by Hollis, CC By 2.0

Resilience Begins with an R (and R)

We all need R and R occasionally. Rest and recovery.

These two are essential to our ability to be resilient in a very tough world. My definition of a resilient Christ-follower is this: “I’m not easily damaged when hit, stretched, or squeezed. I will bounce back to my God-designed shape.”

Let’s be honest. Life is constantly trying to beat us up, stretch us beyond recognition, or squeeze the life-blood out of us. That’s just being real.

Do we want to merely survive, or do we want to thrive? The ability to bounce back under tough conditions is not only critical to surviving, it’s even more critical to actually thriving in life. Stress will be present almost every day. But stress cannot do any lasting damage to us if we are careful to get spiritual rest and recovery.

Jesus tells us how to obtain this, and Matthew, a former tax-collector (imagine the stresses and pressures he had once endured) reports Jesus’ words to us. Spiritual R and R happens when we come to him. Jesus will provide us with rest for our souls. And what rest or recovery could be more important than that?

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30, NIV).

Jesus, help me to follow you with resilience. Remind me in the midst of many stresses and pressures–when I’m being beaten up, squeezed and stressed–to run to you for recovery. Thank you for promising to give me rest. Thank you for your gentle, humble heart toward me.

Our reading for Wednesday, January 14, is Genesis 29:1 – 30:43, Matthew 11:16-30 and Psalm 9:7-12.

Header image based on "Shepherd Takes Knee" by U.S. Army, CC by 2.0