In the past, certificates and degrees have qualified people to do their jobs, in my opinion. Recently, I’ve come to realize that it’s more about experience and tenure.
I spent the last 6 years gaining certification after certification in the health and fitness industry but none of that knowledge would’ve mattered if it hadn’t been applied. If I had not been faced with obstacles outside of a manual or text book, I could’ve had all the information to handle generic situations but not the skills to handle abnormal client needs. If I didn’t continue to apply new things that I learned and implement new strategies and avenues to reach goals, I would’ve wasted my talents and become stagnant. Things change. Situations change. People change.
This applies to our faith life. When the kids were very little I attended bible studies and kept a prayer journal. My relationship with God was growing, at a rapid and exciting pace. I led a study at a local church, and I freely and openly discussed the Lord with any ears that would hear. But as the enemy would have it, he made my time at home feel mundane and those studies and the knowledge I was equipping myself with became redundant. With two little ones my days started to feel like Groundhog Day. If you have ever had children, you may be able to relate. Most of my time was spent feeding the boys, changing diapers, or changing their clothes because something had gone terribly wrong in one of the preceding duties. When you grow complacent with your maturity in Christ, your experience and intimacy with him start to subside, couple that with raising two small children while your husband works long days (sometimes 14-16 hours), and you are opening the door to your home for the devil to walk right in. And so he did. I didn’t need to invite him twice. I don’t really believe I did it all at once either.
I think it was probably a dark night when I saw headlights pull up and a car stop in front of my house. Intrigued by the lights and excited by a visitor, I may have set my bible study and bible aside to peer out the window. He was probably clothed in all the things I thought were now out of reach. I can safely assume, he came with a bottle of wine, tabloid magazines, diet pills, a handful of money, accolades, etc…you name it, I was looking out the window at it, thinking what it might be like to just let it in for a moment. Surprisingly, there was no knock on the door, that would be too forward for him. He just stood there with his powerful charm and allure, knowing that if he waited long enough, that I had just enough Groundhog Days, I might unlock that door on my own without him ever having to ask. The first bait I took was vanity. I’ve chewed on that one so long that I recently made myself sick. I do believe it was my Achilles heel and he knew it. Vanity, by definition is excessive pride in or admiration of one’s own appearance or achievements. Appearance may have not been my downfall but achievement was. He was radiating achievement at the time in my life where I felt like nursing a child while hand feeding another, and having a husband busting his butt to keep our heads above water, felt anything but esteemed. Certainly not something I was shouting from the rooftops.
My bible and study were left laying in the same spot from 2010. I let satan in and he ruled the roost, to put it mildly. I had the knowledge to turn this train around but the skills and patience with the Lord were growing rusty. Trying to break free from this 6 year season with the devil was like trying to use a butter knife to chop wood. It was nearly impossible. In retrospect, his power is astonishing. I let satan in and I helped him rebuild this house for 6 years with my own hands.
These bricks and mortar that I built with the devil, assuming I had built them with the Lord’s provision were starting to crack. We worked hard together to put up these walls, mixing mortar and making bricks by hand. I thought they were really beautifully made. It was something to be esteemed and what I had considered a great achievement. Last year, a few bricks had fallen off the house and the mortar and glue that should’ve been holding it together was starting to crack. Holding most of them up with my back I tried to reach the few that had fallen to replace them. Things were going as they should, if bricks were missing, all this work I’d done for 6 years would be incomplete, and this house…oh, it needed to be bigger and stronger than any I had built before. When I went to grab the nearest brick to replace it, my back barely came off the wall and the entire house came tumbling down. In September of 2016, God showed me that enough was enough. My spiritual maturity was almost completely lost and my moral compass was pointing south. God literally put my back against the wall with nowhere else to turn. Thankfully, He knocked some of those bricks down or I would’ve never reached out allowing the house to fall.
Now, I’m making new bricks and mixing new mortar. Equipping myself with knowledge and power that the Lord IS giving me. I’m taking my time, this time around. I know this will take patience but what I will gain is an otherworldly experience with the Lord. I don’t need to have certifications or degrees to build these bricks. No matter what I have on paper, the new house I’m building won’t be strong unless it’s built through maturity with the Lord. These bricks will be made from solid rocks of truth and freedom and the adhesive mortar made of the Good News. This house will be a place where I can seek refuge, find shade and rest in the shadow of the Most High, where I won’t fear the terror of night (or the alluring visitors the night brings), and where I will call on Him and He will answer me. I won’t have to spend my time repairing cracks and I’ll never grow weary trying to keep it standing. Although these stones from the past 6 years have all fallen around me, chipped, cracked, and walls wrecked with interiors exposed, I will take my time to rebuild and give Him glory for it all.