Victor Over Darkness and Diapers

As a father of four, one of the most honest moments of my day is when I first wake up. I stumble out of bed, feeling gravity announce every aching joint and every distressed vertebrae. I walk into walls and breathe profanity at the underfoot legos. I start the process of getting coffee ready and there in the dark of the morning, I feel the receding wisps of the fog of the dreams that I left back on my pillow.

It is on some mornings that I awake and find that my dreams have produced some sort of answer to the burning questions of why everything cooked well, but not uniquely, tastes like chicken. Other mornings, I flee from sleep because some stalking monster has followed me room to room waiting to pounce.

This morning, it was The Monster. There is one fear out of all that if it manifests into a dream will wake me and launch me into a hard day. I am husband to a wonderful woman and father to children who inspire and stretch me to the end of myself. But some mornings I wake up and feel like when I walk about as the indestructible father and husband of my home that I am wearing someone else’s armor. I am bearing someone else’s sword. I’m not a phony, just ill prepared.

I just started working at a wood shop and it is all of the glory I remember it to be. And I swear to you I have used these tools before. I also swear that I have needed every single instruction that the shop boss has given me. I wasn’t faking the knowledge. But I did need someone to treat me like the scared little baby deer assuring me that the table saw is not going to eat my hands if I use the proper procedure.

Table saws are scary.

I remember waking up in the desert, a fine dusting of early morning sweat beading on my forehead, the mildly effective air conditioning of the trailer grinding away toward its eventual failure. I remember looking into the dark and wondering if today was going to find me unworthy of the uniform I was about to don. Absent my clunky body armor and faithful M16, I was just a scrawny kid, far from home, planted among a bunch of weirdos from Hawaii.

The Monster that has pursued me from my dreams for nearly four decades is a simple and ancient one. It is my need that is only available to be filled by me. It is my inadequacy to fill that need, but the task to try.

When the stories of our lives are written, they aren’t nearly as suspenseful as the first run, no cuts, live version. We can look back on moments and share the anecdotes. We might even tell them well to create some sort of remembered suspense. But nothing beats being inside of that moment.

That is the real power of our testimony. We may harness the power of the moment in our story telling so potently that we inspire people with our story. We may tell it so well that it inspires best-selling novels and HBO mini series. We might just tell it so well that it gives someone else hope. But if you look at the book of Revelation, it is victory over darkness.

Then I heard a loud voice in heaven saying, ‘Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. And they have conquered him by the blood of the lamb and the word of their testimonies, for they loved not their lives even unto death. Rev 12:10-11 (ESV)

It is The Monster, and the fight of hell against us, that Satan stands before the throne of grace and accuses us of being unworthy facsimiles of the Great One. It is our duty as the warriors who fight this fight to latch onto three things.

1. We must submit to the fact that there is power beyond anything in our grasp or creation. The Blood of the Lamb was spilt at His choice for us and for our sins. It is the power of that love congealed within that precious flow to which hell has no weapon or accusation. Nothing can diminish you when you are so potently loved by so giving and sacrificing a God.

2. We must tell our story. We must tell it to ourselves first. It is the story that remembers that we are not strong enough, but that our fight is not measured by our strength alone. Our fight is determined by the power of heaven that has been inserted into our marrow. The Lamb, the great conqueror, stands on the battlefield with His foe on our feet, next to our feet, before our feet, behind our feet, and above our feet. And we have seen it.

3. We must fight even though we know what is at stake. The fight could take us, but we must love God’s victory more than we fear the expenditure of ourselves in its service.

Power in hand, speaking the Father’s plan. You’re sending us out, light in this broken land. All authority, every victory is Yours. Savior, worthy of honor and glory, worthy of all of our praise, You overcame. Jesus, awesome in power forever, awesome and great is Your name. You overcame. [1]

It was in an early morning that David rose and knew that he himself was not enough. When the opportunity came, he did not put on the pretended armor of another man’s body. He did not carry a weapon foreign to his hand. He stepped onto the battlefield with the simple tools of warfare and shepherding. It is a nicely packaged story now. But then it was life and death. He could have died. He must have known that, too. But he believed. He believed God more than the voice inside that explained to him in vivid detail just how big that giant was.

And he overcame.

It was the faithfulness of God in that moment that empowered David. It is the faithfulness of God that chases The Monster away from my heart. My fears of inadequacy are measured against a diaper full of poop. And while my infant son smiles into my face and needs me to be there, I can’t be everything he needs. But I can change his diaper. I can snuggle my sons as they wake. I can listen to their dreams and wrestle them to the ground. I can hold my daughter and hear about her aspirations to be a princess/cowgirl/sheriff/astronaut/scientist/veterinarian.

And we will overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony, everyone overcome. [2]

I remember being called into Lloyd’s office. He was the person whose worship style I had originally dismissed when I first participated with it. I came to that service broken by cynicism. I volunteered for his team for purely selfish reasons. He took me anyway.

I started playing rhythm guitar after a year. It was at that time that humility sprouted and I became teachable. I was having fun. I was having JOY. Being called to his office, I was certain that he was about to fire me from the team, having discovered that I had no idea what I was doing but I was having fun learning.

He told me he would probably be leaving soon and he needed someone to take over. I was not his first choice. But first choice said, “no.” Hello, inadequacy, my old friend.

The next six months were a whirlwind of learning how to plan and prepare worship for people with high standards and great needs. He showed me how to handle criticism with humility and lead from the heart. He gave me a team full of talent and wisdom. Those people taught me along with him. One Sunday, as the accusation from The Monster was particularly strong, Lloyd and his wife Allison led the Jeremy Camp song “Overcome.” As we entered into the bridge, something powerful happened. I watched my fear dissolve before the truth of the victory of those who are loved by God. I watched and I listened. As I jammed downward on the downbeat of the bridge while it intensified, Lloyd sang the repeating refrain “We will overcome…” and then I heard, high over his voice, Allison belting out the truth in perfect harmony. It was a harmony so fitting the theme and my need and God’s awesome power.

We are desperate for completion in Him. We need Him. We need His power poured out now over this battlefield that starts every single morning in the dark. And the darkness, filled with His glorious light is the first monumental battlefield of the day, won by His goodness and His love. When I am still and quiet, I can still hear Lloyd and Allison so perfectly tuned to one another in song and faith.

So rise this morning, pursued by monsters, or legos, or your past, or an uncertain future. Rise and sing. The victory of the Lamb is already written. And it is being written on your heart. Sing, and praise with the confidence that your harmony will not be perfect, but the mystery of God’s provision will perfect what you lift to the glory of the One who is worthy.

Of all honor.

All power.

All glory.

Forever and ever.

Amen.


1. Jon Egan, “Overcome,” We Cry Out: The Worship Project, (BEC, 2010) CCLI# 5064359

2. Ibid.

Categories: WorshipTags: , , , , , , ,

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