Puzzles were part of my childhood. Granny often had one going on a card table and we would gather around to visit and piece it together in the living room. Surrounded by smells of something tasty cooking in the kitchen.
Lions remind me of Revelation 5:5 “Then one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.”
Revelation reminds me of my daddy and how he loved to study the Bible, especially end-time prophecy. I am so grateful for the time we had together and what I learned from him.
Opal Heinkel Marsden, a very dear friend to my dad, is often posting photos of her puzzle work. She puts together some challenging ones and watching her inspired me to start puzzling again. When I stopped by the bookstore to grab a puzzle this one practically jumped off the shelf and into my arms.
It will be challenging to complete but has already brought many good memories:
Memories of my granny teaching us life lessons about working together.
Memories of the many things daddy taught me about studying God’s word.
Memories of good friends and family gathered around Daddy’s table, talking, learning, dining on something delicious he had prepared.
Memories of who the Lion of Judah is and the victory that is promised to all Believers. There’s a letter about it, written just for you. I hope you’ve read it. If not it’s still there, waiting for you.
But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. Isaiah 40:31 KJV Note to self: “Wait” is the key word in this scripture. Be still, don’t get in too big of a hurry. Listen, rest, refresh, renew. Then plow forward. If you fail to wait upon the Lord you may take the wrong path, forfeit His help and miss out on divine endurance.
The gift of free will allows us to choose what path we will take. Choose our beliefs, what standards we hold ourselves and others to, what things we regard as important, honorable, admirable. Our choices may not align with each other. That’s the beauty of free will, you choose for you, I choose for me, we do not have to agree. The most significant part of this gift from our Creator is that we don’t even have to agree with Him. He will not force us to follow His way. He leaves it up to us to choose the consequences we face through the choices that we make.
How do we decide what we believe? Many beliefs get programmed into us through family, culture, school, religion, philosophy, education, propaganda. Strong influencers in our lives can make it difficult for us to think for ourselves when we are younger. As we mature other factors enter in like making a living, lack of time, distractions of life, rebelliousness, or just plain laziness all can get in the way of self-analysis. Regardless of why we believe what we believe, in the end when we leave this life to face the next, the only person held accountable for what we believe is ourselves. There won’t be a free pass because someone taught us the wrong thing to believe.
I am always questioning my beliefs to make sure they are my own. Life offers many opportunities to question what the heck is going on and what my belief is. Questioning can lead to deeper understanding, new realization or leave me scratching my head still wondering what the heck? My beliefs are deep rooted and solid in some areas and very pliable in others. Some beliefs I have held tightly to because they have proven themselves true. Others entwine around me and try to bind me up even though I have tried to shake them in numerous ways, they are societies programming that I am constantly trying to cleanse myself of. Certain beliefs pressed on me by well-meaning religious teachers have required significant re-programming of my mind.
It would be easier not to self-analyze. Just go with the flow, be politically correct, follow the latest trends, listen to the preacher, do whatever the government told me to. I’ve tried those approaches a few times in my life when I’ve been exhausted or disheartened. In the end going with the flow somehow always rubs me the wrong way and I eventually wake up and return to my own way. Bold, direct, not politically correct, reading and studying the Bible for myself.
The war to influence our free will is ancient. Competition, jealousy, fear and hate mongering have always been tools the enemy used to control our emotions and work against us. The speed of the internet increases the velocity at which information penetrates our mind and diminishes our ability to decipher one attack before the next one is hitting us. The warfare takes on many forms: political affiliation, color of skin, religion, national origin, sexual orientation. Those shrouds of keeping us stirred up were used covertly up until a few years ago when the enemy became bolder. The camouflage has faded on the shroud of traditional palatable areas of propaganda. Now the war is visible outright as it blatantly rages against our free will and the freedom to exercise it.
Tactics of overwhelm are used as we are bombarded with information and no time to determine fact from fiction before the next barrage is poured out upon us. So much information, so much distraction. Wars and rumors of wars, viruses, wild weather, wild fires, racial injustice, sexual slavery, corruption under every stone. Tying us up in emotions of fear, anger, hate, rage, discouragement, helplessness. They poke and gouge and push our buttons getting us to put love on the back burner and battle with each other on our own soil, in our own homes, with our own friends and family. Their goal is that we don’t use the most powerful gift we were given. They want us to stop thinking for ourselves, stop being accountable for our own actions, stop using our mind, stop critical thinking, stop common sense reasoning, stop exercising our free will.
There is a fanatical radical in each of us, whether we yell at the top of our lungs on public domains or quietly plug along screaming silently, internally. We are creatures vibrating with energy from the electric current coursing through our being that is hard wired to emotion and feelings created in the very image of God Himself by His own hand. With our first breath we are designed to be ever seeking homeostasis and survival at all costs. Fight or flight is a continual unconscious question that our body/mind/spirit is asking itself. Each of us deals with the answer differently. Some people run to the fight, some run for safety, some sit still a little longer than others trying to figure out what the truth is.
The powers that be in this world are seeking to crush and control us. They understand and utilize the weapons of biology, psychology and spirituality. Fatiguing our systems, creating brain fog, depressive moods, trying to deplete our energy so that we are unable to process information, trying to create a sense of hopelessness so that we will grab onto any little pleasure they throw in front of us to numb the pain. Traditionally the pain killers were sports, shopping, cooking, eating, alcohol, drugs, pornography. Now they have added things like celebrity gossip, silly tiktok videos, and ignorant milk crate challenges. Anything they can use to influence and direct the masses is being used. They bombard us with bad news, upon bad news, upon bad news and offer us easily accessible pleasurable entertaining distractions from the bad news. Each is a tactic to control our thinking, to crush our free will. Filling our conscious and subconscious minds with propaganda promoting the direction they want us to move. They move us in masses, as if we were cattle, in whatever direction they choose.
Ponder this: The battle for our soul is the enemy’s ultimate goal. Have you ever thought about how precious our soul must be that such a divisive battle has been waged for it?
Death is eminent from our first breath. We are required to be prepared to meet our Creator. Today if the Taliban, or the little guy in Korea, or the intelligent guy in Russia, or the ancient Chinese, or our own elected president marches into our home and kills us we will be standing before our maker explaining why we believe what we believe.
What do I believe? I believe I’ll continue to take a moment each day to think about what I believe and make sure it is my own belief, then I will conduct myself accordingly regardless of what anyone else believes.