Tuesday, April 25, 2017
Written By Angeline M Duran Santiago
They have greatly oppressed me from my youth,
but they have not gained victory over me.”
“Many a time have they afflicted me from my youth:
yet they have not prevailed against me.”
“From my earliest youth my enemies have persecuted me,
but they have never been able to finish me off.”
The more I take a moment to read the different translations of Psalm 129:2, the more my heart is filled with the assurance that in my darkest moments, I truly have not been abandoned, God has looked after me from my childhood. I look back and I remember so many tragedies, periods of crisis, and so many times where only divine intervention could have gotten my family and me through the difficulty. There have been sicknesses, traumas, and so many other things that are not worth the mentioning because I prefer to magnify my Great God and not a host of darkness whose end is defeat.
I truly love these words and as I meditated on them this morning, I had to stop and just look up the different translations. Yes, I have been greatly oppressed, afflicted and persecuted. It seemed life in school and growing up makes this sentence so real for me personally. Even later on in my late teens when I God’s love called me out of the darkness and into His glorious Light, even in the church I learned what it meant to me persecuted, mistreated, falsely accused and left alone. Throughout my days, the opposition has never ceased to come against me.
The awesome truth of getting into God’s Word is the second part of this verse. It says, they have not gained victory over me, they have not prevailed against me and they have never been able to finish me off. Hallelujah! Praise the Lord! Do you see this? Do you get it? Really get it? I heard the Lord speaking into my life this morning and saying, “Girl, I know they’ve been oppressing, afflicting and persecuting you since you were a little girl, but don’t you know it’s not going to break you? Don’t you see this is not your end? Don’t you realize that a Greater one than “they” and “your enemies” has always been by your side?
I am encouraged this morning because these words are not just for me. These words are resounding loud and clear for my son Jacob, Type 1 Diabetes has afflicted you from your infancy, but it will not destroy you! God is with you! These words are for my son Aaron and my daughter Jeru. Yes, you have gone through much in your short life, but God has and will continue to fight for you and conquer those that come against you. These words are for my brothers and their families. These words are for my parents, yes, my parents need to know that they’ve gone through the battles and the storms. People have done so much wrong to you and your family but God is reminding us that in the midst of all the wrong, all the hurt and all the assaults on our family, past and present, God is saying, "This is not for your destruction!"
Amazing! It is awesome to have the Scriptures that tell me of God's plan, that reveal to me God's love, His purpose and His power for me each day. Yes, we enter the battlefield, but we are trained from head to toe. We are never abandoned and never forsaken. God allows us to begin at the starting line and He is with us as we reach the victory at the finish line. God is present when we're pushed down but He is present to lift us up and keep our heads held high. God is present when we cry but he is present when we rejoice! God is ever present in the silence but oh, He is ever present when we put on the music and dance before His presence!
This is not just for my family. This is for you, dear reader, dear brother and sister in the Lord. God knows your past , but oh, how much more wonderful that He is not only with you today and tomorrow but He will be with you in the upcoming years to keep giving you the victory that comes when we trust in His power, faithfulness and love. This is for you if you've gone through the wreckage of a hurtful past. If you have been let down. Whatever you have gone through, do not, I repeat, DO NOT FOCUS on the past. God wants you and me to look ahead because when we keep our eyes on Him we are able to see that we have not been completely demolished.
Trust in the Lord. He is more than good.
He is faithful. He is Lord and He never fails.
Monday, April 24, 2017
By Angeline M Duran Santiago
Being here, I go through the motions. I go from anger to frustration, from feeling alone to being completely lost and no longer knowing what to do. I talk to God and I tell him that at this point in time, everything I ever thought I knew seems terribly small in comparison to what I need to know. I long for words of wisdom to be written upon the clouds but even the clouds are silent. I acknowledge that anything I've ever claimed to know and hold on in regards to my faith and my hope in Christ needs to be strengthened and that I need to adjust my strap and lock on to Him even tighter than ever.
I look around me and the ones that should be fighting with me are laid back as if the dark clouds and the storms cannot touch them. The pain I see others feeling seems invisible to them because it is not a real pain on their own bodies. How, Lord? How can we be so indifferent to the hurts of others when we are commanded to help one another with our burdens and to weep with those that weep? How easily we turn away and pretend the fight is not ours when the battle has knocked on our door and not waited for anyone to answer and open, but it has used force to enter and begin to twirl in our midst.
Victory. You don't want victory! For if you wanted victory you would see what I see, feel what I feel and take your place and fight. If you could understand what is at stake here there would be an attitude to pray, to fight back and refuse to let the enemy to have his way in our lives and in our home. You don't want the victory because you've seen God work it out in our lives too many times before and think it's always going to be the same.
No. This is not the same battle as before. Can't you see we're about to lose so much more than ever before and still, still you won't take your place and lift up your sword!
I fight alone, most of the time. Yes, there are those who have never left my side. But, here, here in our home, why do you leave my alone to face the enemy and to stand against the Goliath of this age? Where is your ability to pray with me, pray with us, and lead us in a word that commands the hosts of hell to flee. You look at me and see how the enemy continues to launch his missiles against us and then you turn to the other side and fall asleep. Asleep. You are tired and complain as if no one else is tired and weary. You have given up and you can't help us fight because you don't want to. You don't want to win this fight. You don't care if there is victory or not because you've become content and conformed to what life has been and regardless of what changes or doesn't change, you certainly will not.
I have no choice but to keep my armor on. God's armor upon me is my only promise to succeed. Lord, I don't know how to face the enemies that come towards me. I am trying the way I thought I knew, but I feel like a child and I surrender completely and ask you to once more, teach me anew and train my hands for war. Fill me with divine wisdom and knowledge to see and understand. Give me words to speak and silence me when I must stay quiet. Lord, strengthen me in my body and in my heart. Strengthen me in my spirit and give me courage to fight on, push through, run and jump and clash against the swords and arrows that come towards my family, towards my home, against my son and against my sanity.
Rise, oh Lord, and take your place near me and with me. My mind hears the whispers that I am alone but I know it is a lie, You are with me like a Mighty Warrior. Arise O God and work in my life and in my situation. The wind dares to say I am defeated, but I know that I am and will never be destroyed as long as I trust in You. Lord, come near and flood my life with your presence. All around me people try to encourage me but their words are empty and I walk away. Your words are life and they give me power to take each step, each day.
Dear God, my heart wants to shout out to the heavens and request the heavenly armies to come and destroy everything that is happening around me. I feel lost without you, Lord, but I know that I know you have not forsaken me. You have not left me to confusion or insecurity. When my mind feels like I can't remember or I've lost track of what makes sense, I remember to meditate upon you and you will keep me in perfect peace.
Tired. So many around me are tired and they put their swords down. Weary and conformed is how so many are because they're ok with life around them. Life hits those around them and because their own bodies are not touched, they resign to living day by day and do not worry. It's not with me, they say, so they don't pray. This is why I say, You don't want victory. For if you did, you would take this attack personally.
Lord, show me how to fight. Train me and teach me how to confront these situations and circumstances in my life. Direct me always. Don't let me fail. Don't let me fall. Keep me close to your heart. Guide me continuously. Lead me. Move through my life and in my life. Use my life, my words, my heart and my entire being for your glory and to magnify your name. Use my life so that when others see what you have done, they will see and say, "What a mighty God we serve!" Be on my side and bring glory to this situation. Be magnified in my life, in the precious name of Jesus, amen.
Monday, March 27, 2017
Written by Angeline M Duran Santiago
I’ve read countless books, listened to hundreds of sermons, attended retreats and searched the scriptures during some of the most difficult times in my life. All the advice in the world ends where God’s Word clearly begins and continues to remind me, “Love. Love one another. Love your neighbor.” In so many heart breaking situations, those verses appear before my eyes. I hear my mom, like an endless echo, “Angie, love, love covers everything. With love all things are possible.” It isn’t anything new. This fact is as ancient as creation yet it continues to challenge the heart that is full of hurt, anger, frustration and disappointment.
Love continues to bang on the door of hearts that are scarred, mistreated, and abused. Love continues to stand at the entrance of our homes while we argue, face misunderstandings, and walk away from one another in heated debates. Love sits on our beds and wonders how long will the silence between husbands and wives continue, and how long will children cry themselves to sleep because of the drama that takes place in their home on a regular basis, even though the sign on their door says, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
It isn’t always easy when the ones you love seem to be the ones to hit you the hardest. It’s also very difficult when you find a church where you want to be a part of and you’re quickly able to identify people that are on a mission to challenge your trust in the Lord. We say, “Hurt people, hurt people” but how long do we use that excuse? If we are people who have surrendered to Christ and it is no longer we who live but Christ in us, then where does this phrase fit? Do we use our past hurts as an excuse to hurt and offend others whenever we are in a bad mood? Some also say, “The church is full of sinners who need a savior.” And I agree. I also believe that Christians, to some degree, should be growing and maturing in the Lord if their heart and mind is truly after seeking and serving the Lord. But, so many know how to play the game, put on the face and give the look so many believe in. Too many are still full of hatred, jealousy, and walking in falsehood. Where is the love that changes and restores?
It is this love that God constantly reminds me that is the greatest weapon in my pocket. When life hurts, love heals. When the family wars against one another, Love brings peace. When the church seems to be a place of hurting in place of healing, Love covers a multitude of sin. Love helps us forgive. Love helps us to do what hurts deep inside. It can be as easy as hugging your child who has spoken harshly at you and God will remind you, “Hug them. Love them.” It can be your spouse who has been cold, distant and cruel no matter how much you try to help them grow in the Lord, and you’ll see those words pop out at you, “Love them like I’ve loved you!”
“Lord, but they keeping on letting me down and breaking my heart!” We cry out with tears in our eyes and our chests heavy with rejection and bruises. “But, I’ve loved you at your worst. I’ve loved you when you rejected my love. I’ve never stopped loving you.” A gentle whisper filled with the warmth of heaven’s embrace gently floods my already brokenness and reminds me that when I was broken, His love, His amazing love, renewed me and healed me.
I imagine the one place the enemy attacks and tries to distract us the most in our homes. It is the place where LOVE should abound the most. We create our families out of our love for one another. Love builds our homes. We invite God into our homes because again, “GOD IS LOVE.” And yet, it is where that ugly devil steps in, unwelcomed to plant discord, strife, misunderstanding, betrayal and sin. God stands every present to remind us that LOVE CONQUERS and OVERCOMES. Holy Spirit floods our homes when we praise the Lord and cry out to the Lord, reminding us that with God’s love in our lives we can do great things. We can forgive, again, and again, and again. We can embrace the offender. We can sit down with the one who has used their tongue like a rotten sword against us and still serve them dinner. We cook for the one who has pushed away. We prepare our homes to be a safe haven for the one who makes us feel unloved, guilty and hated. We season every part of what we do with a LOVE we know that on our own and in our own strength we would never have. God’s Love. God’s amazing love that destroys the works of the devil. God’s love heals, delivers, and restores family and friendships.
That’s the LOVE I hold on to today. I pray the Lord floods your life and your surroundings with that great love so that no matter what comes your way, Love can and will always make a way.
I pray you're blessed. Feel free to leave a comment or a prayer request.