The Last Defender
Written by Robert Truesdale   
Thursday, 12 September 2013 09:38

                                                                                THE LAST DEFENDER



     My buddy Gary is a landscaper. This afternoon he helped me fill a long section of my front yard with perennials. We stopped at the nursery and picked up a collection of flowers and dug quite a few holes. The project was exhausting, but I’m glad I can check that one off the list of things to do this spring! I was getting pretty sweaty digging the holes in the baking sun. The tangled mass of roots from an old tree didn’t make the chore any easier. It would’ve been so much easier just to move the hole or put the flower right in amongst the spiny roots, but I knew that would mean choking out the growth and splendor of the flowers. As I stood there leaning on the shovel and panting, God spoke, “You know this is the next chapter.” I knew immediately what He was talking about. You see, in life we encounter all kinds of ‘spiny roots’. They may come in the form of sinful habits, bad reactions to hurts put upon us by others, a spirit of bitterness toward someone who wronged us, addictions that arose as our attempts to numb the feelings of boredom, rejection or betrayal, the lust for more money, sex, status, worth, relationships, meaning, and on and on and on. It is a wonderful thing to trust Jesus Christ for your personal salvation. There is no better thing! But after coming to Christ, God spends the rest of our lives working out the ‘spiny roots’ that have accumulated since our birthing day. Some come out easy while others put up quite a fight. The Holy Spirit convicts and reminds us when an attitude, belief or action is contrary to the nature of God. The Word teaches that “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”(Phil.4:13 NKJV) And that means God gives us the power to first see the sinful attitude we are portraying in a given situation or habit, and secondly, the power to overcome it. Some sin we can repent of quickly. Others however, can take years. God is patient.

     That’s not the end of the story, however. I put the shovel down and sat under a shade tree when all of a sudden Gary said, “Hey you forgot one.” I wasn’t amused. I grabbed the shovel and went at it full bore. As soon as I thrust the shovel into the earth I heard a ‘whack’. I hit an immovable object. Gary suggested I dig around it but after all these holes and sore muscles, I was on a mission. I jumped on the shovel but to no avail. As I began to dig around the object it became clear that there was a huge tree root right in the way of my digging. “The last defender,” Gary declared. It took a minute for me to get the jest of what he was saying but eventually I got it. In soccer or hockey, there is always one last person playing defense just in case the other team gets through all the other lines of defense. Hence, the last defender. If you get by them, you score. And they will try like crazy to see that you don’t. All the egg will be on their face if you get by and score. God had a deeper meaning for me, and you. It’s been five years since my divorce. It’s been lonely and very difficult since. There have been many more tragedies since and I have struggled with doubt, loneliness and frustration this whole time. God has used the pain to transform my character. I would not trade that intimacy with Him for anything! He has been able to clear away and cut out lots of ‘spiny roots’ from my character in these trials.  It has been a blessing to me and many others. But as I jumped on the shovel and doggedly cut away at this one last deep stubborn root, the Lord was whispering that this is exactly what He was doing in me. My last defender? The desire to be in control. Fretting, wondering, stressing out, and questioning what God was doing has been my last defender. The verse He has been repeatedly speaking in my ears (and spirit) has been, “Be still and know that I am God.”(Psalm 46:10 NIV) Period! Stop fussing. Stop questioning. Stop trying to get to the end of the story to see how it all works out. Stop losing sleep worrying about it. And most of all, stop trying to take matters into my own hands so I can get my desired result! Control. Friends, it’s just another way of saying I don’t trust that God can work this out to my greatest good (Romans 8:28 NIV). I just don’t trust God enough in certain areas. Do I believe God is going to bring my good friend a job he desperately needs? Yes! Did I believe God could reconcile the marriages of two of my closest friends? Yes, and He did miraculously! Do I believe God forgives all the ridiculous choices you and I make every day? Absolutely! But for each and every one of us, there seems to be an area that we have such a difficult time trusting God that He will work it out in His time, in an incredible way, and that it will be for our greatest good.

     God knows all things. I’m convinced that’s why He added the word “Surely” to Jeremiah 29:11 because He knew we would struggle with doubt, despair and the temptation to take matters into our own hands. It’s just so hard in certain areas to trust our Heavenly Father knows what’s best. Sometimes the situation looks so bleak and hopeless, we see no possible way God could work it out. I think about a 100 year-old man who had been promised that “You will be the father of many nations.” (Gen. 17:4) His name was Abraham. Yes he tried taking matters into his own hands and it failed miserably. Yes He was called to go here and there, having only the command by God to “Go to the land I will show you.”(Gen.12:1 NIV) He suffered. He waited.  Yet God is Lord of the impossible. He is the Lord of lost causes. And He is Lord of all that seems so incredibly hopeless to you and me right now!  “Without weakening in his faith he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead, since he was about 100 years old-and that Sarah’s womb was also dead, yet with respect to the promise of God he did not waiver in unbelief but gave glory to God, being fully assured that what He had promised He was able also to perform (Romans 4:19-21 NAS).

     When all is said and done, it comes down to whether or not we believe in an all-possible God. Yes He answers according to His will, not always ours, but He does answer! God said, Abraham simply believed. Your situation right now seems utterly hopeless and humanly speaking, it is. When God is involved however, nothing is impossible! (Luke 1:37 NLT).  “Don’t be afraid; just believe.” (Mark 5:36 NIV) The context of this statement made by Christ? A little girl had just died and her distraught father came to Him in total grief. Christ looked at him, went upstairs and brought this child back to life! He raised the dead! Imagine what He can do for you and me right now—just believe!