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Glory Days

October 2016
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glory-days_sub-banner-936x243More often than not, when we think of “Glory Days” we are looking back at our lives–perhaps during our high school years or maybe highlights in college if we attended college. Back in 1984, Bruce Springsteen (also known as The Boss) had a mega hit song that has endured the test of time titled, Glory Days (You Tube Video at this link), recorded on his seventh album titled, Born in the USA.” The story behind the song can be read at this link. It is a song about the “glory days” of the past.

UrbanDictionary.com defines “glory days” as follows:

A certain time. Where you reminisce the good old days. When everything was easy. You didn’t have any worries in the world. No bills, no debts, nothing. Something to look back to and think “Man, I miss them days”. Going down nostalgia lane and reminiscing your school days maybe, or just aching for one last moment to visit your first girlfriend’s house, or the house where you grew up. The memories will never die. They will always remain in your heart. (Quote source here.)

Last October (2015) I drove back to my hometown in Iowa from Orlando to attend my youngest nephew’s wedding. Due to circumstances, I had not been back in several years but I have not yet missed a family wedding, and I wasn’t about to let unemployment and living in hotels while looking for affordable housing on my Social Security income stop me this time. So I drove my eleven-year-old car (it’s twelve years old now), 1500 miles one way in 29 hours with a 3-hour sleepover at a rest stop in Illinois, and I arrived in Iowa a week before the wedding. (I took a southern route back to Orlando that added another 2000 miles to the trip.) While my dad made plans to have a few maintenance things done on my car while I was there, I had a couple of days to drive around my hometown of Des Moines, Iowa, before the shop got my car for several days to get the work done before the wedding.

The last time I had my own car to drive around my hometown was in June 1992 at which time I left Des Moines to drive to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to begin a one-year doctoral fellowship I was awarded for the 1992-93 academic year. After I moved to Fort Lauderdale, when I returned to Iowa for visits I took a plane to see family, and I was at their disposal as to whether or not I could see the sites I was interested in seeing since they had the wheels. However, this time I had my own car. There were no specific “glory days” that I reminisced about as I drove around my hometown and past my old high school and the house and neighborhood where I grew up before my parents’ split up when I was 12. However, memories came flooding back to me of those years from so very long ago. I also drove by the elementary school I attended, and the junior high (now called middle school) which is right by the high school.

I visited the cemetery where my maternal grandmother, one of my aunts, and my mother are buried; and I drove around the cemetery where my stepmother and stepbrother are buried, and where swans and ducks swim around in a small pond. I drove through a park where a bunch of my friends and I hung out in the summer time during our high school years. And I drove around the “haunts” in West Des Moines that my high school friends and I also frequented. One of my best friends from way back then died of cancer a few years ago. We once rode together on a rented bicycle built for two through back streets that are now major roads with lots of traffic. And I drove through areas of town that had vastly changed due to the suburban sprawl and population growth in the northwest and west side of the city. In fact, they had changed so much some areas were hardly recognizable, but other areas looked like they has stood still after all this time, too.

I drove by the house where my first love interest lived when I was the ripe old age of 16. While the love was unrequited, he ended up dropping out of high school two months before graduation, and he was drafted and send to Vietnam to fight in one of the most unpopular wars in our nation’s history. At some point he went AWOL, and from what I understood back then, he was never quite the same after he came back. The trip down memory lane was bittersweet with both good and not so good memories (which is likely true for most of us revisiting the past). I’m glad I went back and had this time to reminisce. But “glory days” they were not. I tend to think it is mostly prom queens and football stars who are the folks who look back on “glory days.” But the rest of us? Maybe not so much. At the least, they are likely overrated.

However, there is another way to look at “glory days,” and that is in the future and not the past. One of my favorite Christian authors (and I have many favorite Christian authors from over the years) wrote a book titled, Glory Days (2015), which is one of the many books he has written over his career as senior pastor at Oak Hills Church in San Antonio, TX, and as a New York Times bestselling author. His name is Max Lucado, and over the years over 120 million readers including myself have found inspiration and encouragement from his many writings. This particular book, aptly titled Glory Days,” speaks of the glory days yet to come.

One of the endorsements for this book comes from Mark Batterson, New York Times bestselling author, and lead pastor at National Community Church. He states:

In classic Lucado style,Glory Daysunpacks what it means to know that God fights for you–and how that knowledge will change every part of your life. This is a message the Church needs and a reminder every believer can use.

Greg Laurie, senior pastor at Harvest Christian Fellowship; founder of Harvest Crusades, and author, states:

Max Lucado has done it again! In his new book,Glory Days,” Max is encouraging a generation of Christians to live out their inheritance, to fight from victory, and to take God at his word. Max reminds us of all that we have in Christ and the necessity of faith and obedience in the face of trials and difficult circumstances.

The book is filled with many inspiring stories, but the one I want to share is found in the last chapter, Chapter 16, titled, “God Fights For You,” citing Joshua 23 as the passage to read and is referred to in the story. Here’s the story (pp. 173-178, 181):

isaiah-43v19Nadin Khoury was thirteen years old, five foot two, and weighed, soaking wet, probably a hundred pounds.

His attackers were teenagers, larger than Nadin, and outnumbered him seven to one.

For thirty minutes they hit, kicked, and beat him.

He never stood a chance.

Khoury’s mom had recently moved the family to Philadelphia from Minnesota. She had lost her job as a hotel maid and was looking for work. In 2000 she escaped war-torn Liberia. Nadin Khoury, then, was the new kid in a rough neighborhood with a mom who was an unemployed immigrant–everything a wolf pack of bullies needed to justify an attack.

The hazing began weeks earlier. They picked on him. They called his mother names. They routinely pushed, shoved, and ambushed him. Then came the all-out assault on a January day. They dragged him through the snow, stuffed him into a tree, and suspended him on a seven-foot wrought-iron fence.

Khoury survived the attack and would have likely faced a few more except for the folly of one of the bullies. He filmed the pile-on and posted it on YouTube. A passerby saw the violence and chased away the bullies. Police saw it and got involved. The troublemakers landed in jail, and the story reached the papers.

A staffer at the nationwide morning showThe Viewread the account and invited Khoury to appear o the broadcast. He did. As the video of the assault played on the screen behind him, he tried to appear brave, but his lower lip quivered. “Next time maybe it could be somebody smaller than me,” he said.

Unbeknownst to him, the producer had invited some other Philadelphians to appear on the show as well. As the YouTube video ended, the curtain opened, and three huge men walked out, members of the Philadelphia Eagles football team.

Khoury, a rabid fan, turned and smiled. One was All-Pro receiver DeSean Jackson. Jackson took a seat on the couch as close to the boy as possible and promised him, “Anytime you need us, I got two linemen right here.” Khoury’s eyes widened saucer-like as Jackson signed a football jersey and handed it to him. Then, in full view of every bully in America, he gave the boy his cell phone number.

From that day forward Khoury has been only a call away from his personal bodyguards. Thugs think twice before they harass the kid who has an NFL football player’s number on speed dial.

Pretty good offer. Who wouldn’t want that type of protection?

Joshua did. Brutal and bloodthirsty enemies occupied the Promised Land. Joshua’s men were untested. His leadership was unproven. Yet in spite of the odds, God guaranteed the conquest. “No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you” (Joshua 1:5).

It was as if God told him, “Jericho has its thick, tall walls? True, but you have me. The Amorites have home-field advantage? They do, but you have the King of heaven on your side. The enemies have more chariots, experience, and artillery? Yes, they are strong, but I am stronger still. And I will not leave you or forsake you.”

God gives you the same promise. In fact, the writer of Hebrews quoted the words in his epistle: “For [God] has said, ‘I will never leave your or forsake you.’ So we can say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can anyone do to me?” (Hebrews 13:5-6, NRSV).

That last question is a troubling one. “What can anyone do to me?” You know the answers. “Lie to me.” “Deceive me.” “Injure me.” “Terrorize me.” “Bully me.”

But the Scripture asks a different question. If the Lord is your helper, what can anyone do to you?

The Greek word for “helper” in this passage is “boetheia,” from “boe,” which means “a shout,” and “theo,” which means “to run.” When you need help, God runs with a shout, “I’m coming!” He never leaves you. Ever! He never takes a break, takes a nap, or takes time off for vacation. He never leaves your side.

The job market is flat? True. But God is your helper. You blood cell count is down? Difficult for sure, but the One who made you is with you. The world is rife with conflict? Indeed it is. Still, the Almighty will never leave you or forsake you.

Consequently, everything changes! Since God is strong, you will be strong. Since he is able, you will be able. Since he has no limits, you have no limits. With the apostle you can boldly say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” (Hebrews 13:6).

But there is more. The biggest–and best–news of Joshua is this: God not only stays with you . . . he fights for you.

Not only does God desire that you live the Promised Land life, but he fights for you so you can. This was the main point of Joshua’s victory speech. Envision the commander as he stands before his army to deliver one of this final messages.

“I am old,” he begins, “advanced in age . . . [This] day I am going the way of all the earth” (Joshua 23:2, 14). He was 110 years old when he died (Joshua 24:29), so he must have been nearly that age as he spoke.

He has a rush of white hair and a chest-length beard. His back is stooped, but his voice is strong. He stands on a rock and looks out over a valley full of faces. When he lifts his hand to speak, their voices fall silent. He lead them out of the wilderness, through the Jordan River, into Canaan. When Joshua speaks, they listen.

Joshua has seen every significant moment of the last half century. “You have seen all that the Lord your God has done,” he announces to his soldiers (Joshua 23:3).

Oh, the stories they could tell. The Jordan River opened, and the Jericho walls fell. The sun stood still, and the enemies scattered. The Hebrews inhabited farms they did not plow. They ate from the vineyards they did not plant. And Joshua in his final words wants to make sure they have gotten the message: “The Lord your God is He who has fought for you” (Joshua 23:3).

The Hebrews took the land not because of their skill but God’s. Throughout the book of Joshua, God does the fighting.

In his call to battle Joshua told his men, “Go in to possess the land which the Lord your God is giving you to possess” (Joshua 1:11).

Then again: “The Lord your God is giving you rest and is giving you this land” (Joshua 1:13).

On the eve of the Jordan crossing, Joshua declared, “The Lord will do wonders among you” (Joshua 3:5).

As they stood on the western side of the river, Joshua deduced, “The Lord your God dried up the waters of the Jordan” (Joshua 4:23).

On the outskirts of Jericho “Joshua said to the people: ‘Shout, for the Lord has given you the city!'” (Joshua 6:16).

The entire narrative reads like this: God claiming, God giving, God defending. Joshua summarized the victory by saying, “For the Lord has driven out from before you great and strong nations, but as for you, no one has been able to stand against you to this day. One man of you shall chase a thousand, for the Lord your God is He who fights for you, as He promised you” (Joshua 23:9-10).

Don’t you love the image? “One man of you shall chase a thousand.” I envision a single Hebrew soldier with drawn sword racing after an entire battalion of enemies. He is outnumbered a thousand to one, but since God fights for him, they scatter like scared pigeons.

I picture the same for you. The Amorites of your life–fears, dread, hatred, and hurt–come at you like a legion of hoodlums. Yet rather than run away, you turn and face them. You unsheathe the promise of God’s Word and defy the enemies of God’s cause. You are a grizzly and they are rats. “Get out of here, shame! Begone, guilt! Fear of death, regrets of the past, take your puny attacks elsewhere.”

This is Glory Days living. You were not made to quake in fear. You were not made to be beholden to your past. You were not made to limp through life as a wimp. You are a living, breathing expression of God. What’s more, he fights for you.

Is this a new thought? You’ve heard about the God who made you, watches you, directs you, knows you . . . but the God who fights for you? Who blazes the trail ahead of you? Who defends you? Who collapses the walls, stills the sun, and rains hail on the devil and all his forces?

Did you know that God is fighting for you? That “with us is the Lord our God, to help us and to fight our battles” (2 Chronicles 32:8)? That “our God will fight for us” (Nehemiah 4:20)? That the Lord will “fight against those how fight against [you]” (Psalm 35:1).

“God fights for you.” Let those four words sink in for a moment.

“God.” The CEO, President, King, Supreme Ruler, Absolute Monarch, Czar, Emperor, and Raja of all history. He runs interference and provides cover. He is impeccably perfect, tirelessly strong, unquestionably capable. He is endlessly joyful, wise, and willing. And he . . .

“Fights.” He deploys angels and commands weather. He stands down Goliaths and vacates cemeteries. He fights . . .

“For.” For your health, family,  faith, and restoration. Are the odds against you? Is the coach against you? Is the government against you? Difficult for sure. But God fights for . . .

“You.” Yes, you! You with the sordid past. You with the receding hairline. You with the absentee dad. You with the bad back, credit, or job. He fights not just for the rich, pretty, or religious. He fights for the yous of the world. Are you a “you”?

The big news of the Bible is not that you fight for God but that God fights for you. And to know this–to know that your Father fights for you–is an unparalleled source of empowerment . . . (Source: “Glory Days,” pp. 173-178).

. . . This is God’s goal for you. This is your inheritance: more victory than defeat, more joy than sadness, more hope than despair.

These are the Glory Days (Source: “Glory Days,” p. 181).

Our glory days are not in the past but in the future. As Lucado mentions above–whether your enemies are internal, such as “fears, dread, hatred, and hurt,” or external such as “the odds, the coach, the government” or any other physical enemy; or a combination of both as in “your sordid past, your receding hairline, your absentee dad, bad back, credit or job;” if you throw the whole weight of your being on God and trust him completely to fight your battles (Proverbs 3:5-6), He will, and you won’t have to fight them at all.

If you’re in need of encouragement, I hope these words from Max Lucado encourage you to rely totally on God in the midst of your trials and circumstances. And as Proverbs 3:5-7a (MSG) reminds us to do: Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track . . .

Don’t assume that you know it all . . .

Run to God . . .

And run from evil . . . .

YouTube Video: “Let God Be God” by Phillips, Craig & Dean:

Photo #1 credit here
Photo #2 credit here

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1 Comment

  1. nhiemstra says:

    Sara, another excellent post. I also love to reminisce. But fortunately, I live much closer to my hometown (2 hr drive). And, I have always enjoyed a good read from probably the most prolific Christian author, Max Lucado. As he explains, his message has always been the same: “God loves you; let him.”

    Like

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