Under His Banner...Or Lessons From Jenny Mc...

"Under the banner of God, victory is always assured; but apart from it, defeat is a certainty. When the banner of God's rod was not held high, Amalek prevailed.
You can't do battle against the flesh under your own power."

~ Kay Arthur ~

Lord, I Want to Know

Loni at Finding Joy in the Morning is hosting In Other Words today, and she has selected this quote from Kay Arthur. God seems to be reminding me of this truth everywhere I turn lately...probably because, like the children of Israel, I keep forgetting it. The verse this quote references is Exodus 17:15..."The Lord is My Banner."

I am reminded by this of a lesson God taught me in a very powerful way years ago. Close friends had a daughter who was born blind and profoundly retarded. Jenny was almost my age, but never walked, talked, or even took care of any of her own needs. She was completely dependent upon the care of others. 

Although her needs eventually forced them to place her in a state facility, her parents were completely committed to caring for her as much as they were able. Almost never did a day go by that her family did not visit, reading the Bible to her, singing to her, massaging her limbs, and talking to her about any and everything. Their love for her was evident to everyone who knew them.

Her parents were an example to everyone around them. Strong, committed Christians, they were used by God to witness to many unbelievers and to encourage many believers. They were like family to us, and they taught me many things, through example and words, that still impact me today.

When I was about 16, though, God very suddenly used Jenny herself to make a huge impact on my life. I was struggling with something...I'm not even sure what at this point. I was also dealing with a lot of stress from trying to manage school, church commitments (lots of them), a hectic babysitting schedule, and family responsibilities. I remember sitting at my desk one morning during my quiet time expressing my frustration to God because I just *couldn't do it*. I was tired of failing. I was tired of missing the mark. And suddenly God brought Jenny to mind.

He reminded me of all the people whose lives Jenny had touched. He reminded me of all the people her parents had influenced, and of the testimony of her father, one of the godliest men I know, about the way that God used Jenny's birth to bring him to Himself. He gently showed me that Jenny's life had had more impact than most people ever dream of having...and yet she had never uttered a word, taken a step, or written a sentence. I realized in a whole new way the truth of 2 Cor. 12:10:

2 Corinthians 12:10
That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

I realized that day that Jenny was exactly where God wanted me to be....completely dependent. God began teaching me that day that He was able to use Jenny so mightily because she didn't get in the way of what He wanted to do in and through her. He reminded me through her that when I try to do things *on my own*, I am simply getting in His way. 

Only when I am completely dependent on Him am I useful to Him, and only then can He do His work through me. Just as He used Jenny's family and the staff at the Center to meet her needs, He brings people into my life to help meet my needs (as Aaron and Hur lifted up Moses' arms in Exodus 17). And just as He used Jenny's parents and the staff to meet those needs, He wants me to be available to lift up the arms of others when they need it. But most of all, He wants me to be completely dependent on Him.

I needed to be reminded of this again this week. Once again, I have struggled with feelings of failure...feeling as though no matter how hard I try, I can't *get it together*. Once again, God is reminding me that *He* is my banner...that as this quote says, victory is only assured through Him, and when I try to do it on my own, I am assured only of defeat. When I start to feel failure overtaking me, I need to get back under His banner.


For a real blessing, a dose of encouragement, some good laughs, and maybe a few tears, visit one of my favorite websites. James McAlister, or "Mr. James", is Jenny's dad, and for a number of years he wrote  a much-loved newspaper column. This site archives many of his newspaper articles and other items of interest. ( This one , this one, and this one
are *especially special* to me...they are about my parents. :) You might want to grab a kleenex before reading, though.) There is much good reading there...take some time to browse his site...I think you'll be glad you did!


Butterfly Kisses said...

WOW. What a wonderful post and uplifting story. You are right, Jenny was able to be used by God in the way He had planned for her, because she didn't get in His way. Oh, how I try to take control way too often and how I need to be still and be like Jenny, give God the reigns.

Emmyrose said...

It is true that God teaches through other people's experiences. God bless and thanks for commenting on my entry.

Angie said...

I normally write a post for this one, but I had worked on a post last night (drawing straws) for so long my brain was numb. Today, I decided just to read and nourish my spirit through the others that had written in.
I have never been so touched as I was when I read your post. You are so right...He wants us to be as dependent on Him as Jenny is on others. Looking to Him for every detail of our lives.
Bless you for being so uplifting today!

Mrs. Pharris said...

What a touching post. God bless you, and Jenny's family. What a reward is hers in heaven!

Rosemarie said...

God's lessons are all are around us!

You displayed a teachable spirit at a young age to hear God, and respond.

It seems Jenny is a miracle and blessing many in her path with God's goodness.

Blessings as you continue to trust in God's plan and desires for your life specifically.

"If God brings you to it, He'll bring you through it!"

Heavenly Voice

LisaWA said...


I will browse Mr. McAlister’s site.... and I’m so glad I found yours....

What a Blessing this post was to me.... words I needed to read and hear.... Scripture that was typed just for me.... that’s what it seems like...

Thank you for sharing your heart!


PS. I stumbled upon your blog through Smooth Stone Academy *Ü*