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Careful

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matt with polar bear I’ve always been a careful person. In college when I lived off-campus my last two years, I always left twenty minutes before a class even though I lived less than five miles away. Just in case a train blocked traffic or a parking spot proved elusive or the vending machine needed a visit (I’m a sucker for Peanut M&M’s. Don’t judge.) I carry the scissors with the point downward and safely within my grasp. And I always use my blinkers.

Since writing my last post, I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to be brave, to be dangerous for God. Certainly, I’m not handing my three-year-old my Wüsthof knife and letting her start to chop anytime soon, but I also don’t want to pack her away in bubble wrap.  How do parents walk that tight-rope? How do we teach our kids to be wise and vigilant, knowing the enemy comes to steal, kill and destroy? But at the same time, how do we empower them with boldness and courage?

I’ve been studying Isaiah in my priority time, a favorite for me because the words soar off the page, powerful yet full of grace. This morning I came to focus on Isaiah 7:4. In this chapter, Ahaz is the king of Judah and he and the house of David have just been told that their enemies are now forming alliances. These enemies had already defeated Ahaz individually and now they were collaborating. When they heard the news, Ahaz and his people were afraid. Isaiah says they were “shaken as the trees of the forest are shaken by the wind.” (And maybe a little like my man with this polar bear.) But the Lord had a message for Ahaz, and in verse four, the Lord told Isaiah and his son to go to Ahaz and tell him, “Be careful, keep calm and don’t be afraid.”

Be careful. Keep calm. And don’t be afraid. In the same command God told them to be careful and don’t be afraid. This leads me to believe that the two qualities aren’t mutually exclusive. We can be brave and careful. We can be brave without being careless. We can be suited up in armor but not timid. We can be wise but not lazy. We can be prudent but not selfish.

In our kitchen hangs a shadow box with two medals given to Matt’s late grandfather for his service in WWII. When Papaw went to battle, he went with training and equipment. He was brave certainly, but he was also careful.

I have to teach my girls to be both brave and careful. To clothe themselves in God’s armor but to always remember that armor is useless on its own. It is the courage of the heart inside that gives the armor a purpose.

Be careful. Keep calm. And don’t be afraid. But maybe watch out for polar bears.

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