Swords & Flat Tires

Swords & Flat Tires

carYears ago a very wise woman taught me two things that completely changed my life. The first was how to give sacrificially and the second was how to pray the armor of God. Rarely a week goes by I don’t think of her and repeat her words over my heart. I can’t imagine what my life would look like if she had not taught me these two important lessons. Every morning, this godly woman prays Ephesians 6:10-19, the armor of God, over her life before her feet hit the floor. I am not as faithful as her to pray it every single morning, but I am learning just how crucial this armor is.

Sometimes, I have a hard time knowing when something is spiritual attack and when I’m just dealing with the consequences of my disobedience. When that happens, I stop and ask the Holy Spirit to show me if and where I’ve been disobedient (Fair warning, He will always answer that request so be ready.) Then, I begin comparing what I’m hearing with the truth of God’s Word because I know the enemy is speaking lies to me and once I see the truth of God’s Word I can recognize the lies for what they are. This isn’t easy for me because the enemy’s lies are really, really deceptive. He plays on all my insecurities, my guilt, my past, my screw-ups. He loves to parade those in front of me waiting for me to throw in the towel and choose to not be who God has made me to be and choose to not obey what He’s told me to do.

Today, the enemy has been roaring in my ears. Matt and I have an opportunity to teach a lesson on financial health to a group of couples starting off their marriages, and last night Matt was approached about teaching a similar type lesson to some other groups. Not two hours later, I am leaving the park where we had met our small group and we discover I have a flat tire. Matt and the small group guys get the spare on only to find out that the spare is flat. Awesome. Our friend Matt May uses a little air pump to get enough air in it so Matt can drive it to the nearest gas station, and this morning he took it to the tire place so they could fix the leak. Only, it isn’t fixable and we need a new tire. Actually, we need two new tires. And honestly, while it’s a bummer to have to spend several hundred dollars on a couple of new tires to replace two that weren’t even that old, my discouragement came because it’s just another thing to hit our emergency fund in a month that has not been friendly to our emergency fund. An unexpected vet bill, dental work that needs to happen, a fence that desperately needs some work, all of that stuff on its own is just stuff. It’s what happens. It’s called life, and everyone goes through it.

But then the lies started coming. I was sitting in the parent waiting room during Lydi’s ballet class and thoughts started swirling, “Who are you to teach on finances when you can’t even finish your emergency fund without something happening? . . . There are so many people who are doing a lot better with their finances than you. You should let them teach that lesson. . . . You’re a failure, and as soon as you open your mouth everyone else will know it too.”

Thankfully, I recognized the lies almost immediately for what they were, but it is still so hard not to believe them. My gracious Lord knew I was going to face this today and He had already shown me the truth in His Word earlier this morning. During my priority time a few hours before, I read 1 Corinthians 1:4-8…

I always thank my God for you because of the grace God has given you in Christ Jesus. I thank God because in Christ you have been made rich in every way, in all your speaking and in all your knowledge. Just as our witness about Christ has been guaranteed to you, so you have every gift from God while you wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to come again. Jesus will keep you strong until the end so that there will be no wrong in you on the day our Lord Jesus Christ comes again.

In Christ you have been made rich in every way, in all your speaking . . . Seriously, God? You blow me away. You knew how the enemy would attack me hours later and this morning you gave me this verse, this truth, this sword to wield today. I don’t go into battle alone, and I don’t go in unclothed. You have wrapped me in your armor and even better you have given me a weapon, my sword, Your Word.

I can’t get over the feeling someone needs to hear those words today. Someone needs to know you aren’t the only one. Someone needs to hear, “Stand firm.” Someone needs to let Ephesians 6:19-20 sink deep within her soul so she can declare the gospel fearlessly. I know one of those someones is me.

Careful

Careful

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.