While playing soccer yesterday, I hip-checked my 6-year old nephew and sent him flying.
I’m sure it must have looked rather odd to see a grown woman throw a kid to the ground, but he was totally fine. He did, however, look at me with his, “What the heck?” expression, so I shrugged and said, “That was totally legal. Use your butt to protect the ball.”
He promptly got up and stole the ball from me because he is freakishly good at soccer and I was barefoot and limping from earlier when I had kicked his older brother in the shins. This is what aunties are for.
I took the boys for slurpees after our game, and during the 10 minute drive, they learned about more than simply using your butt to knock people over.
First, they learned about flashlight tag. Did y’all ever play this terrifying game? I loved it despite the constant feeling that I was going to wet myself. Now Vander wants to play it for his 9th birthday party.
Hudson informed Vander that “wrestler” starts with a W not an R, because it has a “secret letter.” Earlier, I had told him about silent letters and he was thoroughly weirded out. “Why does it start with a W? That doesn’t make sense. You don’t say Wah-resler.”
Oh Huddy, we know. I didn’t even tell you about the T. And just wait till you learn about bologna and colonel. Stupid English language.
I’m not planning on climbing any rocks any time soon so I couldn’t explain the carabiner part, but I could explain the fish. I told them how right after Jesus went back to heaven, Christians were persecuted so they used the fish symbol like a secret password so they could find other Christians.
Can of worms officially opened.
“What is persecuted?”
Uhhhhh. Uh-oh. “Well, bad people didn’t like Christians and wanted to kill them.”
What did I get myself into? “They felt threatened by them. The king was worried if everyone started worshipping God, nobody would worship him any more. He was afraid he would lose power.”
“Why didn’t the Christians just invite those people to church? Did they have Awana?”
Great question, Huddy. Oh how I love their child-like faith. We arrived at 7 11 at that point, so the boys forgot all about persecution and focused on slurpee flavors instead, but in light of the Oregon shooting, I’m still thinking about our conversation.
Why do people want to kill Christians?
I gave the boys a simple answer, but I wish I had said more.
It’s true that some governments have felt threatened and continue to feel threatened by our allegiance to God (I’m looking at you, China), but it’s more than that. We have an enemy. A very real enemy who is trying, tooth and nail, to tear people from God’s kingdom. On Thursday, we were forced yet again to think about this enemy.
On Friday morning, some of my students hadn’t yet heard the news and I watched their faces twist in shock and anguish as I explained what had happened. We prayed for those who are grieving and for God’s kingdom to grow. We talked about how strange it is that during times of persecution God’s kingdom seems to grow the most.
Why is that?
I wonder if it’s because persecution reminds us why we’re here on earth. Persecution reminds us of the enemy we are facing and the war we are waging. Reminds us that in the grand scheme of things many of our problems aren’t as big as we make them out to be.
We go about our days thinking about our to-do lists, our relationships, our schedules and we get irritated when people or circumstances mess up our plans. At least I know I do.
We completely forget we are battling an unseen enemy who desires to distract us from our purpose. We forget that Peter said, “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8).
We often see our “enemies” as politicians, illegal immigrants, republicans, democrats, Muslims, terrorists, criminals, bosses, bullies, bad drivers, slow baggers, loud talkers, the obnoxious, the annoying, the rude- you get the idea. The “enemy” has human flesh and has become anyone who disagrees with us or inconveniences us or hurts us.
We often forget that the real enemy is one we can’t see and is daily looking for ways to pull us away from God. If we forget about this enemy and this ongoing battle, chances are we’re probably losing it.
How do you “fight” against an invisible enemy who sometimes uses bullets and other times uses television and sports and shopping as his weapons of destruction and distraction? You fight back not with guns and tanks and grenades.
But with Scripture
Lots of love.
Paul was one of God’s most effective soldiers in this battle. He left us with lots of advice on how to fight against the enemy- most famously in his description of the armor of God in Ephesians chapter 6. I have posted the following prayer on this blog before, but in light of Thursday, I’m printing it out again and praying it while I drive to school.
Perhaps you too need a daily reminder of the battle we are fighting.
Armor of God Prayer
Our Father, who art in heaven, I commit this day to you. You are the creator of the universe and of my heart and I need your Spirit today as I, (list what you will face today). I ask for your protection around my heart and my mind as I struggle not against flesh and blood, but against the spiritual forces of evil trying to draw my attention away from you.
I put on the belt of truth and cling to the truths about who you’ve made me to be. Help me today to see myself as you see me. Remind me that I belong to you, that I am your beloved child, your servant, and a stranger here on Earth. Thank you for choosing me, for giving me purpose and a citizenship in heaven. When I make this life all about me, please draw me back to this truth: I am yours and I live for you.
I put on the breastplate of righteousness and confess my unrighteousness. I confess that (list your recent sins). Thank you, merciful God, for your forgiveness and for washing me clean. Open my eyes to the sin lurking in my heart that I am unaware of and strip me clean of it as well. Make me more like you today.
My feet are fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. Fill me with your peace that surpasses understanding and may that peace guard my heart and my mind today.
I take up the shield of faith and use it to deflect the enemy’s attacks. With each lie I am told, I counter it with a truth you have given me. I refuse to believe that (a lie you often fall prey to) and instead, believe that (a truth in God’s word that refutes that lie).
I put on the helmet of salvation to protect my thought-life. I will take all my thoughts captive today and make them obedient to you. Convict me when my thoughts stray, when they are negative, judgmental, slanderous, selfish, or unpleasing in any way. Help me to fixate instead on what is right and true, pure and noble, lovely and praiseworthy. Remind me of the hope I have today because of your salvation; remind me why I am here and how I should think and speak and act so that my life may be pleasing to you, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.
I take hold of the sword of the Spirit, which is your Word, and use it in battle today. May your Word dwell in me richly as I use it to defeat the unseen enemy and live in a way that glorifies you. Please speak to me through the scriptures; reveal more of yourself to me today. Lift my eyes to you and open the eyes of my heart that I might know and love and serve you more.
In your name I pray,