Thursday, August 30, 2012

On Alert


Monday morning I dropped my boys off at the high school.

Two tall, blue-eyed treasures smiled as they shut the car door, and walked off to join the crowd.  Oh, Dear Lord, "the crowd" ...

... this pressurized peer group, swarming like bees outside the gym doors, waiting to engulf my young men.

I drove away and prayed.

"Dear God, give them sensitivity and courage to keep in step with You ...
Help them stand out in the crowd - not from their own excellence or distinction, but
from Your Spirit that works within them. 

Help them to stand against the crowd - not rebelliously stirring up strife, but
peaceably walking the straight and narrow path that so few will choose.

Help them hear Your voice in the crowded hallways.

Help them know Your truth even as it is crowded out of the curriculum.

Help them find friends amid the crowd - honest, encouraging brothers and sisters
who will walk along side them toward a deeper knowledge of You."

The prayer flowed powerfully from my heart as I spoke the familiar words in the quiet of my mind. These hopes were simply an overflow from the previous days and weeks of surrendered prayer. I've been bathing my children, it would seem, in prayer for this new season.

Bathing ...

I remember one morning a dozen years ago, when the boys were in the bath tub. The light was off, they are fully clothed, and there was no water. That day the tub had become an imaginary deer stand. They had all their camping stuff, some flash lights, a few blankets, and each other. The darkened room and closed shower curtain provided a cozy atmosphere in which to discuss the mysteries beyond.  They whispered to one another about what might be lurking in the tiled darkness. 

"I think I just heard a bobcat!"
"Shhhh! There are snakes out there!"
"When you see a deer, tell me, so I can get ready."
"Oh! I just saw a giant bear!"
"Be quiet, or he'll eat us!"
"Ok, he's gone ... but keep lookin' for lions ..."
"I hope there's not skunks in here."
"Me too, they might spray and stank us up!"

I listened outside the doorway for a moment, snarkily mimed to myself, "Lions and bobcats, and bears - O My!" and then went on about my chores.

A little later, I barged into the bathroom to put away some clean towels. My wildlife-crazed preschoolers believed I was in great peril. So they desperately spat warnings through the peek-hole in the shower curtain: "Mom! You better watch out! There's danger in these woods!"

1 Peter 5:8-9 "Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil ... "

My memories merged with real-time thoughts as I turned the steering wheel to change lanes.

" ... Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour."

It's not the kind of verse that will ever be embroidered on a throw pillow, but it's true. Our enemy is not taking the day off. He is boldly, patiently, deceptively, seeking lives to destroy. I don't want to live in fear. But I don't want to be oblivious to the danger that God says is all around us.

Like delivering the linens in the darkened bathroom, is it with this same attitude of ignorance and dismissal that I go about my business - unconcerned and indifferent towards the scriptural warnings I've been given?

When I imagine that crowd with whom my children will spend their days, I ask the Lord for discernment and wisdom. I pray for courage and discipline to "keep watch and pray."

Be self-controlled.
Be alert.
Stand firm.

And ...
after we bathe, we ...

Get dressed for Heaven's sake!

"Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.

Stand firm then,
with the belt of truth buckled around your waist,
with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and
with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.

In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith,
with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.
Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit,
which is the word of God.

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests alert and always keep on praying!" Ephesians 6:10-18