Last week, I hugged nine little people for the very last time as they left our bible study class. They arrived in September as tiny, timid two-year-olds and left rather rambunctious, unruly threenagers.
After our last quiet time (a time set aside for being still, silent, and prayerful), one sweet soul got up from the floor, walked directly over to another soul on the other side of the room, and kicked the tar right out of that friend.
I think it’s safe to say Jesus did not whisper KICK THAT ONE in that friend’s ear. Or any ear. Ever.
The toddler and I stepped out into the hall to chat with Jesus.
I reminded this Sweet Soul Jesus wants us to love and be kind to others and that kicking someone is not loving or kind. Then I prayed for us both asking the Holy Spirit to give us some really ripe fruits of the spirit.
When I asked my friend if they had prayed with me, asking Jesus for help to love our friends, the response was a flat NO. Would you like to pray again? NO. Do you know why we’re asking Jesus to help us be kind? NO.
So clearly, we made a real difference.
Yesterday, I took Skillet for a haircut. As per usual with him, he decided to bring a present to the person who would cut his hair. It’s rarely the same person twice but that doesn’t really matter to him. He grabbed a gift bag out of the stash in my closet, put a kite he’d been working on for two days (complete with a tail) in the bag, and began jumping up and down with excitement.
That kid. He loves to give gifts.
Last week, he assembled small Lego sets, created and colored his own instruction manual, put all the pieces and instructions in plastic baggies, and then wrapped them in more of those gift bags in my closet. The week before that, I’d spent a morning blowing up balloons for each kid in his class. He created a checklist with their first initial, then he’d write that letter on their balloon, and check them off the list. We walked up to the school with a bag full of balloons. The week before that, he picked out books from his room to give his classmates.
So on and so forth.
Initially, the moms weren’t too sure about this. He was giving away a lot of stuff! But I assured them it was fine, this is what he loved to do, and he absolutely wanted them to have it.
When he gave his hairstylist the gift bag, she was overjoyed. She’s cut his hair several times so she might be the one person in the salon who remembers Skillet and his every-other-month cut. He explained to her exactly what the handmade craft was, “A kite to fly!” and she just beamed. I watched as she got a bit teary, turning the world’s most useless kite over in her hands. She said, “I was just thinking about a kite! I used to love to fly kites when I was a kid. I’ll hang this in our break room for all of us to enjoy!”
Skillet looked like he was going to burst with happiness.
Lately, my mind has been spinning on this idea about the voices we listen to in our lives. Our friends and family, sure. Teachers, pastors, politicians, the random “friend” on social media. Christian speakers and authors. Bosses, teammates, coaches.
And I wonder why we chose to listen to one over another. How do we decide this person has the authority to speak on this topic? And then the flipside, how do we decide to disregard what someone else says?
How does our culture, who we follow on social media, denomination, volunteer hours, neighborhood, how does all the stuff we do or read or hear influence our thoughts and actions?
Best guess? Too much. But should they have that much sway over us?
Kinda reminds me of something my boss used to say…
“Question authority. Just raise your hand first.”
These two stories, one of a precious toddler kicking and one of my kid giving, they’ve been whacking against each other in my head. Like rams battling to find out who is the stronger, I question who was speaking into their little ears and which voice was stronger.
As much as I don’t like this idea, I feel certain the toddler popped up from their prayer spot determined to kick someone because the liar whispered that in their ear. Do I like the thought that the enemy is lurking around our bible study classroom waiting for the chance to manipulate a toddler? No. But I know the action was out of character for that child and I know there was nothing to provoke it either.
However, I kinda love the idea that Jesus whispered to my son’s heart to make a kite for a sweet lady who works an absolutely thankless job. And I adore thinking He reminded her about kites in preparation to receive Skillet’s gift.
But the truth is if I love and believe one then I have to make space to accept and believe the other.
If Jesus speaks good to us then the enemy speaks evil to us as well.
Somewhere along the way, we got super comfortable with toddlers and kids and Baby Boomers and Millennials and every single group of people acting a certain way because of _______ (fill in the blank). Right?
We disregard one as typical toddler behavior and we disregard the other as being Skillet’s love language (which it is) and in doing that, we miss the very real, very important spiritual battle around us.
And I think it’s time we raised our hands and question our despiritualized views on the things of this world.
We need to ask for eyes to see how true it is that satan prowls like a lion waiting to attack. It’s time to acknowledge he will use even the people we value as the sweetest and most innocent to disorient us, make us angry, cause us to treat each other with selfishness and suspicion. We forget how much the liar wants us to hurt others using our own words and actions and how much he wants to hurt us with an unexpected kick in the gut from someone on the other side of the room.
And I believe we are just as likely to miss God in the good too. It’s luck or coincidence or part of someone’s personality. Those are the moments when we strip God of His sovereignty, remove Him from our every day, walking around, eating, sleeping, going to work life, and deny the uncreated Creator specifically designed our personalities to be used for His kingdom.
We dismiss the spiritual battle with quips about behavior or luck and we never question it.
The best news is we can change. We get to decide to invite the Spirit to join us in the battles and show us His work in the beautiful. Raise our hands and question Him on who’s doing the speaking around us.
Let Jesus be the one voice speaking into our lives. And put the other voices, including the enemy, in their proper place…crushed under your feet.