When I was a child, my dad taught me skills to help me stay safe in a world that can be chock full of dangers. His protective side was especially evident as I journeyed through my teen years. Always lock the car door. Don't drive alone at night. Steer clear of neighborhoods with higher crime rates. Don't answer the front door unless you know who is on the other side. Don't let a stranger on the phone know when you are home alone. These were only a few of the lessons he ingrained into me.
I didn't mind. I may have rolled my eyes a few times at messages he repeated over and over. But I knew this was his love language to me. They told me how much he desired to protect me from harm. In my mind, I can still hear his footsteps making their nightly round as he buttoned up the house and made sure all the windows and doors were locked. It was a tangible way he showed his love to our family.
I know much of his attention to safety arose from personal experiences he had in his younger years. Because he had encountered times when his own safety was jeopardized, he was all the more diligent to protect his own little flock. How I wish I could have the opportunity to tell my dad how grateful I am for watching over me, and empowering me to navigate safely on my own.
I have another Father who speaks in the same love language. He tells me what to look out for, and what to avoid at all costs. His concerns for me are much grander than my physical safety. Some days, His words jump right off the page and into my spirit with such clarity, they take my breath away. And I have to pause. And listen up.
"Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be of courage; be strong. Do everything in love." (~1 Corinthians 16:13,14)
I meditate on these words. As I read them over and over, His message to me sinks in and takes root.
Be on your guard ~ Guard against negative thinking, time-wasters, and those who pull me down and lead me off track. Guard against old habits and self-defeating attitudes. Guard my heart and what I allow in. Put up a guard against false teachings and other deceptions. Guard my words and the messages I convey.
Stand firm in the faith ~ My faith is the foundation on which I stand. It empowers me to stand when circumstances threaten to knock me down. My faith calls me to take a stand, and stand up for what is right. In a world of unknowns, my faith is my one "constant". When I'm not standing on faith, I don't have a leg to stand on.
Be of courage ~ A spirit of discouragement likes to bully me. But I don't have to listen to the messages it doles out. These three little words instruct me to do the opposite. Be encouraged! Be hopeful. Have an optimistic outlook. Stay positive. Then go out and encourage others.
Be strong ~ Get energized! Get excited about this season and all it holds. Exercise my muscles ~ spiritual, emotional, intellectual, physical, and relationship muscles need daily workouts to be strong and effective. Like the slogan says, "Just do it!"
Do everything in love ~ The ribbon on the package that holds it all together is love. I want love to be the heartbeat of my daily round that dictates all I say and do. Love for God, love for others, love for myself, love for my life. Just this morning I was reminded of how easily words can flow out of my mouth that are completely void of this powerful commodity. I want to do everything, and speak everything, in love.
Memories of my dad and his protective nature are so sweet and precious to me. So is the knowledge that my Abba Daddy is always looking out for me, teaching me the better way to go. May I always have a teachable heart.
"Keep and guard your heart with all vigilance and above all that you guard, for out of it flow the springs of life." ~Proverbs 4:23
"He who guards his mouth and his tongue keeps himself from troubles."