Today was a beautiful day. The sun was shining, no clouds in the sky finally and warm enough to get outside and do some much needed yard work.
There were leaves left over in the front flowerbed and needed to come out so they wouldn’t smother the emerging plants underneath. The grass in the front had matted leaves too. I pulled out the rake and scraped and scraped until it was all loose and free. Then I went into the garage to dig the mower out from under the piles of Nerf bats, balls, and Tonka trucks that had piled on its top during the winter months. While I was in the garage I grabbed the first pair of gloves I could reach. Blue knit jersey ones with rubber on the palms. They would provide enough coverage for my hands while I mowed.
I checked the gas, added some oil and primed it six times. Pulled the rip cord and to my utter amazement, it started right up!! My front yard isn’t very big, it only takes about six passes with the mower and a quick turn around the flowerbed and it’s done. So then I breezed through the side yard and even did the street section in front of my house and my neighbor’s.
I opened the large side gates and let the sun shine onto the front yard where it gets shaded when the sun is low in the winter months. I could almost hear it breathing in the sunshine and soaking up the nutrients! My yard is looking good, I thought.
But then I turned to the right and saw how overgrown my beautiful rosa rugosa has become. Working on it during the summer months is dangerous. It is completely covered in tiny sharp spines that will ruin your hands. I grabbed my clippers and started whacking out the dead stuff and the suckers that have spouted outside its designated area. Snip, ouch, whack, clip, ouch, ouch! Those knit jersey gloves weren’t enough for the job. They were fine while I was mowing but when it came right down to the tough stuff, I wasn’t prepared.
I went back inside the garage and dug out the good gloves. I have a fabulous pair of calf-skin gloves that even the toughest rosa rugosa won’t get to. That’s what I needed. My hands thanked me, and I got back to my task. Soon the “rough rose” was tamed again and not so rough looking.
Recently, I’ve had some “rough roses” in my life; stuff at work, issues at home, things that make a girl feel like she’s not doing a good job. Situations when a mom feels like anyone could do this job better than her.
I realized while I was cutting my roses that I was having a spiritual “glove problem.” I wasn’t protected from the worldly spines that can pierce my soul. My self-worth does not come from outside factors but from who I am in Christ; who does He say that I am.
When the world says I’m worthless, Christ says I am a new creature. When friends mock my behavior, Christ says I am a reflection of Him. When those I have offended call me names or threaten to tarnish my reputation, He says, “In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
I realized today that I don’t have the protection I need from the world just as my hands didn’t have protection from the thorns. I haven’t put on the whole armor of God lately. From Ephesians chapter 6: “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. (Emphasis mine.)
It’s the shield I have been missing lately. Those flaming darts were getting through my armor and hurting me. They burn, they affect my spiritual outlook on life and I don’t like it.
Taking up the shield of faith has always been hard for me. My faith is weak. I have doubts, and fears. I waver and vacillate one way and the other. I’m easily swayed by voices whispering sweet things in my ear. I know that voice. I’ve heard it all my life and it’s the voice of the enemy.
How do I block out the enemy’s voices? And he has many. I hear his voice in the snacks from the cupboard. I hear his voice inside my head telling me I’m not good enough, I’ll never be thinner, and that I just can’t cope with the circumstances around me. I even hear it voiced over other people’s voices. He sometimes uses those closest to me.
When I’m trying to block out noises at home I turn on my iPod and stick my ear-buds in my ears and crank up the praise songs. I close the door to the sound and get in a quiet place.
I once had a teacher in high school that demonstrated that if you stick your fist into a bucket of water it will displace the liquid. But if you pull your fist out, the water rushes back into the cavity left by your hand. If you want to keep the water level the same you have to replace your hand with a similar sized substance.
I have to do the same thing when I want to block out the devil’s voice. I have to replace his voice with scripture. I turn up the Christian music; I read the Bible and meditate on God’s word. I tune out the devil and listen to my Master’s voice instead.
He is my calf-skinned leather gloves to the rosa rugosas of the world.