In a few weeks my first child starts kindergarten. I am giddy with excitement and anticipation, but not for reasons one might expect, like one less, small human constantly expressing boredom or a dozen fewer fights to settle between siblings throughout the day. Nope. “Back to school” translates into NEW SCHOOL SUPPLIES!
The sight and smell of fresh crayons yet unbroken, markers and glue sticks yet dried out, spiral notebooks yet scribbled in, folders yet torn in half, pencils yet sharpened down and personalized bookbags yet lost, simply scream, “I’m ready for you, world!” How could anyone not be excited about the beginning of school? Like the Staples commercial, this really is my “most wonderful time of the year”!
I couldn’t help but chuckle after recently reading one particular tip in 5 Ways to Save Big on School Supplies: “leave your kid at home.” A great suggestion for most households, but inevitably, ours would save more if I stayed home and tasked my husband with buying for school. He would be in and out of the store in under five minutes because in his mind, “A pack of notebook paper and a box of No. 2 pencils is all anyone needs, right?”
Gone are the days when a Lisa Frank trapper-keeper and a new pair of white Ked slip-ons made young girls ready to start school. Now, it’s much more complicated, and sadly, a lot more than school supply lists have changed over the last thirty years.
While enjoying plenty of good food and lots of belly laughs with a few girlfriends not long ago, the conversation naturally turned to the imminent school year, especially among those of us about to send a child out into the world of public education for the first time — YIKES! We discussed the ever-expanding school supplies list as well as adjusting to new schedules, new teachers and new environments altogether. Alas, we hit upon the topic, what ifs, our greatest concern.
You know what I mean by what ifs — what if someone bullies my child? What if she hears crude, vulgar language? What if ….
Suddenly, my stomach tightened from fear and its trusty sidekick, anxiety. But God is faithful and reminded me that the what ifs need not control my life, or the life of my children, because He equips us with armor to stand strong and fight the source of our worry and fear. Furthermore, the Holy Spirit lives in us to guide and comfort us, no matter what circumstances or situations lie ahead.
Paul tells us in Ephesians,chapter 6 that yes, there is a battle, but guess what — the victor of the WAR has already been determined. Christ conquered sin and death by shedding His blood on the cross and emerging from the grave on the third day to live and rule forever. Forever. This means Believers in Christ are ultimately winners, too — hallelujah!
Q: So, WHO, exactly, will our children be fighting?
A: The Devil and his evil schemes (Ephesians 6:11).
Think about a schemer — cunning, deceptive, manipulative. Y’all, the Enemy is shrewd. The Old Serpent lies behind the worry and anxiety associated with all those what-ifs, weaving doubt and fear that rocks our faith and robs our joy and peace. Remember, this battle extends far beyond us and our children both in time and in place, including heavenly places ( Ephesians 6:12).
Q: How do we prepare them for battle?
A: Fit them in the Whole Armor of God (v13) and Pray.
When Roman soldiers fought, they wore loose-fitting tunics tucked tightly against the body with belts that held everything needed for protection during battle. In the same way, we can arm them with the Belt of Truth, holding fast to God’s Word by committing to memorize it and to meditate upon it day and night. We must regularly tell our children about God and His precepts and teach them Bible stories, not as myths or fairy tales, but as stories that live and are true.
Help your child put on the Breastplate of Righteousness (v13). The breastplate protects vital organs like the heart and liver. We are sinners, always in rebellion against God. Because of Adam’s sin, we are inherently corrupt, despite the Enemy, who seeks to completely control minds and harden hearts against God. Surrender to God cleanses and changes us so we become more and more like Christ who is good, holy and righteous. Moma, take extra care to guard precious hearts in all things, even those that appear the most innocuous.
Next, shod their feet with the Gospel of Peace (v 15). Roman soldiers wore nails in the bottom of their shoes to help them grip tightly to the soil so they could stand their ground during battle. By rooting in the Word of God, we stand firm, assured that no matter what we face, God is on our side. He has already defeated Satan, which is why Satan tries so hard to defeat all God’s children. This is the Gospel of Peace. This is Good News!
Strap on the Shield of Faith (v 16). A soldier’s shield protected the entire body. A simple, child-like trust in God’s sovereignty and goodness will help thwart the Enemy’s attacks, no matter where he takes aim. Faith protects from temptations and empty promises the Great Deceiver and Father of Lies fires at us.
Then place on their heads the Helmet of Salvation (v17). The helmet protects the head, the command center for our thoughts. Satan destroys with doubt and confusion. Rest in the character of God and trust in His promises for eternal life and victorious life now.
Hand them the Sword of the Spirit (v17), the Word of God. The sword was the only weapon Roman soldiers took into battle. It represented power and authority, bravery and strength. The Bible is your child’s sword, and Scripture is the “secret weapon” against the Enemy, regardless of whatever form he takes to derail and defeat them.
Finally, engage the not-so-secret weapon, Prayer. The Devil flees when we pray in Jesus’ name. Praying aloud the Word of God, Scripture, and calling out to our Heavenly Father causes Satan to retreat. Pray in all circumstances; nothing is too small or trivial to take to the Lord. Teach your children the importance of prayer by praying with them and for them, especially before they head off to school each day.
Momma, it starts with you — like on airplanes, “In the event of an emergency, secure your mask first, before you secure others.” Consciously PUT ON, EVERY DAY, the whole armor of God to prepare for spiritual warfare. Our mission begins at home because our marriages, our children and our own relationships with Christ are under constant attack. Lead by example. Never grow weary of telling your children about Jesus and modeling the suit of God’s armor before them. Believe and trust your Heavenly Father by surrendering your children to His care and protection.
One of my favorite Sunday School teachers never began the lesson without saying, “You wouldn’t go to school without a pencil; you wouldn’t go to battle without your sword.” So true. Hmm. . . Perhaps we should return to the days when people took their Bibles to church.
Before my brother and I left home to go most anywhere, my parents regularly reminded us to remember who we were and most importantly, WHOSE we were. As the first day of school approaches, inventory more than school supplies in those backpacks. Pray and send your children on, equipped in the full armor of God.
Mothers, take heart and take tissues!