Switching from offense to defense

My son has played lacrosse for over half of his little life. He received his first helmet for his fifth birthday, and for the next few years, he grew into that bobblehead Stormtrooper look like he was meant for it.  bobblehead

In lacrosse, as in many other sports, there are offensive players, defensive players, and the guys in the middle who do both when needed. He played midfield for a while, liking the constant switch of helping the defense or rushing with the offense. As he matured in the game, he wanted to become more specialized, so he focused on being an offensive player. An attackman plays right in front of the goal and uses opportunities fed from teammates to score. Brady loved playing attack. He watched experts of the game and honed his skills at placing his shots…high to low, low to high, behind the back, aiming at the goalie’s feet…so many tricks to get the ball into the goal. The rush of scoring, the adoration of teammates, the cheers from the crowd…being a hero.

On the other end of the field, the hero is the goalie. Brady has tasted of that sweetness as well, but he wasn’t fond of it. Being pummeled by hard, rubber balls at excessive speeds, repeatedly…and repeatedly feeling angry with himself…wasn’t for him. However, this season, with more maturity, he decided to try being a defenseman. And he loves it. Another noble position on the field. It’s like good vs. evil…with sticks and helmets. Modern-day gladiators.

As I watched him in his games this past weekend, I couldn’t help but connect his actions with life beyond the field. Sometimes we have to switch our positions from offense to defense. We can wait around for opportunities to do good, and then we can be successful in those attempts and rejoice. But there are other times, when we have to have a more defensive stance in our daily lives. “Not today, Satan.”

I hope I will always remember the ferocity I saw in my son as he fought to defend his territory this weekend. Eyes searching around him, directing his teammates to watch out for incoming dangers, stick ready to disarm his enemy, feet always pacing in protection of the goal. He was on guard and prepared to fight.

I want to guard my mind that ferociously. Anxiety creeps in and hangs around for so long that I can forget that it’s ‘playing for the other team’. It stays in my periphery and then settles in so well that I lose track of its presence. Then worries seem like facts, fears seem like realities. And my mind has become home to an enemy. What happened to my defense?

In 2nd Corinthians 10, Paul describes the defensive fight we need to wage.  For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.  We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”  Paul was encouraging his brothers and sisters in ministry to get beyond the outward appearances of their neighbors to focus on widening the spread of God’s love. He warned them that their thoughts were the problem.

“Take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” Like the early church, we often need to defend our spirits from negativity and worry. We need to capture the thoughts before they get too ingrained in our brains. We need to push out the thoughts that don’t belong, like a defending player protects his goal. The goal of our lives is to spread the love of God, and if our goal is inhibited by fear, anxiety, busyness, or other preoccupying distractions, then we will not accomplish our goal. We will be overcome and defeated by those thoughts.

The New Testament church had plenty of opposition, from within and without, but repeatedly, they kept returning to defensive hope, peace, love, and power.

Romans 8:6– For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace.

2nd Timothy 1:7 –For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.

Colossians 3:2 — Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.

1st Peter 1:13 — Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming.

1st Peter 5:8–  Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

There are times to be active, pursuant, assertively making good happen, driving toward the goal of Godliness. But we should also be daily defensive of our minds and hearts. Successful offense relies on dependable defense.

Ephesians 6:10- 13Last of all I want to remind you that your strength must come from the Lord’s mighty power within you. 11 Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand safe against all strategies and tricks of Satan. 12 For we are not fighting against people made of flesh and blood, but against persons without bodies—the evil rulers of the unseen world, those mighty satanic beings and great evil princes of darkness who rule this world; and against huge numbers of wicked spirits in the spirit world. 13 So use every piece of God’s armor to resist the enemy whenever he attacks, and when it is all over, you will still be standing up.

 

Advertisements

Refuge

IMG_4079

We had a fight. The evening was supposed to be a bit of a romantic getaway, and we fought. It sucked (and I rarely use that word). I wanted to talk, he wanted space. I wanted immediate resolution, he wanted immediate sleep. I had a migraine, he had stress. It was a perfect storm.

We were in a hotel, several hours from home. It was too late to go for a mind-clearing drive, and I had no idea where I would drive. He was rolled up in the covers, snoring his nightly medley, and I didn’t want to stay in the room. I needed to get out, get away from him, from the air heavy with disappointment. But where would I go?

I took the book I was attempting to read and left the room. As I walked to the elevator, a sign caught my eye. ‘Area of refuge’ it happily stated in vivid green letters, beside the cautionary red exit sign. What?? Since when do they put those signs up? And where the heck is this proclaimed ‘area of refuge’?

Well, it led to the elevator and the ice machine. A means of escape and a means of cooling off. Refuge.

The mere word ‘refuge’ brought to my mind the old reliable verse, God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble. (Psalm 46:1) And honestly, that comforted me greatly. There’s not always a sign, in fact, there’s rarely a sign, that tells us where to find an area of refuge. But God is our ever-present refuge. He’s our shelter and strength wherever we are. He’s our spiritual sanctuary, our mental fortress, our emotional retreat.

Over and over, this promise is proclaimed…

Have mercy on me, my God, have mercy on me, for in you I take refuge. I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed. (Psalm 57:1)

Keep me free from the trap that is set for me, for you are my refuge. (Psalm 31:4)

As for God, his way is perfect: The Lord’s word is flawless; he shields all who take refuge in him. (Psalm 18:30)

But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you.  (Psalm 5:11)

It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in humans. (Psalm 118:8)

Of course I wanted a tryst with my husband rather than a trial, but perhaps I needed some alone time in my refuge first. I met God in a little booth in the lobby, while sipping my lemon tea and thinking. I spent the time I needed with him in order to be a better mate for the man I would greet in the morning.

There isn’t always a sign, but there is always a refuge.