Friday, November 21, 2014

Are You Clothing Yourself In Holiday Attire?

Photo image courtesy of Nataly Lukhanina via 123rf.com
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.
~ Ephesians 6:10-18, ESV ~

It's beginning already.  I'm starting to hear from other parents raising children with special needs who are stressed about the holidays.  Overwhelmingly, their concerns hinge upon strained personal relationships that they are facing this time of year.  It may be the grandparent who has never accepted the adopted child.  It may be the in-laws who blame a child's behavior on poor parenting skills rather than autism.  It may be the aunt or uncle who makes snide comments like clockwork at every holiday dinner.

While we may feel pressed for time as we prepare, we really need to spend an increased amount of time alone with God and fellow supportive believers.  Our Father has some special attire for us to adorn ourselves with ahead of these contentious family gatherings -- the full armor of God.

As you are intentional about quiet time with God, soaking in His word remember how He prepares you in Ephesians 6:10-18:
  • God reminds us that we are not merely dealing with human enemies at a Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner.  Satan uses those who can hurt us the most to do his dirty work.  Remember, then, that you are dealing with the evil one when family strife rears its ugly head.  You don't want the devil to win, so be intentional about how you prepare for these battles.
  • Clothe yourself each day, visualizing the protective gear with which God equips you for these situations.  Imagine putting that helmet of salvation on your head, filling your mind with God's word to protect your thought life.  The belt of truth holds everything together, so never be swayed from what you know is fact.  Protect your heart by doing what is good in the Lord's sight with that breastplate of righteousness.  When you think of shielding yourself with faith, remember that back in the day, warriors would literally soak these shields in water before battle, so that they would instantly extinguish the arrows hurled at them.  Though you may want to exchange hurt for hurt during the holidays, envision yourself wearing those shoes of the gospel of peace.  If you need a weapon, remember again, God's word is your sword.
  • Prayer is critical at a time like this to strengthen you, give you perspective, and keep you on God's path.  Find a like-minded friend who will pray with you regularly and on demand during this season.  Make certain that you both spur one another on to do what is right in the sight of the LORD.  Commiserating is fine, but don't remain there or deteriorate into ways to get even.  God sees your relationships.  Vengeance is His alone.  Encourage one another in prayer to do the next right thing.   
If you don't have a friend to pray with, we at Snappin' LOVE to  pray for people.  I often boast of having one of the most activated, caring prayer teams in special needs ministry.  These warriors secretly and confidentially pray for every need and request of our parents and their precious families.  Just shoot us an e-mail at barb@snappin.org, and we'll be happy to unite with you in praying.

So here's your holiday fashion checklist for dealing with tough relatives or difficult people this time of year:
  1. Am I being intentional about spending time in God's Word?  Am I reading passages like Psalm 73 or Jesus' words from each Gospel to fortify myself, remembering Who wins?
  2. Am I staying aware of my thought life?  Rather than obsessing with if-then scenarios or fantasizing about how I will have a good comeback for snarky comments, am I taking every thought captive and making it obedient to Christ as 2 Corinthians 10:5 urges?  
  3. Am I praying with a like-minded friend on a regular basis?  Are we spurring one another on to do the next right thing, encouraging and strengthening one another?  Are we praying for those who offend us?  Am I sharing my concerns with dedicated prayer warriors like Snappin's team?
If your answer is "Yes" to everything on this checklist, then you can be assured that you will be the best dressed at any holiday party, dinner or visit.  Take heart, friend!  God's got you covered!

PRAY:  Father, thank You for reminding me who and what I am fighting during this most holy time of year.  Thank You for giving me everything I need to stand firm in Your goodness in grace when I face these battles.  Holy Spirit, when I get caught up in comments or circumstances, gently remind me to use the tools You have so graciously given me. 

~ Barb Dittrich 

*You may also find helpful "'TIS THE SEASON FOR DYSFUNCTION: Family and Friends Edition"

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