My inbox is full of Sparklies:
Vintage dresses are on sale for $79! The replacement for my broken rice cooker is on sale for $50 off! The replacement tennis shoes for the pair I have thoroughly worn out since 2003 is about half-off this week. Good things. It is the most wonderful time of year, after all! Not to mention… every other thing!
Then there’s all these great new opportunities with my church and the women’s group from my daughter’s school… after what seemed like a drought, now there is a flood of Bible studies and small groups. Plus, there’s all these great kid-activities opening up like library trips and swim lessons and music classes. Same for me! I am so hungry for life and community again that I want to do these things… all of them!
Then there’s all the needs that I can fill! I can make her a meal! I can totally lead that group! I can be homeroom mom! I can write the book! I can serve at the shelter to pass out the meal! I can invite her over since she doesn’t have family here! I can do it… all of it!
When you put down all the “good” things in one place on paper, it’s plain as day! Too much of a good thing is not a good thing. (Enter the Costco-sized box of ripe delicious pears… Yes. Eating all of those… mmm. Not pretty.) Let’s look at our previous list as examples:
- Finances: If I entertain even 1/3 of these sparkling sales, it’s not good. If I give into that feeling of urgency that this is the only time of year that these sales will happen… well. That’s asking for debt. Debt on account of trying to save money. How sneaky!
- Activities: If I say yes to even 50% of these opportunities, then you’re looking at burn-out in just a few weeks. Maybe some of you could last a couple months. Burn-out on account of seeking life-giving community. How sneaky!
- Service: If I say yes to all the needs that tug on my heart, then I have run dry on finances and time and energy by the time it comes to my own family and guests. Then I am poured out by the time comes to serve the people in my life who take priority. Not just my family here, but God as well. The sheep who are in my care daily are the ones I make the biggest impact on. And in the name of serving others, all I can offer my sheep is the stressed out, exhausted and frazzled me. How sneaky!
Recently, I was talking with a friend about this lately. Our cluttered closets and cluttered schedules. She told me about the shields men used in battle back in the day. They were large shields and covered them from head to toe with an opening in front of their eyes to see through. They linked arms and became like a wall as they advanced in unity. The flaming arrows that are mentioned in places like Psalm 91, those are what the enemy used in battle very strategically. The arrows were lit with fire and then sent over at the advancing line of men in armor. My friend told me that those arrows weren’t going to do anything physically to the men. They can’t penetrate the shield. They don’t have much physical power in that way.
So why would the enemy use flaming arrows? To DISTRACT. Men had a small opening and needed to keep their eyes fixed ahead, marching forward as one toward the enemy. Imagine a bunch of flaming arrows now sent into your line of sight. I’d be looking around left and right, up and down. I’d be thrown off and disoriented. I’d probably momentarily forget what I’m even doing there! Imagine it! Oh wait. You live it!
Every time the sparkly fliers come in the mail. The instant pot. The Uggs. The tablet. Every time you get another good request to attend a party, an outing, a function. Every time you are invited to volunteer. Tell me. Are you already feeling distracted? Sooooo sparkly. Fire is soooo beautiful, isn’t it? It’s mesmerizing, it’s it?
Let’s remember how those arrows might make us feel now that you know what the arrows look like in your life:
“Why would an enemy use flaming arrows? To DISTRACT. Men had a small opening and needed to keep their eyes fixed ahead, marching forward as one toward the enemy. Imagine a bunch of flaming arrows now sent into your line of sight. I’d be looking around left and right, up and down. I’d be thrown off and disoriented. I’d probably momentarily forget what I’m even doing there! Imagine it!” Now do you see? You live it. Daily. Hourly.
- How many of you know that “can” doesn’t mean should.
- That “I should” is a good sign it may not be what’s good.
- And that just because it’s a good thing, doesn’t mean it is a God thing.
Today, let’s just identify some of the flaming arrows sent our way. You may feel bad even calling them a flaming arrow. See. That’s the sneaky part. It happened to me on Sunday. There’s a Bible study I really want to do. I should do. I’d love to do. But I know that my family and my job need the majority of the emotional and mental capacity I have. I had to write Bible study down as a flaming arrow. Come on now! But think of it. Doesn’t darkness masquerade as light? And doesn’t God know how to help us discern which is light and which is a façade? He is able! So ask the Lord and write your list. What are your flaming arrows?
Today, identify the tactics against you and your household. Today, I encourage you to comment for the sake of others. Its really helpful for others to see what you identified. Then they can see it themselves.
Tomorrow, I’ll send you a prayer to help you in your battle against those arrows.