I woke up last Friday morning anticipating a regular Fun Friday with my Kindergarten class and the 4 o’clock sigh of release to start the weekend. My two days off were earmarked for writing report cards, with the hopes of Sunday functioning a little more like a Day of Rest.
I read my morning devotionals and listened to an uplifting podcast while getting ready for work.
That’s when my phone buzzed with the first text.
In the hour before I welcomed 22 little children aged 3-5 into my classroom, I received 15 heated texts dripping with sarcasm, insults, and disrespect. I prayed for wisdom before responding. The relationship required constant work, and it was important to use only the words that reflected God’s love and patient endurance. It wasn’t easy to deny an emotional reaction and to avoid replying in a similar state of agitation.
I prayed for her and her family as I biked to school. A person with the tendency to overreact, responding out of paranoia and misunderstanding, with no regard for how her words attack and belittle, must have a lot of turmoil in her heart. I prayed for her peace. I prayed for mine. It was an unsettling way to begin my day, but God honored my prayer.
Defeated, the serpent slithered off the bike path.
But in the tall grass, he shed his skin.
Off to a shaky start, Fun Friday with my little ones helped ease the negativity and achieve equilibrium, setting the morning’s nastiness behind me. I was grateful to my teaching partner and my students for a great day at school, despite the threads of negativity which showed up throughout the day like the fins of circling sharks in Facebook messages in our family chat. (Maybe my cell phone is the problem… it seems to be a common bearer of bad news here).
Our car was displaying unhappy messages, despite its overnight stay in its original home (a basic tire change and oil/filter). Hubby returned to the garage where they promptly replaced the battery with a shiny new one. Two hundred dollars poorer, he drove back home.
That evening after dinner, we picked up a prescription for our son who lives across town. Before getting on the highway, the dash was lit up with red symbols and warning messages again. The same words appeared on the screen, suggesting there was a battery issue. The radio stopped working to save battery life.
“I don’t think we should go on the highway like this,” I said. But a few seconds later, the warnings disappeared and everything appeared normal. We pulled onto the highway.
Minutes later, the warnings were back and the radio died one more time. Once again, Hubby began switching lanes to abandon the mission, but the alerts vanished before we reached the exit. Other than the radio periodically malfunctioning, the car seemed to be operating fine.
We delivered the package to our son, but didn’t stop to visit.
“I’ve lost the power steering,” Hubby said seconds into our return trip. I gritted my teeth.
All of a sudden, the engine light came on; then the hand brake symbol. I clenched my fists.
The entire dash of the car went black. We had no speedometer, no readings of any kind, and the signal lights weren’t working. I pushed the button repeatedly for the emergency flashers.
My heart raced.
Cars swished past us, going the common speed of 120 km/hr and we had no way of showing that we were in distress.
“I’m losing speed,” Hubby said while I pointed to an upcoming exit, willing us to make it. Our speed had dropped to 80 then 70, and we crippled down the exit ramp to stop just outside the busy intersection.
Luckily, the emergency flashers worked this time when I pushed the button, but the engine refused to start. This hunk of lifeless metal was less than 5 years old; its odometer reading only 60,000 km. How was this possible?
Seconds after we came to a stop, a police vehicle pulled up beside us. Quickly reading the situation, he parked behind us with his lights flashing and proceeded to direct traffic around us. He called a tow truck and delivered a measure of peace that everything would be okay.
It felt like a long time as we waited for the truck; long enough to reflect on how differently this could have ended.
As we thanked God for His protection from harm and the angel who’d arrived in uniform to help us, the serpent rode quietly to the garage on the flatbed.
But he slithered into the engine and shed his skin once again.
We communicated with the garage on Saturday morning, and Hubby left to get the promised loaner car. That solved, I prepared my tea and settled into my recliner with my laptop. Report card time, as planned.
I double clicked on the Google Doc file to continue where I had left off the day before when my partner and I finished making notes on the last couple of children. I noticed right away that our final notes weren’t in the file. I scrolled up to discover that those from the day before weren’t there either. What about the ten completed comments that I had worked on Wednesday night? Gone. My heart sank. Hours of work gone.
The serpent smiled as my panic drove out logic, and while I looked at the different saved versions listed, my brain didn’t connect that one of them might contain the missing words. As I waited for a second computer to boot up (as if a Windows system might magically fix the problem since my Mac was failing), I prayed for help. By the time my “dinosaur”, as I call it, booted up, God answered my prayer and allowed me to think a little more clearly. If there was an autosave on Friday afternoon which saved as a separate version, that file should have all my words.
And it did. I thanked my Father for getting me through with limited distress.
Like a batter after the umpire’s cry of “Strike three!”, the serpent sighed and slithered off to find someone else to torment.
Why did three potentially-traumatic events happen to me in rapid-fire during a 24-hour period?
I had made some decisions. Decisions that put me on a clearer path to following God’s plan for my life. Decisions that would create the time I need to devote to His purpose.
Our enemy, Satan, wasn’t too happy with my decisions. And in he slithered.
To his detriment, I recognized his attempts at derailing me, and stopped him in his tracks.
The Bible says if we humble ourselves before God, we can resist the devil, and he will flee from us. (James 4:7). I prayed to God each time the serpent approached, and three times he realized he was no match for the Almighty God.
The devil is real, my friends. But Jesus conquered him when he died and rose again. That old snake can’t hurt me. He can hiss all he wants. He can shed his skin and come after me in a new disguise. But I will not let him shake my faith. God takes care of His children when we call on Him. 2 Corinthians 2:10-11 tells us that with Christ’s authority, Satan won’t outsmart us, because we are familiar with his evil schemes.
Fellow Christian writers in my online community sent the following verses to encourage me. Quote them when you feel Satan slithering into your space.
Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.Psalm 55:22 NIV
Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong. And do everything with love.1 Cor 16:13-14 NLT
Do not be afraid of them; the LORD your God himself will fight for you.Deuteronomy 3:22 NIV
Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil.Ephesians 6:11 NLT
You might say, Valda, seriously these are not trials. No one died, you weren’t diagnosed with a terrifying disease, you didn’t lose your job, your husband didn’t walk out on you.
But if YOU find yourself in a difficult situation, whether it’s minor or major, God cares about you. Give it to Him, claim these verses, and allow Him to take charge. Satan is just a fallen angel cast out of Heaven. He has no real power when God is in the room.