All the schools will soon be out for summer, we Brits will jet off for our guarantee of sun, but sadly, our safety increasingly is not so secure… or at least that’s what world events, media, terrorist attacks would lead us to believe. However, they lead us astray, far away from the security and peace available to everyone of us. Get on the wrong train of thought and you will end up at the wrong destination! Well, for the next few minutes I invite you to jump on board a different train and for the sake of your sanity, safety and security this summer and every day thereafter, I pray it is one you will refuse to jump off.
As I walked with my family into the Royal Norfolk Showground last week I heard God’s voice very clearly speak to my heart. “Don’t just tell my children, show my children how to stay safe this summer, everyday, no matter what comes their way, as I have shown you”.
We can put so much emphasis on the natural measures and precautions that so often fail us that we neglect the spiritual that I have proved infallible! Yes, infallible – that is a claim I have never seen on sunscreen…. just too good to keep to myself so here goes:
“If you want to live securely in the land, follow my decrees and obey my regulations. Then the land will yield large crops, and you will eat your fill and live securely in it”. Leviticus 24:18
Top Tip 1: Wear a Hat….
I wouldn’t go out in the blazing sun with my 6 month old baby without him wearing a sun hat…. I am no different to any other loving, doting parent in that regard. I don’t want my child taken out by sunstroke, and God feels the same way about you and I. We apply the natural, now let’s apply the spiritual too. Do you know God caused a tree to grow up in the story of Jonah just to position him in the shade, whilst incidentally Jonah sulked at God for not working in the way he expected Him to work on his behalf. God placed the fire in the sky to lead the children of Israel and keep them warm in the desert by night on their exodus from Egypt. He placed the cloud above them to cover them from the harmful elements, to protect and direct them, by day. May we not neglect what our loving heavenly Father has made available to you and I, as we believe and receive! Wear your sun hats by all means but I’m just giving you the heads up (excuse the pun) there is a greater covering available to you and I and I’m wearing mine!
“Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety, He is my God, and I trust Him. For He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with His wings. his faithful promises are your armour and protection…” Psalm 91:1-4 (NLT)
Top tip 2: Sunglasses… So much more than a fashion statement!
After living in the Middle East and numerous speaking trips to sunny, hotter climates like Africa, I value greatly my sunnies that help me to see more comfortably. Did you know experts say our eyes are ten times more susceptible to sun damage than our skin and people with blue eyes, as well as children, are even more vulnerable to the sun’s rays. As well as choosing sunglasses with 100% UVA and UVB protection; polarized lenses are optional and I find they significantly reduce eye strain by cutting out reflective glare. In summer and winter they will give you better, sharper vision, with colours appearing more vibrant. Sunglasses are way more than a fashion statement – they are just as essential as sunscreen – and for children too! Our baby Judah will be sporting his fitted pair of sunnies, together with a variety of hats, on our travels!
As a family we will be in Israel, France and Mexico this summer, so I have just invested in my first ever, previously unknown to me, pair of handmade Moscot sunglasses. Let’s see if they live up to their price tag and sales speel… and whether they fare better than my aging pair of Prada’s, or recently lost Rayban’s that I’m still mourning. Sunglasses are everywhere and it would appear every brand wants to put their name to a pair but, for the record, sunglasses do not need to be expensive or branded, just ensure they are well fitted and providing you with the right level of protection! If you want to go all out, you can add infrared protection to your list – I wasn’t the greatest lover of the green coloured hue I was seeing the world through with mine, maybe it’s a different coloured lens for me next time! As the saying goes, first the natural and then the spiritual….
I learnt a long time ago, things are not always as they seem or we see them. One morning in church I was shocked by what I saw. One of my more conservative friends stepped onto the platform sporting her bright purple hairdo (not that there’s anything wrong with purple hair – I actually thought it looked really cool). It wasn’t until she stepped aside I realised it was a trick of the coloured lights. It makes all the difference what light and what lens we view life through. Through the natural light we view the world around us but God cautions us:
“Send out YOUR LIGHT and your truth; let them guide me. Let them lead me…” Psalm 43:3
“Do not be conformed to this world (this age, fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs), but be transformed (changed) by the entire renewal of your mind (by its new ideals and its new attitude), so that you may prove (for yourselves) what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect in His sight for you.” Romans 12:2 (Amp)
How do you view your marriage, family, financial situation, health, even your travel plans and flying; through the lens of hopelessness or God’s lens of hopefulness, through fear or faith, through lack or provision? In God’s light we see light, we see clearly, we walk securely.
Jesus said: “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life”. John 8:12
I don’t know about you but I want to follow the light that leads to life, safety, protection opposed to living life groping about in the darkness where fear, terror and untimely, unexpected death reigns.
Top Tip 3: Sunscreen…
For years we have been subjected to the harmful rays of the sun that can cause so many nasties due to the erosion of the protective ozone. It’s incredible that God made our world with protection always in place and in mind for us… our destruction and rejection of that protection through our own selfishness, I believe to be even more incredible, if that were possible. We cover our children from head to toe in sunscreen and our own bodies too, convinced we are doing the best for all. Only recently has it come to light that the chemicals contained in many of these can be cancer inducing. What is the answer? I scoured the shelves of our leading high street Chemist and was shocked to eventually be told by staff they don’t stock any natural, anti-parafin, chemical free sunscreens for babies, children or adults. I’m sure to the future this will all change but for now I have purchased a naturally based sunscreen by Tropics and am looking forward to testing it out in the Israeli and Mexican sun. It has to be re-applied two hourly apparently, but it contains good stuff.
Not so long ago, whilst spending a day watching our ten-year old son play at an all day cricket tournament, and despite factor 50 sunscreen to our baby’s little chubby cheeks – I was horrified when they were bright pink by evening. I put my trust wholly in something I found to be fallible rather than trusting in the infallible power of prayer and God’s protection. I learnt my lesson. That night friends who joined us at home for supper found it amusing how even this Momma of 5 could get it so wrong. Well, hey, guess what, I’m fallible too… and before you point the finger, so are you. That’s why we need God’s wisdom, help and protection every moment of every day. That’s why God gave us an open communication line to him through prayer. That’s why God gave us promises we can stake our very lives on in His word…. best we apply the natural but of even greater importance, don’t deny the power and protection God has made available to us spiritually speaking too! In contrast, one time I was caught out without sunscreen and resorted to prayer – the sun was intense. I recalled two of God’s gorgeous promises contained in His word and by faith applied them to my body… from top to toe:
“The sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon at night.” Psalm 121:6
“For the Lord God is our sun and our shield. He gives us grace and glory. The Lord will withhold no good thing from those who do what is right.” Psalm 84:11
Guess what… I was a lovely colour of brown by night fall – once again, I proved His word infallible. Apply the natural but know there is only One we can truly put our trust in. When the natural and spiritual go hand in hand, no matter what you face in life – God sets you up to win!
Last summer it looked as though our holiday plans went horribly wrong… In the early months of my pregnancy with Judah it was recommended not to fly so with three days to go until our planned holiday to Spain, I found myself looking for options we could drive to and the South of France, Nice, was top of my list. I found a lovely hotel on the seafront that could amazingly accommodate us all last-minute, only to have my husband arrive home that night and announce that prayerfully, he did not feel he should take the children or I to Nice! As simple as that! I looked aghast, I had spent a full day painstakingly sourcing this holiday and now he drops this bombshell on me! “You’re having a laugh”, I said, as I looked at him intently, but not even a hint of a smile crossed his face. This was unlike him and I realised he was serious. I agreed to trust his strong leading and then told him booking anywhere at this late stage was now over to him….!! Disneyland Paris and a Villa near La-Rochelle in France became our holiday destination. A couple of days into our holiday, terror struck Nice. A terrorist attack involving a lorry, ploughed through the streets of Nice during their Bastille Day celebrations rocking our world again, taking many precious lives in its wake. It happened right in the vicinity where we would have been staying. My husband heard and chose to heed God’s still, small voice in His heart – he obeyed and redirected our holiday plans accordingly and ultimately protected the lives of his family. This is how God longs to speak and keep His children safe in these days. We do not have to be afraid – trust in Jesus and obey. We spoke and comforted so many people on that holiday who were amazed by God’s leading and our story. They questioned the atrocities going on in our world. They shared their fears of going out anywhere and we shared the security and assurance that is ours in knowing Jesus goes with us, before us and clears the way for us!
“Let me hear of your unfailing love each morning, for I am trusting you. Show me where to walk for I give myself to you. Rescue me from my enemies, Lord; I run to you to hide me. Teach me to do your will, for you are my God. May your gracious Spirit lead me forward on a firm footing. For the glory of your name, Oh Lord, preserve my life”! Psalm 143:8-11
I love the reality that our great God can show us where to walk, especially as increasingly this world feels like we are stepping out into a minefield daily. God promises to lead us on a firm footing as we put our trust in Him. I have proved time and time again that the safest place to be is in the will of God, and believe me, God has led me to, and through, many dangerous places and situations. You wouldn’t go out this summer without your child’s sun hat, packing your sunglasses or applying your sunscreen – more importantly, don’t venture out without Jesus, you need Him! Before you step out of your door, board that plane, hit the beach or party on the streets, cover yourself with God’s protection, take the power of prayer, apply His word and stay safe in the sun, with the SON this summer!
“How great is the goodness you have stored up for those who fear (love, revere and honour) You. You lavish it on those who come to you for protection, blessing them before the watching world. You hide them in the shelter of your presence, safe from those who conspire against them. You shelter them in your presence…” Psalm 31:19-24
Today I said a prayer for you, yes you, that you will know peace and safety as a certainty and God’s miraculous provision, protection and power will become your secret source and success in life.
“May the Lord bless you and protect you. May the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you. May the Lord show you His favour and give you His peace.” Numbers 6:24-26