By Maria Kneas
See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. (Ephesians 5:15-16)
Recently, I had lunch at a local restaurant, and I noticed that a woman in the booth next to mine was wearing a tee-shirt that said, “Proud To Be A Hater.” I asked her what that meant, and she said she was a Cowboys fan, and therefore she hated the Redskins. Seeing that shirt shocked me. “Proud to be a hater” is the kind of thing I would expect to hear from an ISIS terrorist—not from a middle-aged American woman who chatted pleasantly with me after I asked her about her shirt.
Suppose that two men whose fathers are professional football players are serving together in Afghanistan. The father of one man plays for the Cowboys and the father of the other man plays for the Redskins. Would they hate one another? I don’t think so. They would be too busy protecting one another’s backs against a common enemy.
If the Cowboys and the Redskins played against one another in the Superbowl, would they care if their father’s team won? Of course they would. But for men who have seen fellow soldiers blown up by bombs or shot down by enemies, the Superbowl would not be foremost in their minds. The safety of their buddies would be far more important to them. When you are at war, then your perspective about things changes significantly.
According to the Bible, every Christian is in a spiritual war. Our enemies are the world system, the flesh, and the devil. Therefore, we need to be vigilant and careful about what we do because small mistakes can have large consequences.
You can see that principle even in ordinary everyday activities like driving our cars. If we make a left turn at the wrong time due to carelessness, then we will get broadsided by another vehicle. That would cost us time, money, and a lot of hassle; and it could result in life-changing injuries or even death. During war time, the degree of risk and potential damage becomes much greater.
According to Webster’s Dictionary, circumspect means “careful to consider all circumstances and possible consequences; prudent.” A synonym is cautious, and in defining that, the dictionary explains some differences in words related to circumspect. It says, “Cautious implies the exercise of forethought usually prompted by fear of probable or even of merely possible danger; circumspect suggests less fear and stresses the surveying of all possible consequences before acting or deciding; wary emphasizes suspiciousness and alertness in watching for danger and cunning in escaping it.”
We are living in a world that has rejected Christ and is going crazy. Therefore, if we want to be faithful Christians, we need to be cautious, circumspect, and wary. All of these different attributes are important if we want to protect our relationship with God and with other believers.
We need to be aware of what we are thinking and feeling. Not everything we think and feel comes from us. Sometimes it can be from the Holy Spirit, and sometimes it can be from demons.
We also need to be aware of what is influencing us and how it is influencing us. We can ask God to give us an “early warning system” that sets off red alarm lights when something is influencing us in a bad way.
Above all, we need to know the Bible for ourselves and not depend on getting information about it secondhand (from sermons and books, etc.); and we need to have a prayer life. We need to keep a solid connection between ourselves and the Lord.
When my husband Ray was alive, he and I could be in the same room, intensely focused on different things and not talking to one another. But even though we were not communicating verbally or looking at one another, we were very much aware of the presence of our “other half.” There was always a level of connection between us. And, of course, we would talk from time to time, and there were times when we were intensely focused on one another.
After Ray died, it was amazing how empty our home felt. While he was alive, if I was in one room by myself and he was somewhere else, I still didn’t feel alone. But after Ray died, the aloneness was overwhelming.
I’m in my 70s now, and I’ve been reading the Bible, thinking about what it says, and talking with the Lord for a long time. I always feel His presence, like I used to feel my husband’s presence. That connection is always there.
Some things can interfere with that. One time, I was watching one of the old Star Trek movies with my nephews, and I felt that connection go away. Well, I used to be a Trekkie when the old series first came out, so that show grabbed me in a way that most TV shows don’t. After that experience, I never watched Star Trek again, and I radically decreased all TV.
Now, I’m not saying that everybody should do that. People are all different. But we do need to be aware of what is going on and the impact that things are having on us.
For me, having that ongoing connection with the Lord is far more important than any form of entertainment. I enjoy good entertainment, but I can live without it. However, I cannot live without being in communion with the Lord. I constantly need His guidance, His comfort, and His encouragement.
If America becomes a more dangerous place, then that will become true for many more people. For example, if we could run into a terrorist at any street corner, then all of a sudden, prayer would become much more important to us. Who cares about the latest movie or football game when you don’t know whether or not you will be able to get home without having your head get cut off by some terrorist? Plus, you want to be sure that your spouse and your children made it home safely. And you want to know that your friends are all right. Under those kinds of circumstances, all at once our priorities change radically.
Quite apart from terrorists, being tuned in to God has important practical consequences. One time, I was at the base of one of those high, curved bridges where you can’t see what’s on the other side of the bridge. I was waiting for the light to tell me I could make a left-hand turn. The light changed, and I was about to make that turn. Then I had a strong feeling that I needed to freeze and stay right where I was. I didn’t “hear” anything or know that it was God communicating with me. But I had this strong feeling, and I followed it. I didn’t move. And then a truck came barreling over the bridge. Evidently, he had run the red light on the other side of the bridge.
If I had made that turn when the light told me to do it, I would have been broadsided by that truck. So even when things seem to be safe and normal, it is still good to be tuned in to the Lord as much as possible. We can just be aware of Him and receptive to any way He wants to nudge us or guide us.
With me, it’s much similar to how it was with my husband. Sometimes I focus intensely on God. I frequently chat with Him (thanking Him for His blessings, asking for His help or guidance, etc.). And I’m always aware of His presence. I never feel alone.
I’m nobody special. If God does that for me, then He can do it for anyone who will receive Him. Isaiah said, “every one that thirsteth come ye to the waters” (Isaiah 55:1). Jesus was and is the water of life, and He promised the gift of the Holy Spirit to those who will receive Him (John 4:14).
(Excerpt from Maria Kneas’ book Strength for Tough Times, 2nd ed.; photo, from the cover of Strength for Tough Times)