My second son was born a warrior. Luke was my sword-wielding castle-loving knight-in-shining-armor. His bedroom was a fortress, and he held royal court at an elaborate birthday palace the summer he turned five.
Luke was four years old when he first battled Satan.
When the nightmares started, his dad and I were not terribly alarmed. Don’t all parents of little ones expect interruptions to sleep? After all, it was Luke whose nighttime habits often included sleepwalking to the bathroom, where he may or may not identify the designated fixture for going about his business. My husband and I developed a practice of keeping track of whose turn it was to wake from slumber to intercept the current nocturnal adventure. But the blood-curdling screams in the dead of night turned out to be a different sort of adventure altogether.
One night the terror must have been more intense than normal, because Kyle and I both remember being at Luke’s bedside when he told us he’d seen Satan in his room. This comment was coming from our son who by age four had already begun to show signs of uncanny awareness of God—and we did not doubt the possibility that Luke was facing a real-time spiritual battle. So we taught our boy to fight. A battle-prayer, nothing fancy. Jesus, I trust you to keep me safe.
And it seemed to work. After a couple of nights of wielding his prayer-weapon, the night terrors subsided, and Luke’s daily development as God’s little warrior continued to advance at a rapid pace.
Our young son’s world was black-and-white. He was a quick judge of right and wrong, good and evil. Neighborhood boys learned quickly not to mess with Luke’s passionate bent toward justice. And as parents we appreciated our son’s seeming inability to tell a lie, a trait that came in quite handy when unraveling the shenanigans of a houseful of boys. But for all of his apparent wisdom and discernment, Luke was also the one who got himself into the most life-threatening predicaments. Luke needed saving on more than occasion, and it was usually the result of his overactive imagination.
Kyle was recovering from knee surgery the day Luke barely escaped a close-call with the villainous Captain Hook. It was a summer afternoon when our now six-year-old warrior returned from the out-of-doors, red-faced and sweaty, clearly traumatized from his scrape with death. No exaggeration. Our blond-headed Peter Pan was still hiccup-sobbing when he told his story about how he’d fled from the one-handed bad guy and hid in the safest place he could find. That being the trunk of his dad’s car. “But the trunk locked, and it was dark, and I couldn’t get out, and I screamed for you guys, but YOU DIDN’T COME!”
Mom and Dad exchanged horrified glances and asked the obvious question. “Luke, how did you get out of the trunk?”
“I screamed: JESUS GET ME OUT OF HERE! And I hit the trunk with Dad’s golf shoe, and it popped open.”
Just like that.
I wonder if King David of the Bible might have been a bit like my son. (Or is it my son who’s like David?) Fierce warrior, wild imagination, uncanny faith.
Alone in the wilderness watching over his father’s sheep, the young boy David was confronted by a lion. The beast had come to carry off one of the lambs in his care. The boy knew the lion could as easily devour a small shepherd as a wandering sheep, but he did not run. He didn’t panic. Instead he attacked the lion and rescued the lamb from its mouth. When the lion turned its fury on him, he grabbed the savage by the beard and killed it, later explaining:
“The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” (1 Samuel 17:37)
Who thinks this way?
If you’ve read The Covenant Story you already know my conclusion.
King David had a “covenant heart.” You can’t read David’s story without seeing the truth of this on every page. It is there when David fights lions and slays a giant. When he flees the enemy and seeks refuge. When he goes into battle and conquers the adversary. In his weakness and his sin. His poetry, his songs, his lament. Every detail of David’s life points to this one thing. David knew his Covenant God.
David was also a brilliant writer, his poems and psalms painting pictures of God for the inspiration of future generations. (This too reminds me of Luke.*)
In my distress I called upon the Lord; to my God I cried for help. From his temple he heard my voice, and my cry to him reached his ears.
Then the earth reeled and rocked; the foundations also of the mountains trembled and quaked, because he was angry. Smoke went up from his nostrils, and devouring fire from his mouth; glowing coals flamed forth from him. He bowed the heavens and came down…
He rode on a cherub and flew; he came swiftly on the wings of the wind…
And he sent out his arrows and scattered them; he flashed forth lightnings and routed them…
He sent from on high, he took me; he drew me out of many waters. He rescued me from my strong enemy and from those who hated me, for they were too mighty for me.
He brought me out into a broad place; he rescued me, because he delighted in me.
(From David’s Song, found in 2 Samuel 22 and Psalm 18)
This God David pictured was no tame God. This was the fiercely compassionate God of steadfast love.
These days my son continues to be a warrior, fighting for truth and justice as a law student. The battle for his heart is no less intense than it was in the days when we taught him to pray in his bedroom. And I still pray for him daily, with this picture in mind—
A picture of the covenant-keeping God who hears our cries and grabs our hands and pulls us out of the waters. God, shaking the foundations of the earth, bursting through the heavens breathing fire to rescue us. Sword drawn, arrows flying. Not fighting against, but fighting FOR.
He rescued me, because he delighted in me.
And even warriors need saving.
*Luke is an unbelievably gifted writer. One of my all-time favorite Mom blessings was this Mother’s Day tribute he wrote for me a few years ago.