Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Ephesians 6:10 ESV
He's got a sword tucked in one side of his pajama bottoms and a silver wooden blade tucked in the other side. I chuckle when I realize the knife is from his sister's wooden cookie set. Today it's his weapon.
She is wearing her yellow and pink princess dress and matching pink shoes. It doesn't take me long to figure out which game they're playing. He is the hero, clearly. And she needs him to rescue her. I've seen this desire to protect her many times, and like every other four-year-old girl, she loves it. What I'm not prepared for is the conversation that follows.
He walks over to me and drops his head, visibly defeated. When I ask him what's wrong, his answer grabs my heart and for half a second I have no idea how to respond.
"I can't kill the dragon, Mom. I'm not strong," he sighs as he lays his weapons down on the coffee table between us.
"Yes, you are, Buddy,” I say. “You are strong, and you’re brave, too. Now go slay that dragon."
His eyes tell me my words will only go so far. "The dragon is too big; it's a giant dragon. I just can't," he admits, staring at the ground.
Furious, I want to know who told him he wasn't strong. But I know. I remember how young I was when I first heard the enemy whisper lies in my ears. Choking back tears, I ask God how to navigate all this.
I tell him the story of David, pointing out that he was just a boy, small like him. And there was this horribly mean giant who was over nine feet tall. I tell him about David's slingshot and how he grabbed five stones from the riverbed, but it only took one to take down Goliath. I ask him if he knows how David had such courage. He shakes his head, no, and I can tell he's listening.
"David knew he was strong, because God made him strong,” I say. “He knew God was fighting for him. You can slay a giant, too, with God's help. He made you strong."
As my words settle, he looks up and asks, "Is it time for lunch yet?" and just like that the conversation ends as quickly as it began.
Hours later, I’m still rehearsing the exchange of words between my four-year-old son and me. If he retreats in the face of an imaginary dragon, how will he stand courageous when confronted by his true enemy- the one who's after his heart? If he lays down his weapons now, how will I ever instill in him the power of the true weapon he has access to- the sword of the Spirit, the word of God?
A warrior who questions his strength will never reach for his weapon; he will withdraw. If he believes he is strong and capable, made in the image of God, he will pick up his sword and want to learn how to use it. But he must first believe he is strong. Everything else follows.
I'm well aware how unequipped I am in this area, so I continue to pray. Five words echo deep inside my soul. At first I think they're instructions directed towards me, but then I realize God is giving me words to pray over my son. Simple yet powerful, this prayer is for all of us- for our husbands, our sons, our brothers and fathers.
Teach him that he's strong.
We say our men are fixers, but isn't that exactly what we try to do? Fix what the enemy has broken? And we are failing miserably. Maybe it was never our job in the first place. There's only one Teacher who can accomplish this task.
God, teach him that he’s strong. Not make him strong or show him how to be strong, but teach him that he is strong. Teach him who he is and whose he is.
His strength isn't found in who he must work to become; it’s found in who he already is in Jesus. And the work was completed on the cross. Real strength doesn't have to be earned or achieved. It resides deep within every man's soul for one reason and one reason only: He is made in the image of a strong and mighty God.