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Squealing with delight, I dropped my Sunday school art work and ran as fast as my five-year-old legs could carry me, dodging purses and parents in hot pursuit of one of my favorite people in the whole wide world.

She hadn’t seen me yet.  She couldn’t have because she was headed in the opposite direction.

“MEEEMAAA!” I yelled again, turning her head and everyone else’s.

Blue eyes big, she squatted and received my biggest, best bear hug ever.

But she didn’t squeeze back.  Not exactly.

“I didn’t know you were coming!” I blurted through welling tears, pressing my face into her neck.

No answer, just an uncharacteristic pat-pat on my back.

My heart squeezed.  In a flash, hot and cold together scurried up my neck and over my scalp.  Mema was too small.  Her shoulders were too sharp.  Her hairspray didn’t smell right.

People stilled and my ears began to ring.

“I think you’re looking for someone else, Sweetie,” a total stranger whispered in my ear.

That day, I became a bit of a skeptic, looking once, twice, three times before leaping at anyone or anything.  It hasn’t kept me from making mistakes—I can be stubborn sometimes—but it’s definitely spared me a lot of hurt and confusion, especially when it comes to spiritual matters.

This being true, I encourage everyone to do the same.

Listen, it may look like God and sound like God from a distance, but that doesn’t mean it is God.  Wait, watch, and listen before you embrace it.

What should you look for?  That which is consistent with God’s Word (John 17:17).  Everything else is false.

How will you know?  Read the Bible for yourself, all of it.  Memorize it.  Meditate on it.

Then and only then, when imposters pose, you’ll know it and stand equipped to spare yourself and others untold grief.  Remember, children aren’t the only ones in danger of being led away and harmed by strangers.