Every few months, I hit a week (or two) where every bad thing you can think of happens. Example: not too long ago I had to say good-bye to my dog and put her down for health reasons, got stuck in a foot of mud on a deserted Kansas road at night with no way out, had two kids sick with the stomach bug, and one kid end up in the ER (all within one week).
Normally when this kind of storm hits my life, I do great for about a day or two, then I crash. I fall on my knees and cry. I usually feel guilty because I’m a long-time Christian and a pastor’s wife so I should I be able to handle this kind of craziness, right? Wrong.
After a while, I get back up and get going again until the next storm hits me. Then I crash and the cycle starts again.
It wasn’t until a month ago that I realized something: All these years I have been running into battle half naked.
God brought it to my attention that I was trying to coast through life. The problem is, you can’t coast through battles. When you only have half of your armor on, the enemy can pin you down then chop you off at the knee. That’s exactly how I felt after each storm.
I had forgotten that it takes the full armor of God to stand. I was trying to plunge through life with just a belt and breastplate on, and failing miserably.
So I went back to Ephesians 6 and here is what I discovered:
1) Before you put any spiritual armor on, you need to be standing firm in God’s strength. Ouch. I was definitely trying to shoulder my way through the hard things instead of being strong in God first.
2) Put on all of God’s armor. Not just the belt of truth. Not just the breastplate of righteousness. All of it. Half of it will only protect half of you.
3) All of the pieces of armor are important. There was a point a couple months ago where things were so bad I was actually questioning my own salvation because I was so sinful inside. As I was reading Ephesians 6, the helmet of salvation suddenly made sense. I really never understood that piece. Yeah, yeah, I’m saved, who cares. But after coming through that time of doubt, I realized that I had not been protecting my head. Without my helmet in place, my mind was susceptible. But with my helmet on, I know who I am and who I belong to and there is nothing that take that away. That knowledge gave me my confidence back.
4) Our battle is not with flesh and blood. Although sometimes it feels like it, especially when there is a person in your life who seems intent on cutting you down.
5) Pray at all times. All right, let’s be honest here, who prays all the time? Come on, raise your hand. Anyone? Yeah, I don’t either. Instead, I try and coast along and only bring the big items to God. But Paul says we need to pray all the time and for each other. I am not the only one in this battle. You are too. And so is my husband. And my children. And my fellow believers. We all need prayer.
Everyday for the last month I have been reading Ephesians 6 and putting my armor on. When this last storm hit, I was ready. I had my shield of faith ready when the doubts came. I had my helmet on. I used God’s word to counter the attacks. And I prayed, not only for myself, but for my brothers and sisters everywhere.
I’ve read Ephesians 6 countless times over the last twenty years, but only recently do I feel I’ve come to understand the importance of this passage.
How about you? Have you been running into the battles of life half naked? Did you leave your shield at home? Are you trying to stand on your own strength? What are you missing?