Ephesians 6:11-17 (New International Version)
Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities,against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
Back in October I led a women’s retreat for a friend’s church in Maryland. When I was praying about what I would say during that weekend, Ephesians 6:11-17 kept springing to mind. It’s one of my favorite passages, which may surprise you as I’m not a particularly warlike or combative person. But it’s a passage that got me through some very difficult situations in the past. For example, when I was faced with a particularly painful challenge at my work, I read this section of chapter 6 every morning. I actually pictured myself putting on each of the items described above, envisioning what each meant to me and how they would protect me in the coming day.
The belt of truth. A belt keeps everything in place. It keeps your pants from falling down, exposing you and making you vulnerable to tripping up in the midst of battle. Knowing the truth about God prepares me for action. It gives me confidence throughout the day.
Then comes the breastplate of righteousness. The armored breastplate protected the vulnerable organs, especially the heart and lungs. The Greek for righteousness means to act in a way that is in line with God’s will. Before I even leave the house I vow to make decisions that will make God happy, even if those decisions aren’t in line with what the world would want– or even if they aren’t in line with what I would want in that moment.
Next, the gospel of peace on my feet. Wherever my steps take me during the day, I pray that each move would bring peace, love, and reconciliation with me.
The shield of faith, deflecting the arrows of temptation, discord, and malice. The helmet of salvation– Jesus’ love within my mind– guiding my thoughts and my actions. And then, finally, the sword of the Spirit, the word of God, which can slice through misunderstanding, dishonesty, confusion, and corruption.
Wow! That’s quite the outfit! Admittedly, we would look seriously strange (and more than a bit frightening) if we were to actually don such armor, so I don’t suggest that. But imagining putting on each item, and what each represents, made a significant difference in my attitude during those trying times. I felt emboldened and ready to face whatever the world threw at me. With the knowledge that God was firmly by my side, no matter what happened that day.
How could better knowing about God’s truth, love, peace, and strength help you to get through your day?
I wish I had included your armor along with the pistol, knife, radio (with extra batteries), survival kit and parachute when I strapped into my F-4 Phantom for my last mission to Hanoi. Things might have turned out a lot better.
I love the imagery you’ve given me. Wonder if we could develop a poster?
Have a beautiful day! You’ve given me lots to think about.