Well it has been a year so far! One in which we have been thrown curve ball after curve ball and frankly, I’m ready for hibernation cause it’s been exhausting.
As we started 2019 I had every intention of writing regularly, of studying, of working regularly. I was ready to march on into this year with a clear path forward.
Then life happened – and wham bam, here we are…
I won’t go into all the details of what has been thrown at us this year (so far…) that’s not what I want to talk about today. What I want to share- what God has been steadily teaching me – is about READINESS. Remaining on guard.
The Armor of God
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 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.13 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. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. 19 Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.
A couple of weeks ago I was praying with one of our leaders at church. God brought this passage to mind and made a few things stand out particularly. We can so often read a familiar passage of scripture and simply revert to what we have always been taught. This particular day, however, God highlighted something different to me…
Firstly that we are to PREPARE and BE PREPARED for battle. Why do I say it like that? Well, we need to be fully aware that battles will come; that life will throw curve balls at us; that we will find ourselves needing to be ready for anything really. We need to prepare for that, equip ourselves and stand together with those that God has joined our hearts with. We also need to stand ready… already prepared. One thing that is often taught when we read this passage of scripture is that we should “put our armor on each morning”… Now I am all for reminding ourselves each day that we have Christ living in us and what that means for daily life – but while I read that we are to PUT ON the armor of God, I don’t read anywhere that we should take it off… My understanding is that once it is on us – we are locked and loaded… ready. I believe it is important to remind ourselves of what that armor might look like but we need to stand prepared for battle, standing firm in the knowledge that we have the fullness of Christ in us and all that He offers. As the first verse in our passage says “be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power”.
The second thing stood out to me was that we need to STAND FIRM. 4 times we are told to STAND or STAND FIRM. 4 times… in 4 verses. If we are truly seeking God and believe Him to be the one directing our path, then when opposition hits, we need to stand firm! We need to hold our ground. Personally, I find this hard. I am someone who does not like not being liked. I am not naive to believe that everyone likes me, nor do I expect them to. I just don’t like it. I have a tendency to want to people please my way into their good graces. But this doesn’t work, especially when God is wanting me to lead. There are times when I have had to hold my ground because that’s the right way forward, when all I have wanted to do is bend over backwards to make things “better.” Conflict is never easy, but sometimes it’s necessary and constantly retreating in the face of adversity means we will never advance the Kingdom of God. That’s what we are here for isn’t it? To make His name know and to help in growing His Kingdom.
The third thing probably stood out the most to me was to BE ALERT. Another way to say this is to be ON GUARD. If you have ever fought a battle, physical, spiritual or otherwise, you would know the toll it takes. Weariness sets in. Frustration, exhaustion… all these things compound together and the longer a battle goes on, the more tired we become. This is where I have found myself recently. Exhausted, both mentally and physically. My body is run down and I am ready to stop. And this is when it is most important to remain alert. We have to remain standing firm, holding our ground and ready for anything, because one thing I have learnt is that it is in these times of weariness that the enemy strikes – and usually in the place we least expect it. If we drop our guard down, the damage could be that much worse.
Well, my goodness. This was probably not where I was expecting to go with my writing today. Hopefully this has reminded you of all that we have in Christ. One thing I know is that He never leaves us or expects us to battle on our own. He is always with us and it is He who equips us and directs us. He is our shield and He goes before us. We are able to do all things through Him! So stand firm, stand ready, be on guard and trust that His ways are perfect!