I woke up that day and the armor didn't come to mind until I started to see the mishaps, one after the other. The blows were significant enough to jar my memory of a sermon I heard not many days before. It had given me a deeper understanding of God's holy armor and our need for it. As I recalled this, I mentally and spiritually put it on. Throughout the day I still felt afflicted. It seemed like the armor was not doing what it is said to do. I gained understanding later. I thought of a soldier going into battle without his uniform specifically designed for war. He receives a blow to the shoulder that penetrates the skin creating significant pain and an open wound. This soldier runs back to put on his gear and returns to battle. He still feels the pain of the injury. He is still impaired by the loss of perfect functionality, but the enemy fire that comes his way does not penetrate. I was dressed in my armor and for the remainder of the day, the blows did not pierce. My wound wasn't healed because healing is not the purpose of the armor, so I still felt the affliction as I proceeded. Unfortunately I was so focused on the pain of the wound that I did not fight my battle well and made little progress on the path that was set for that day.
The next day I proclaimed that the day would be great. I woke up encouraged, put on my armor and anticipated a battle. I expected warfare because experience has shown that it is inevitable. When walking in the ways of the Lord or for his purpose, there will always be opposition. I thought my spiritual confidence this day and the armor I wore would keep me feeling strong. Instead, I watched the fiery darts, and without surprise they came my way only to shove me hard enough that I had to convince myself to stand though I wanted to retreat. I became discouraged and almost doubtful. The legitimacy of the armor came into question as I felt the strikes. I realized later that it is not the armor that is malfunctioning nor is it fictitious, but my expectations were misplaced. I expected the armor to act as a fortress, solid and unmovable as the fire pummeled its walls. As a fortress it would protect me from feeling the blow. As a fortress it would secure anything I held behind its stone walls. As a fortress however, it would also disable me. I would remain in one location and defeat the purpose, which is to progress in God's will; the reason I'm in the battle to begin with.
The armor does not prevent the enemy's attempts, but it does not leave me as vulnerable as I might feel either. It covers the vital areas of the body. The head, chest, loins, and feet are covered allowing me to think of my victory, be led with my heart, and have the core of my body intact for standing and producing in truth. Lastly, I still have my feet for mobility. With that God gives a defense, the shield. All of this is a spiritual covering as I prepare to use my sword.
Today the battle invaded my home despite the fact that I had on the armor since this morning. I literally laid on the floor in a mind of defeat fumbling though the scriptures that make up my sword. I could not think of complete verses, I could not recall the ones that would be most effective in this case, and I couldn't benefit from the power of it. In my belief that I had prepared myself with the Word in my daily reading, I was stunned to find that I couldn't use it in time of need. My emotions had gotten in the way. The blow shoved my heart with a force that left me crying out "how does this help God, how does this help?" It was then that I realized I'm not trained. Though I have a personal relationship with God, an active prayer life, and I read the Word daily, I have the tools but do not know how to use them when the blow is so personal and in my face.
I run through the list of components: the feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace, the loins girded with truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the helmet of salvation, the sword of the spirit, and the shield of faith (Eph 6:14-17, KJV). When I declare that I've put these on however, it doesn't give me knowledge of what to do with them. Soldiers are trained to use their tools and even given a strategy. I wholeheartedly believe that the Bible is the instruction manual and God is the instructor, but in pursuit of the training, I must read it not only to increase my knowledge and understanding of God, not only to feed my spirit as I feed my body, and not only as a guide to daily living. I must read it with a soldier's mindset, one who needs to know how to use his weapons of war as his life depends on it. I must be open to God's use of other soldiers and sergeants who have learned and are learning their spiritual weapons as well. As I look back on the moment when I lay on the floor feeling powerless with my sword, I remember searching for words that would pierce or cut the enemy with force, halt his activity and remove the residue of his presence while restoring a peace in my spirit and in my home. Now I consider Christ and his methods, so many of which, I do not know but will learn as I read with a soldier's perspective.
In the wilderness, when the devil came to temp him, Jesus used scriptures that were not forceful, but instructional. He reminded the devil of the Father's way, the way he was committed to follow. The enemy backed off after three attempts and left him for a season (Luke 4:2-13). When casting out devils, Jesus did not declare his stance with intensity, or attempt to weaken the unclean spirit with a verse, but sternly commanded it to come out (Mark 5:8 and others). Even when he saw the devil rise up in those close to him, Peter for example, he said "Get thee behind me, Satan" (Mark 8:33, KJV) Jesus did not fight with ferocity because he didn't need to; he reminded the devil of the truth each time; that he had the authority and victory… period.
From a desperate mentality I was searching for verses that would show the enemy I was more powerful than him through Christ. The enemy already knows that but takes advantage when I'm not operating in that power. Instead I should have shown that I was operating in Christ's authority by using scripture as an effective reminder of his defeat. I don't have to flex my strength. I am to stand with the calm security in Christ, which forces the enemy to retreat. My sword, does not take power from the enemy, it does not weaken him, and it does not stab or slice him. It forces him to retreat by revealing that I'm not fighting with my own strength, but with the power of the only one who has victory over him in all cases, Jesus.
I just recently learned how real this is and only because God has given me sight for his sake. It has gone beyond hearing what the enemy has done in someone's life or hearing about how active he is in his efforts to kill, steal, and destroy. I also know there's much more that I'm not aware of and without training, I will not be prepared to even see it much less face it head on. Though I'm still weary from the last encounter, I know that it has nothing to do with the makeup, function, or effectiveness of my weapons. It has to do with my understanding, expectation, and preparation before donning the whole armor of God.
"Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand." (Ephesians 6:13, KJV)