When I was young, trying new and exciting things was fun for me. That’s why joining the Army at age 18 was not a surprise to anyone who knew me. I wanted to see the world, and see the world I did! There were no wars going on when I served. My job? Always administrative support to different kinds of units, most often of which were military police. And in some of those units, that meant taking my administrative skills out to the field. It meant carrying an M16 while lugging my typewriter and files out to my tent. It meant knowing how to don a gas mask in seconds if need be. You see, regardless of what “job title” anyone enlists in, there are some very basic combat skills ALL soldiers must have. Because regardless of the particular area of expertise (finance, accounting, medic, supply, truck driver, engineer, cook, etc.), we were all members of an ARMY and therefore all TARGETS of an enemy, should a war ever break out. That meant I needed to ALWAYS know my weapon like my best friend. It meant I had to have quick access to it, never let it leave my side, have it cleaned and safe and ready at a moment’s notice to use. I could tear my weapon apart to the smallest of parts, clean it, put it back together perfectly in less than 2 minutes. And my gas mask WAS my best friend while serving in Korea. We were gassed often by police who were dispersing crowds of rioting students. I can tell you from experience what it’s like to be tear gassed. It’s not fun.
And I could lie to you here and tell you I remember well how to read a map and get myself from point A to point B, but too many I’m still in contact with remember the time I had 4 hours to find my way out of the forest at Fort Ord, Ca, but wound up climbing to the top of a hill and realizing I was in the back of the mall in the nearby city of Salinas, Ca. (I might add, NOWHERE NEAR where I was supposed to be)!
Late last night when I tried to take something down from my closet shelf, I nearly got a black eye when my 34 year-old combat boots fell from the shelf, hitting me right smack dab in the face. After a rant of swearing at my boots for having the audacity to try and take my life, (yes, I confess, I sometimes swear at inanimate objects), I sat down. It was as if God was telling me to put my doggone boots back on. My combat boots. Not long after that, I received a text from someone who loves me genuinely. All it said was, “Put your armor on!” And not long after THAT came a friend at the door to pray for me, and to pray for my family.
My family is in the middle of a war. I won’t even call it a battle. I am done making light of things. This is a war. My worship of the Lord these past few days has turned into tears of defeat and sadness, as well as cowardliness. There is a lot going on. Not much different than if you sat down and tried to watch the news right now at the middle east, and tried to understand the entire picture in just 5 minutes. It can’t be done. It’s thousands of years of stuff. So is this.
We are each given passions for a reason. Those passions come from God. He gives them to us for a reason, and it is up to us to seek HIM to find out why He puts on our hearts the things that HE puts on our hearts. Each one of us is as unique in our passions as we are in our appearances. He did not give me a passion to read maps or a talent to find my way out of a forest. But he also did not give others the gifts He gave me. An Army functions best when each person embraces their own “military occupational specialty,” perfects it, becomes really, really good at it, and can call themselves an “expert” at that particular skill. I really appreciated the police in my unit who protected me. I am sure that the medics in Iraq appreciated the scouts who drove out ahead of them to observe the enemy and their tactics, so that they could report back to the infantry how best to prepare to combat their enemy. I appreciated the people in finance who made sure my pay check was correct. I appreciated those who kept my records and made sure my promotions were on time.
So should the body of Christ be! We should appreciate each others gifts, talents, and passions. Not everyone can be a pastor. Not everyone should serve on the streets of Detroit walking amongst gang leaders and human traffickers. Not everyone should teach about Islam. Not everyone should be a counselor. We go where God sends us, and He annoints us for that calling. He does not give us passions to tease us or to distract us. And we need not justify our passions to others. Nor should we discourage others’ passions. We are an Army, and we each have a special part, a special role, or calling.
But regardless of our very specific and just-for-us passions, gifts, and talents, we are all still responsible for having those basic combat skills, be constantly aware that there IS a very CURRENT war going on for our souls, be able to recognize it, and come against it. We must be able to recognize the enemy’s tactics, and our weapon (God’s Word) must be our best friend. We may be nurses and teachers and medics and accountants. But if you follow Christ, your primary job is combat infantry, like it or not.
Aside from each of our special callings, basic combat skills are necessary. The Lord did not merely “suggest” that we put on our armor. He COMMANDED us to put on our armor. And, if I may ask – Are you under the impression that we would need armor without an opposing enemy? There is an unseen enemy of your soul, and he wants to distract you from worshiping the one true God, and from pointing others to Him. He will use everything and everyone he can and come at you with every freaking thing he’s got to get you to doubt who you are in Christ, to doubt your salvation, your worth, even your passions. John 10:10a says, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.”
I have doubted this entire week, not only who I am in Christ, but whether He loves me, why in the world He could EVER love someone like me, and even, yes, even my salvation…..
But right about that time was when my old boots fell on my face. And yes, even left a mark.
When Paul was in prison, he used a Roman soldier’s uniform to describe TO US, TODAY, what the armor of God looks like. (I am a visual person, so I cannot wait to meet Paul in heaven some day!)
Paul tells us in Ephesians 6:13-20, “Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints— and for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.
Therefore! TODAY, I remind myself that I am in a WAR. I have 2 sons and a soon daughter-in-law who love Jesus and are members of the same Army as I am. They are as much a target by the enemy as I am. If the enemy can cause discord in my home or in our relationships, he will. If he can turn our worship into complaining, he will. If he can use others around us to cause this, or to fuel this, he will. Things are not right. Things are far from right. But today, I start with being thankful that there are people who I know love us enough to step in and try to help us. Anyone with an interest in fueling the war, there is no place for. Because only the enemy comes to steal, kill, and destroy, and he is not allowed in my home.
So I study. Because 2 Timothy 2:15 says, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.” And I continue to study to, as Ephesians 6 says, worship Christ as Lord of MY life. And if someone asks about MY Christian hope, always be ready to explain it. I will STUDY so that just as my M16 and my gas mask were my best friends, my SWORD will be my weapon, and my best friend, (God’s WORD!)
As Ephesians 6:10-18 tells me, I will dig my heels in and take a stand against the devil’s schemes. I will continue to pray that the Lord points OUT his schemes. I KNOW that my 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. I will be strong in the Lord and in HIS mighty power, and when the day of evil comes, I will be ABLE to stand my ground, and after I have done EVERYTHING, to stand. I will stand FIRM then, with the belt of TRUTH buckled around my waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with my feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the Gospel of peace. I will take up the shield of faith, with which I can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. I will take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And I will 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.
Having children, and aging, not only made my “girth” grow, but my feet as well. My boots are a size 6. My feet? 7-1/2. But I get the point, Lord. I am lacing up my boots, as we speak. Thank you for the almost black eye!