“Draw your strength from the Lord and from his mighty power. Put on the armor of God so that you may be able to stand firm against the tactics of the devil. For our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens. Therefore, put on the armor of God, that you may be able to resist on the evil day and, having done everything, to hold your ground. So stand fast with your loins girded in truth, clothed with righteousness as a breastplate, and your feet shod in readiness for the gospel of peace. In all circumstances, hold faith as a shield, to quench all [the] flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” Ephesians 6:10-17
Ever feel like you are at war? Fighting a battle you feel you can’t win? Do your battles tend to be with people?
I work in an environment that is primarily men. In fact, I spend about 95% of my time around men at work. Often times they humor me with their comments. One day, we were sitting talking and they began to laugh and started describing images of me putting war paint on under my eyes. I often do go to battle for these men as they are my direct reports and as their leader, I do my best to be their voice. Although I thought it a funny image, I later began to reflect on that image of putting on war paint to go to battle and what do I put on to fight my personal battles in my life. I’m not sure war paint is the answer. Seriously, what purpose would that solve if you weren’t using it to camouflage yourself as you try to sneak up on the enemy?
Almost every day, we are faced with battles in our lives. Sometimes those battles start the minute we open our eyes until the time we go to bed. So how do we best fight these battles? In Ephesians 6:10-17, I think we are given the perfect recipe for fighting the war – putting on the armor of God. We may not see that armor as being effective if we don’t realize that our battle is not with the person beside us, but our fight is “with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens.” Until we realize that key point, we talk until we are blue in the face, shout as loud as we can, resist doing kind things, and in some cases retreat in silence and solitude. The flesh and blood placed in front of you, the one you are struggling with is not your enemy. In fact, God placed that person in your life or allowed that person in your life for some reason. I guarantee that.
When I begin to unpack Ephesians 6:10-17, the first thing I notice in verse 10 – “Draw your strength from the Lord.” That first verse tells me that the key to putting on the armor is to first trust God in your weakness and let Him be your strength. In verse 14, St Paul tells us to gird our loins in truth, to prepare and strengthen ourselves in God. He also tell us to be clothed with righteousness as a breastplate. In the book of Wisdom 5:16 it says that God will “shelter [the righteous] with His right hand and protect them with His arm.” So put your armor on, prepare yourself with God’s strength, His truth and allow Him to protect you by wrapping His arms around you. In verse 16, St Paul tells us to hold our faith as a shield, protecting us from the arrows. When it feels like your struggles are piercing you and the arrows are coming from every direction, hold on to your faith – trust in your Heavenly Father that all things work for His good. Finally in verse 17, he tells us to protect our heads with the salvation delivered by our Lord and use the Word of God as our weapon. Being Catholic, I look upon that last verse twofold. My sword, is both the Word found in the Bible and the Word made flesh found in the Eucharist, the body and blood of Jesus through His death, our salvation.
What I find in Ephesians 6 is that when I place my trust in God, allowing His strength to prevail in my weakness and Him to cover me in His arms, my faith burns like a fiery shield as I walk through the battle with the body and blood of my Lord and the love letter of my Heavenly Father lighting the darkness as I trod the battlefield of my life. Our battles will be numerous and the field will be treacherous, but if we fight with the right armor and the right weapon, we will always be victorious. Our God is a good God and His purpose in our lives is far beyond the battlefield. The battlefield is where He strengthens us because it is His strength that we draw on to win the wars in our lives. Next time you find yourself in the minefields, put on the “armor of God” and pick of the “sword of the Spirit.”