I love me some swords clanging against shields, shields shielding against arrows, and the valiant – if violent – strength displayed in such scenes. After accepting Christ, I wondered if I’d have to give up this guilty pleasure. All. That. Violence. Then I read about wearing God’s full armor. Well, well, well.
It seemed like a lot. Requiring spiritual strength. And #skills.
I started to wonder: In our 21st century life, when the violence can definitely be brutal, yet is often much more subtle – how can you get strong enough?
Explore this question with me in a 9-part storytelling devotional series that first looks at our full suit of armor, then each of the seven pieces in turn, and finally the full suit again. It’ll be like a novena, but much less structured – yet not relaxed.
Because if you’re putting on a full suit of armor –
You’re suiting up for war.
What IS the Full Armor of God?
“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. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.” Ephesians 6:13-18a (NIV)
I first became aware of these verses and the notion that there was something called “the full armor of God” during the months between my acceptance of Christ as my Savior, and my baptism. Ooh, goody, I thought. Maybe I could live out one of my many Netflix sword-and-shield fantasies!
I had also thought this passage was, perhaps, a bit of Beowulf-like poetry in this letter from the apostle Paul.
On the morning of my baptism, though, I would fully realize: Paul wasn’t a poet.
When do you put this armor on anyway?
I was getting ready on baptism morning, very excited and a little nervous. I was reviewing in my head the card I had filled out that I would read aloud to our entire congregation before stepping into the water.
There were two sentences on the card, and you had to pick a single word to complete each sentence. The first sentence was, “Before Christ, I was – fill-in-the-blank.” The second sentence was, “In Christ, now I am – fill-in-the-blank.”
I was excited because, as a writer, I felt my chosen words artfully described my relationship with Christ. I was nervous because, as a writer, would people understand the words I had chosen? My words weren’t ones I had heard people say before.
My 15-year-old ran upstairs to brush his teeth, and he, too, was excited. He had gotten baptized six months earlier; his sentences were, “Before Christ, I was a sinner, and in Christ, now I am saved.”
Watching him declare those statements with such certainty was profound, and his sentences were etched into my brain and engraved onto my heart.
Apparently, his sentences had also made a strong impression on my husband, which I didn’t realize until this brief whisper of a moment while our son was out of earshot. My husband, who, as of the time of this writing, is not a believer in Christ, sidled up next to me – playfully, it seemed – and practically purred into my ear, as if tickling me, “I hope you’re not going to say the same thing he said at his baptism.”
In that very instant, before my human brain could fully perceive the words in that sentence, I felt a physical weight placed upon me – and I knew.
I was 1000% sure that the Holy Spirit had just placed the full armor of God upon me.
Because Satan had just used my husband to try to derail my baptism.
I Can’t Believe How Cocky I Was With This New Armor
Seriously, as soon as I felt that physical sensation, I knew what it was, and I knew what had just happened. And I felt so awesome about it, like I was in a real-life version of one of my favorite Netflix sword-and-shield binges and had just been knighted!
I looked squarely at my husband and said inside my head, to Satan, “Bring it.”
In hindsight, what a noob I was! I couldn’t even name the seven pieces of God’s armor, let alone wield any one of them properly. What was I thinking? I wasn’t a high-ranking officer in God’s army, like Paul; I was barely a recruit.
The sentence that came out of my mouth to my husband was, “You’ll see what words I’m going to say.”
Thinking I was all that – like, ooh, wasn’t God getting the best soldier in me that day – I turned on my heel, our son came downstairs, and we all went to my baptism.
Can You Actually Ever Get Strong Enough to Carry the Weight of It?
BaptismMy baptism was glorious. People I’d never met came up to me and said I was glowing. I felt like I was glowing. A little girl I didn’t know came up to me and danced around me in celebration. How delightful!
I felt like I could conquer anything with this great armor on. I just knew I was going to be a great soldier.
Until the next day.
Actually, the entire week after my baptism was disastrous. Everything went wrong. I doubted every decision. Then, the following horrible week threw me into complete bewilderment. God’s armor didn’t seem to be helping. It didn’t seem to fit me at all. I felt like I kept dropping pieces, crying with embarrassment as they clattered to the floor.
My ridiculous, imaginary Netflix debut would certainly get cancelled.
I clearly was not strong enough to carry all this heavy spiritual metal, and why, oh, why did I ever have the audacity to taunt Satan the way I did?
“Welcome to bootcamp!” said the Holy Spirit.
Thus began my study of God’s armor and God’s Word in true earnest. The rest of this devotional series is the story of, well, how I have humbly, daily, begged the Holy Spirit to train me. And how that training has gone so far.
And BTW, what WERE my baptism sentences?
“Before Christ, I was darkened. In Christ, now I am aflame!”
- When did you first hear about putting on the full armor of God?
- How well do you think you wear – and wield – any one piece of it?
- Which piece of God’s armor do you feel the weakest at using?
- Because this matters: Jot down – put in your phone, scribble in your journal, or even send me an email – YOUR story about wearing God’s armor… perhaps a struggle and a victory! PS I do read all my emails myself: firstname.lastname@example.org
Ready to learn why Paul listed the Belt of Truth first? And get a good laugh at what a “just right” aerobics class outfit in the 80’s has to do with that?