Stay in the Game and Armor Up!

(This post is dedicated to Michael, my friend Christine’s son.  Hope you like it, Michael!)

I’ve always wondered what it would be like to play football.  I don’t mean flag football, or touch football in the back yard on Thanksgiving… I’ve done that.  I mean the full-gear, mouth-guard, grass-stained, body-slamming kind of football.  Those of you who know me and my 5’0″ stature and a hundred and none-of-your-business pounds might find that a bit odd.  But when I watch the pros (Go Cowboys!) I’m always fascinated by what it must feel like to be in the midst of such a physical and strategic battle.  Could I handle it?  Would I be equipped?

Paul tells us in Ephesians 6:10-18 that all around us in the spiritual world there is a battle taking place.  There is a game going on and we’re at the center of the action.  Satan and his minions are no match for God’s team of angels, but that sure doesn’t stop him  from trying to throw us off our game.  Our team’s strategy is to LOVE… to Love God and to Love Others.  That’s the goal.  On the other hand, Satan is doing everything he can to keep us from reaching that goal.  So, he distracts us.  He tries to tackle us.  He tries to keep us away from love by any means necessary.  Anything to throw us off our game.

Paul encourages us in these same verses to STAND FIRM!  And, just like a football player, in order to do that we need to put on the right equipment so we can stay in the game! There are six pieces of equipment that Paul talks about: the Belt of Truth, the Breastplate of Righteousness, the Shoes of the Gospel of Peace, the Shield of Faith, the Helmet of Salvation, and the Sword of the Spirit.  While it’s not exactly a football uniform, you can certainly see some definite similarities (belt = belt and padded pants; breastplate = shoulder pads; shoes = cleats; shield = linemen?; helmet = helmet; sword = possession of the ball).

You can find dozens and dozens of articles and commentaries that explain each one of these pieces and why Paul used them.  But, instead of quoting one of them here, I’ve decided to just share with you the prayer that I’ve come to pray every morning.  It’s not a superstitious prayer that “magically” protects me from Satan’s attack.  It’s just a way for me to get in step with God every morning and thank Him for the equipment He has given me so that I can face each day with confidence and the battle that lies ahead.

Dear Lord,

Thank you for another day.  Thank you for the opportunities you are going to give me to love you and to love others.  Help me to keep my eyes on You and never lose sight of the goal to love. 

I put on the Belt of Truth.  Jesus, you are the way, the TRUTH, and the life.  Wrap yourself around me today.  Protect me on all sides.  Be in me and move through me.  You are the foundation upon which I can stand firm.

I put on the Breastplate of Righteousness.  Lord, it’s your perfect righteousness that the Father sees when He looks at me.  Thank you for that gift!  Lord, I pray that my righteousness… my desire to do what pleases you… will look more and more like your righteousness everyday.  Protect my heart by teaching me your righteous ways.

I put on the Shoes of the Gospel of Peace.  Lord, you have laid out the steps you want me to take today.  Help me to follow them.  May I be about YOUR business today, not mine.  May I be about delivering the “Good News” to those who need to hear it.  And may I bring peace wherever my feet lead me.

I take up the Shield of Faith.  Lord, I thank you for the faithfulness of your faithfulness.  You never fail me!  Help me to be in tuned to the battle around me.  Help me to lift up this shield when I begin to sense that Satan is trying to attack.  And when I am too weak to lift it… Lord, I know you are strong!  Be my shield.  Protect me.

I put on the Helmet of Salvation.  Lord, helmets tell us and everyone around us what team we’re on.  Help me to never forget that I am one of yours!  I am a child of the King!  Help others to see you in me today.  And protect my thoughts so that they are always centered on you!

And lastly, I take with me the Sword of the Spirit.  There is only one weapon I need to fight my enemy and it is your Word!  Lord, bring to mind your Word so that I may not only be able to defeat the enemy, but I may be able to encourage and love others.  Remind me of your Word when I get off track.  Bring me back to you.  Help me to spend time in your Word each day so that I can keep this weapon sharp.

Thank you, Jesus, for every piece of this armor.  Bless this day and all you have for me to do.  In your name I pray, amen.

May we all recognize the battle that rages around us.  May we be strong and stand firm in the Lord, relying on the equipment He has given us and His mighty power!

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