Yesterday I left for a walk … without my hat! Almost every morning, my husband, John, and I take an hour-long walk, and because we live in a warm, sunny climate, we never leave without our sunglasses and our signature hats. They are made out of SPF 50 fabric and have big wide brims that protect us from the strong sun, particularly now in mid-July. In my defense, it was a cloudy morning and we had been walking for about ten minutes before the sun decided to peek out from behind the clouds, at which point, I incredulously reached my hand up to my head and said to John, “did I forget my hat?” What was I thinking? I guess I wasn’t!
At first, I tried to convince myself that I would be fine, the sun would tuck back behind the clouds and surely I could get through an hour. But as the time went on and the sun shone brighter, I found myself taking off my sunglasses every few minutes to wipe the sweat dripping down my face on my sleeve. I could feel the sting as my nose and cheeks began to burn, and even with my sunglasses on, I was seriously squinting. There were going to be consequences for my forgetfulness.
Halfway through the walk, I began jogging the straightaways that were in full sun, and then I walked slowly through the shade of the little palm oases that dotted our path. As I did that, I realized that I had taken for granted how much my hat protected me from the powerful rays of the sun each day, and that made me think of the Bible study our group did over the winter. In The Armor of God, by Priscilla Shirer, we learned that there are spiritual forces behind the everyday battles that we face in life. Really, our battles are not against each other, but against the dark forces of this world. The enemy wants us to focus on the physical manifestations of our problems and NOT the spiritual so he can create the anger, anxiety, doubt, unforgiveness, pride, insecurity, discord, discouragement, and fear to disrupt our lives. Just like we have to understand the power of the sun, we need to understand the power of the spiritual forces that are always looking to take advantage of us anytime we forget our “hat!” Ephesians 6:10-13 says, Be strong with the Lord’s strength. 11 Put on the things God gives you to fight with. Then you will not fall into the traps of the devil. 12 Our fight is not with people. It is against the leaders and the powers and the spirits of darkness in this world. It is against the demon world that works in the heavens. 13 Because of this, put on all the things God gives you to fight with. Then you will be able to stand in that sinful day. When it is all over, you will still be standing.
See, the Lord knows what we face here on earth and has provided us with not just a hat, but a full suit of armor to protect ourselves. If we read on in Ephesians, the full armor is described. It is using God’s truth as our core of support, abiding in righteousness – or living according to God’s expectations, bringing the peace of God to all our relationships and interactions, acting in faith – believing in God and trusting Him when we cannot see the road ahead, holding the promise of salvation in our hearts which gives us the courage of our convictions, and finally, wielding the sword of the Spirit – the Word of God – which we use to guide and direct our lives. When we put on this armor, we are strong in the Lord and are protected from the elements that can beat us down. So wherever you are and whatever you are doing, each morning start with a prayer as you put on the full armor of God, and don’t leave home without that “hat!”