Yesterday I almost left for our walk – without my hat, and it reminded me of a day when I did forget that hat. Every morning John and I take an hour-long walk. We live in a warm, sunny climate, so 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 Florida sun.
In my defense, on that unfortunate day when I did forget my hat, the morning was cloudy. 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 the sun shone brighter, and I found myself taking off my sunglasses every few minutes to wipe the sweat dripping down my face with 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. I couldn’t help but think of how my hair would no longer be the color it was when I left the salon a few days before! There was going to be serious consequences for my forgetfulness.
Halfway through the walk, I began jogging the straightaways that were in full sun and walking 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 got me thinking about a Bible study that our group had done. In The Full 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. But 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, pride, insecurity, 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” of spiritual protection. As believers in Jesus Christ, we are to be strong in the strength of His power and might. (Eph. 6:10)
See, the Lord knows the struggles we face here on earth and has provided us not just with 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. It is embracing righteousness or living according to God’s expectations. It is bringing the peace of God to all our relationships and interactions. It is acting in faith by believing in God and trusting our lives to Him when we cannot see the road ahead. It is holding the promise of salvation in our hearts which gives us the courage of our convictions, and finally, it is the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God, which we use to guide and direct our lives.
When we put on the full armor of God, 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, start each morning with a prayer as you put on your armor – don’t leave home without your “hat!”
Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. God’s Word is an indispensable weapon. Throughout your life take…every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet. (Eph. 6:13-18 Message)