I recently spent a week in Wisconsin. I know what you’re thinking; Wisconsin isn’t exactly a tourist destination in January. In fact, while I was there, my cute leopard-print flats were rendered completely useless in favor of thick, wool-lined, lace-up boots. While packing, I thought, “I don’t need to pack boots, it’s not like we’re going to be walking around in the snow.” Whoops. The first day I was there, we walked up and down the shoreline of Lake Michigan in the snow. Thank goodness for borrowed boots! And, thank goodness I had a friend who was prepared when I wasn’t.
My lack of Wisconsin winter preparation got me thinking about how I can tend to do the same thing, spiritually. In Wisconsin, we didn’t leave the house without putting on multiple layers of clothes (“Could I BE wearing any more clothes?!”). But, how often do I leave home without any spiritual preparation or protection?
In Ephesians 6, Paul gives believers instructions about how to put on the armor of God. We, in Christ, have these tools at our disposal every day: the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shoes of the Gospel of peace, the helmet of salvation, the sword of the spirit, and the shield of faith. Paul tells us: “Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this darkness, against evil, spiritual forces in the heavens” (v. 12).
I have lived and walked with Jesus long enough to be able to agree with Paul: There is a very real enemy who wants us to fail. He is even now aiming his fiery darts at me and you (Ephesians 6:16). But, just as I would not walk barefoot out into the Wisconsin snow, I don’t walk around in my everyday life unprotected from the one who wants to harm me. I have armor. I have a shield. I have a sword. But, I must choose, each day, to wear the armor, to pick up the shield, to wield the sword. Otherwise, I’m dead—frozen to death.
What does it look like to wear this protection day in and day out? It’s a discipline: just as putting on (what feels like) seventy layers of clothing, gloves, scarf, coat, etc. can be cumbersome, preparing yourself for daily spiritual battle isn’t easy. It takes time. But, the patience and persistence of putting it on each day means that we have protection from a very real enemy.
Ephesians 6:13 says, “For this reason take up the full armor of God, so that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having prepared everything, to take your stand.” More than anything else in life, I want to be able to take my stand for the gospel of Jesus Christ. I believe following Him is worth all the hardships and fiery darts life throws my way. So, I put on the armor He provides, knowing that attacks will come, but trusting in the One who will triumph in the end.
And, next time I visit Wisconsin in January, I’ll pack my boots.
Corley Shumaker serves as Assistant Campus Minister at the Baptist Collegiate Ministry at Arkansas State University. She loves Red Wolves football, nail polish, and flowers. You can find her on Twitter at @corleycline.