Thursday, August 7, 2014

Steel Helmets and Spiritual Armor

image source: Thru These Lines via Flikr

As I was reading in preparation for my list about World War 1 books, I came across an interesting anecdote. (I would tell you which book but I forgot to write it down. Note to self: your brain can not remember all the things you want it to. WRITE IT DOWN.)

When the Great War started, soldiers wore the soft caps they had been issued with their uniforms. No one in Britain or France was prepared for the new style of conflict, for how destructive it would be, with machine guns and trench warfare and snipers taking shots at your soldiers at all hours.

Obviously, they had to come up with a different solution, something that would actually protect a soldier's head. So, the steel helmet was born of necessity.

What happened after the steel helmets were introduced? Head injury numbers went...up.

I think if something like that happened in our military today the American Press would be screaming, "Get rid of the helmets! They cause head injuries!" Or something like that. Logic, of course, not being a strong point with our 24/7 media coverage of the "news".

Because there really is a simple reason why the injury numbers went up: wear a steel helmet, get shot, be injured and need medical attention.  Wear a soft cap, stick your head up over a trench side, be shot, die.

Do you walk through your spiritual life and think, why do all these bad things keep happening? I'm trying to do the right things, but I feel like I'm being attacked from every direction.

The Bible tells us that the spiritual life is a battle. Remember this passage?
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, (Ephesians 6:10-18 ESV)
When you're not in the battle, you don't need armor. When you've been saved by God's grace, you are born into a battle. But sometimes we're not aware of that battle. Sometimes, and I think this makes sense if you're saved as a child, you haven't taken up arms in spiritual warfare yet. Life doesn't change, not outwardly, not significantly. There seems to be a time of, well, I don't know what to call it exactly, other than grace: Grace to learn and grow in the Lord, almost like a non-combatant.

Then you begin to reach maturity, both physical and spiritual, and you begin to be aware of the larger issues around you. The darkness the world contains can seem overwhelming. The life you imagined isn't quite working out. Getting along, even with fellow Christians, is harder than you thought it would be. The news is full of terrible things, both unspeakable evil and banal distractions from what really matters.

You remember how the Bible tells Christians to "put on the whole armor of God". So you try, with the Holy Spirit's help, to do that.

And you immediately take a shot to the head.

That, obviously, can be discouraging.

But what if, instead of giving up, or declaring the armor useless, what if we thought about what it means? What if we take these attacks as evidence that we are actually on the battlefield and that we are actually fighting against something so much larger than ourselves? What if the fact that we're injured but not destroyed means the armor is working the way its supposed to?

Don't give up when you've taken a hit. Don't assume you'll never do anything great for God because you're just so bad at this spiritual warfare thing.

You may simply be wearing your spiritual armor for the first time.

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elizabeth said...

What a great point! Glad that I ended up right next to you at Lyli's this week!

Anonymous said...

Wow! great blog! A friend posted this to her FB page and I decided to see what it was about! loved it! I'm going to share also. May God bless you - keep up the good work.

Karen said...

Thanks so much for the encouragement!

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