I love Oswald Chamber’s views on the point of putting on the armor of God. He expresses that it’s not a picture of how to fight, but one of how not to fight. Ephesians 6:13 clearly says, “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.” What? Nothing about suiting up and jumping into the fray? Interestingly, no. The next verse also employs us, “Stand therefore…” with our waists girded with truth, our chest covered by righteousness, our feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace, and above all, the shield of faith “with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.” We then don the helmet of salvation to protect our mind (for the battle truly does begin in the mind!) and the sword of the Spirit – the Word of God, praying always in the Spirit and being watchful…we stand.
I admit, that sounds a bit boring to me at first look. And yet, the astonishing truth is that it is a far cry from boring. There are attacks going left and right and we have to discern with a clear mind (remember that helmet?) and use the shield of faith quickly and appropriately. Truth and righteousness must be tightened and ready to roll for a sudden move we may have to make to avoid being hit or blindsided with a lie. Constantly we are being bombarded with attacks and sometimes a sneaky arrow makes it past our shield and finds a way around the helmet and lands in the mind. We then have to immediately discern, “Where did this thought come from? Is it of the mind of Christ, is it according to Philippians 4:8? OR is it a lie straight from hell?” And so, we “fight” by resisting, by standing firm.
Recently I experienced this “fighting by standing” in such a tangible way I just have to share it. Around the first of the year we got hit with a financial blow. Somehow our house had been rezoned by FEMA and after 18 years we were all of a sudden found to be in a flood zone. As a result, the banks were claiming they had a right to force us to buy flood insurance for a minimum of the balance of our mortgage. It was a blindside and came at a difficult time. My work hours were being reduced and coming off a holiday we were tighter than usual. However, we did our due diligence and researched the matter and found that we did indeed have to comply so we began to search for a policy we could afford. Finally we found an insurance agent who even knew what we were talking about and better yet, knew how to deal with it to get it put on our escrow instead of having to pay the whole policy upfront. With about a week to go before the bank forced a $2200 policy on us, we got our forms submitted and thought the matter was accomplished. The day following our submission, the bank forced the $2200 policy on us, attaching it to our equity line of credit. We received the notice a few days later. Bottom line, I was seriously frustrated! We had done our due diligence, we had submitted the policy request for our escrow with plenty of time to go and somehow, we were still being forced the bank policy AND to our detriment for when they charged our equity line without our knowledge (we received the letter after the fact) they put it over limit. We called and explained that we had a policy sent in to no avail. They were not accepting our request to escrow the account. I was extremely frustrated and getting more so as the days went by.
To make things worse, about a week later I get a call from collections on our equity line. Unfortunately, I did not handle that phone call well. I lit into that poor lady and I have to say, she took it very well. She calmly talked me down from my high perch on my tree of frustration and explained that her call was a case of one department not knowing what the other department had done and promised to sort things out. In the end, she did not really sort things out but came back with the same response all the other departments had, that no, they were not accepting our application for escrow from the insurance company. After spending 3/4’s of my lunch hour one day going in circles with phone calls, I finally just stopped and prayed (genius, huh?) Oh, I had prayed before this and God had revealed to us the direction to go (it took a fair amount of prayer and searching to find all the necessary documentation needed to get the appropriate policy) but as things continued to go wrong instead of right, I found myself wanting to fight, not pray. I had my weapons out (my weapons, not God’s!) and I was ready to take someone out – preferably the entire bank. As I sat there in my frustration, I simply said, “God, I don’t know what to do anymore. We have done what You guided us to, we have submitted what we thought was the right thing. I’m stuck. Please help me know what to do.” It wasn’t like I got an instant message from God or even a moment of clarity but through the fog a thought slowly began to form. It was vague but I took it. Maybe I had misunderstood something along the way. Maybe I should call the insurance agent again and see if that was the case. I called and she confirmed that I had understood her all the way and now she wasn’t sure what the problem was. However, she offered to do a three-way call with the bank and see if she could help with the matter. So, for the next 1/2 hour, she called and talked and I…listened. I just listened. I tried to talk once but got interrupted so I got the point and just stopped talking. She talked to 3 departments, very calmly by the way, and finally realized that the wrong account number had been submitted and that the mortgage side didn’t initiate the escrow application (or call anyone to confirm the number) and that was where the issue got convoluted. She set up all the arrangements to get the matter resolved and at the end of it all, there I was, just listening. Right after this, I read my devotion and it was Oswald Chamber’s take on NOT fighting! Talk about getting the point!
I am a fighter. I very much enjoy winning an argument. I don’t look for a fight, but if someone throws a punch I’m pretty quick to want to throw one back. I’m all over getting suited up and running into the fray (after all that part of me is what led me to join the military at age 18!) But, God’s way of fighting is we suit up, and He fights for us. I don’t know about you, but for me the fight came in learning how to get the suit on right in the first place! The last thing Satan wants is for you and I to be fully suited, because then he knows that at that point the One he is fighting is no longer you. As long as we are not fully suited up, he can win. But the moment we really get what the armor is for, how it works and put the thing securely on, we are more dangerous than he wants to deal with. At that point, the battle changes big time but only if we really understand how to not fight. Faith is refusing to panic but we can only do that if we suit up and stand!