Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "Footprints Of Jesus"1 (Lyrics)
Many years ago, I saw a war film, Full Metal Jacket, about a group of infantrymen during the Vietnam War. The scene I remember most vividly, which has stuck with me over the years, opened with the men returning to base camp from leave. They were dressed in their civilian clothes and were in a happy mood, clowning around as they entered the gates of the compound. No sooner were they inside the gate than they were approached by an officer who curtly ordered them to prepare immediately to go out on patrol. The frivolous mood immediately changed to one of intense grimness as the men entered their barracks and changed from civilian clothes to combat gear, preparing to go in harm's way. With silent determination, they set about putting on their combat fatigues and socks, and lacing up their heavy boots. Then they put on the heavy web belts and ammunition pouches. Each man checked his personal weapons and side arms, and then finally put on his helmet and backpack. The sergeant checked each man's equipment to make sure all was in good order, then he simply turned and said in a calm, authoritative voice, "Lock and load. Let's go."
I was reminded of this movie, because recently, I have been taking a course in ancient Greek history, part of which is the poetry of Tyrtaeus of Sparta (c. 630 BC). The poet describes the bravest stance of the hoplite warrior as being one in which his feet are planted firmly on the ground, his shield held securely facing the enemy, his spear ready to thrust at the forward ranks, and his breastplate and helmet shining in the sun. This image of a confident, steadfast, well-armed, and well-protected warrior is also reflected in the writings of St. Paul. During my morning walks lately, I have been considering Paul's injunction to "put on the full armour of God" (Ephesians 6:11a NIV). Paul reminds us that we are daily exposed to the trials and tribulations of the world, the temptations to lust, greed, and anger, and all the difficulties of living in a depraved culture of physical, spiritual, and emotional violence. However, this does not mean that we as Christians do not participate in society. As followers of Jesus, we do not retreat from the world. Jesus said:
John 17:15,18 – My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. (NIV)
Thankfully, the Lord does not send us in harm's way spiritually unarmed or unprotected. Paul's assertive injunction is, "Put on the full armour of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand." (Ephesians 6:13 NIV)
Paul then goes on to describe the full panoply of God's armour:
Ephesians 6:14-17 – Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled round your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. (NIV)
Each morning when we put on the full regalia of God's spiritual armour, we need the Lord Jesus to check our equipment to see that it is in good order. We need to pray continually in the Spirit for the gifts of the Spirit, to be filled daily with faith, hope, and love. With Him by our side and fully clad in the armour of light, we need fear no evil. We can then face the trials and tribulations of the day with confidence, steadfastness, and the rootedness that comes from the sure knowledge that it is Jesus who touches us on the shoulder, and gently and lovingly says to us in a calm, quiet voice, "Lock and load, my faithful friend. Let's go!"
Prayer: Dear God, as we walk through this valley of life, grant us the protection of Your rod, Your staff, and Your armour of light. May we stand with feet firmly rooted in your Son, Jesus, and with the encouragement of the Spirit to face the day fearlessly and with the confidence that You will always be our protection. Amen.