Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Full On Battle!

Finally, build up your strength in union with the Lord and by means of his mighty power.  Put on all the armor that God gives you, so that you will be able to stand up against the Devil's evil tricks.  For we are not fighting against human beings but against the wicked spiritual forces in the heavenly world, the rulers, authorities, and cosmic powers of this dark age.  So put on God's armor now! Then when the evil day comes, you will be able to resist the enemy's attacks; and after fighting to the end, you will still hold your ground.
  
So stand ready, with truth as a belt tight around your waist, with righteousness as your breastplate, and as your shoes the readiness to announce the Good News of peace.  At all times carry faith as a shield; for with it you will be able to put out all the burning arrows shot by the Evil One.  And accept salvation as a helmet, and the word of God as the sword which the Spirit gives you.  Do all this in prayer, asking for God's help. Pray on every occasion, as the Spirit leads. For this reason keep alert and never give up; pray always for all God's people.  (Ephesians 6:10-18, GNT)

I am not one of a kind.  I have several colleagues in the special needs community who have children with a diagnosis just as I do.  And there are times when God is moving His work forward through us when we come under attack more than usual.  Nothing seems to be off-limits to the evil powers of this world.  Our personal finances, our marriages, municipal negotiations we engage in, and the status of our organizations all walk around with a target painted on them.  No doubt, one of our biggest vulnerabilities is our children.

Several recent medical crises that a number of my co-laborers in Christ have experienced with their children have opened my eyes widely.  I am not one who believes in coincidence.  I have seen too much and know better.  This particular group of colleagues are all a part of an amazing project that is beginning to see some forward momentum.  Our response has been to come together in prayer, put on our full armor, and believe in the power of the One who defeated death itself.

While this story serves as a clear illustration, the fact is that no believer is exempt.  This idea may seem to be a bit far fetched for the average church-goer.  Still, the fact remains that God confirms in His word the unseen activity of Satan's oppositional forces.  "The evil one", as he is known, would love nothing more than to harass or discourage every one of Christ's followers.  Stealing people's testimony of faith and their living, outward example of hope is a small win for the devil.

The question then becomes, in a practical way, how do we resist the enemy's attacks in our times of trial?  Let's pull apart what we are told to do.  Putting on the full armor of God implies to us that every piece of what we are being instructed to do is necessary to be properly equipped for battle.

HOLDING IT TOGETHER

Paul begins his instruction with the belt of truth.  How do we wrap ourselves in truth if we do not know the truth?  With the busy lives of those in the position of caring for someone with a special needs, it may not be possible to find a large chunk of time to steep ourselves in the truth of God's word on a daily basis.  But many tools are available for our help in this era.  When we are traveling to doctor's appointments or even addressing the many responsibilities at home, we can listen to audio versions of the Bible.  In this internet age, there are also many tools available online like BibleGateway.com and YouVersion.com to aid us in our access to scripture.  Regardless of how we plug into God's word, it is essential that we immerse ourselves in the truth He pours out through His word.

GUARDING OUR HEARTS

The next piece of equipment we are instructed to clothe ourselves in is "the breastplate of righteousness".  According to Unger's Bible Dictionary, righteousness includes "being and doing right".  Our hearts, the seat of our affections, are guarded by that mighty breastplate. We are unable to live above reproach on our own, especially when we live lives in crisis. As a result, we are to be clothed in the righteousness of God, not ourselves.  (See 2 Corinthians 5:21)  To break it down further, this righteousness comes from full reliance on the goodness of God, not from our own abilities.  Clothing ourselves in the goodness of Christ will certainly ready us to resist the devil.

USHERING IN CALM

The shoes of the "gospel of peace" are the next essential elements of our battle garb.  In a practical way, what this amounts to is our willingness and readiness to share openly with others what the Lord has done in our lives.  When we can point others to the living hope that has been poured out in and through our lives, it most surely confounds Satan's plans.  (See 1 Peter 3:15)  After all, parents like us should have reason to be hopeless, according to the world.  When we are ready in any season of life to share with others how we have a joy that transcends our circumstances, there is great divine power!

DEFLECTING DOUBT

Faith's shield deflects all of the doubt, despair, and undermining of our trust in the Lord.  In fact, every trial we go through as a Christian should make that shield larger and larger.  Only by its testing does faith grow.  The longer we walk in faith, the more unshakable that faith should be after seeing what God has brought us and our loved ones through.

MIND YOUR HEAD

Our next piece of equipment must be the "helmet of salvation".  Our thought life must be guarded at all times.  In fact, God's word has plenty to say about our "stinkin' thinkin'." We are supposed to take control of our minds just like a soldier takes captive a prisoner. (See 2 Corinthians 10:5) We are warned that we become what we think about. (See Proverbs 23:7) Making certain that we get enough sleep and accepting all the help offered to us will be key in assuring that we have this component covering us.  If we are neglectful of this helmet, we'll find our minds wandering to bad places and the discouragement of Satan creeping in.

FIGHT BACK WITH HIS WEAPON

The word of God is the "sword of the Spirit".  What does this look like?  Again, immersing ourselves in the precious promises of the Bible, committing verses to memory, opens the door for the Spirit to instantly bring those verses to mind when they are most needed.  From personal experience, this is an amazing encouragement when the battle gets long and ugly!

CONSTANT COMMUNICATION

Adornment of all of this equipment is to be accompanied by prayer.  Constant communication with our Savior will tune our ears to His voice in the midst of our circumstances.  Tuning out the deception and confusion the devil attempts to trick us with can only be possible by continual communication with our Father.  We share our worries, pains and concerns with Him.  He equips us, encourages us and sends us back out there as His ambassadors.

Friends, as parents of children with special needs, we are in a full-on battle!  Don't go forward today without your uniform on.

Pray:  Lord, equip me!  I rely on You alone.  The battle is Yours.  Lead me and ready me to come through life's crises victorious, just as You intend.

~ Barb Dittrich

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