BE strong

There are days when I feel ever so grateful and aware of each breath, each rhythmic thump of my heart, and each wisp of air as it gently passes through my hair. As I am on the 'back-half' of my life now, I think I fully appreciate each morning I awaken without an ache or pain bothering me, find my blood pressure within normal range, or just simply start the day with a leisurely pace. There haven't been many of these moments, but I have had a couple of those "life or death" moments - car spinning out of control on an icy roadway, or even narrowly missing a multiple car pile up because I was able to pull up onto an embankment quickly. Perhaps we get too caught up in life at times to even realize the type of fight we are really in - more moments than we might imagine as "life or death" occurring all around us. In the moments we take to actually pause long enough to look around, we often discover we are in the fight of our life!

God is strong, and he wants you strong. So take everything the Master has set out for you, well-made weapons of the best materials. And put them to use so you will be able to stand up to everything the Devil throws your way. This is no afternoon athletic contest that we'll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels. (Ephesians 6:10-12)

It is a good thing we are given well-made weapons of the best materials, isn't it? Yet, a weapon in a locked cabinet, or hidden away in the recesses of a drawer is of little use! We need to "put on" all we are given - not just parts and pieces, selectively chosen as the "attire" we WANT to put on that day like we might do from our own bedroom closet. To be truthful, there are days when I don't want to be in shoes. I just want to walk around barefoot - comfortable, not bound up in a shoe - allowing my 'thermo-regulators' known as my feet to just breathe. My toes are a whole lot more likely to get stubbed and having broken a couple this past year, I don't wanna stub them ever! I may not WANT to wear the shoes, but they actually protect me in ways I might not fully appreciate. At work, for example, I wear them to keep me from getting unwanted germs on my body - from creeping into the dark spaces between my toes and under my nails. As I walk on the street, I wear them to keep my feet from frying to a crisp in the hot Arizona sun! In winter, I wear them because my feet get cold without them. The shoes serve a very worthwhile purpose - different depending on the circumstance, but a significant purpose nonetheless.

Truth be told, I think we all need to hear this: We are not in an afternoon athletic contest here! Back in the day, families would break out the softball and bat, football and goal posts, or a Frisby and some buckets to do a little yard activity after mealtime. An afternoon athletic contest is not really a "contest", but a time of "playing around" with being an "athlete". Sure, we get a little exercise in the process, but it isn't really a "contest". This walk with Christ is not a leisurely thing! It is a fight to the death! Someone is after our lives and that someone is a pretty devious enemy! If he has skin in this game, isn't it time for us to put as much skin in the game? We don't need to go up against any enemy unprepared. We have been given the best of all weapons - the Word of God holding us strong, the righteousness of Christ guarding our hearts, the peace of Christ guiding each step we take, faith grounded in assurance of the protective power of our God at our fingertips, the blood of Christ covering and making our minds strong. Above all, we have the sword of the Spirit - the Word of God. All in all - no one piece stands alone - no one piece is to be left off, ignored, or disregarded. We could be totally "clad" in armor and have absolutely no weapon to launch an attack! At best, without a weapon in our hands, we can only stand against the attack for so long - we can defend a while, but not forever! This is why we need the Word in our hand - the Spirit of God using it to defend us and to divide truth from lie.

As we begin a new year, consider the battle. As much as we might want to take shortcuts in life, our time spent each and every day with Jesus isn't wasted or insignificant time. Maybe we need to be consistent with the application of what we have been given for our defense more than we need to take the shortcut of just 'glossing over' what God wants to speak into our lives today! We are in the fight of our lives - like it or not. This is no afternoon athletic contest - it is the real deal! We need the real deal when it comes to both our defense and our offense if we are to be able to stand up in this fight until the end! I don't want an unprotected heart, or an easily influenced mind! You don't either! So, gird up! The battle's on! Just sayin!

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