I love to read. What does this have to do with the great cover up? Patience young grasshoppers!
As I was saying, I love to read. But I wish the obsession with books stopped right there. The truth is that it goes WAAAAAAY deeper than that. I actually love my books. I protect them, baby them, carefully hold them and caress them as I read. My most cherished gifts are usually Bares and Noble gift cards!
At any rate, I was taking inventory of my slew of books the other day — checking for bent pages and coffee stains and so forth on the ones I’ve loaned out. I found a few and practically had to be given oxygen to recover from the shock and betrayal of friends mistreating my precious little paper friends so. But I got over that and decided instead to have the books dusted for fingerprints, the results sent to the FBI, indictments prepared subpoenas mailed out, and prison terms suggested for the culprits. Or, to save on time and postage, I might just ask people to be more careful. :)
The truth is, books are a bit sacred to me. I was looking through some of my older books the other day (again taking special note of bent pages and coffee stains) and noticed that the ones I’ve placed a protective, plastic cover on are still looking quite good. I even have the original paperback edition of the Lord of the rings trilogy! It’s still looking like it did when I was 12 because I put plastic covers on all three of them. Some of the books I over looked; however, are now ready for the paperback graveyard. Alas, they are in the final stages of becoming mulch.
As I was doing this inventory on my books I thought about all the other things we try to protect in this life. We (or, at least, “I”) have Armor All for the car tires, scotch guard for my clothing, weed and feed for the grass. clear coat on my car finish, sealant for my deck, mothballs for the clothes in the closet, glasses cases for my sunglasses, a phone holster for my crackberry, stain for the hardwood floors, envelopes for my letters, passwords for my accounts — everyone getting the picture or do I need to keep going with this?
It’s flat out amazing to me the lengths to which most of us will go to protect stuff that has absolutely NO CHANCE of lasting forever yet, at the same time, we will do NEXT TO NOTHING to protect the spiritual condition of our hearts (which DO LAST FOREVER).
Ephesians 6 is the Armor All chapter of the Bible. All the protective tools you need to thrive spiritually are right there. That’s what my quiet time was on today. And I couldn’t help but be struck by how often I go out to do battle (spiritually speaking) with little or no armor on. Granted, most of the time I have almost all the pieces of my spiritual armor on — it’s rare if ever that I go out just completely unarmed or completely unprotected. But I’m FLOORED by how often I leave out just one or two of the MOST VITAL PIECES! I might as well be half naked! Spiritually speaking, that is. I apologize if I just gave you a mental picture you’ll now need therapy to get rid of. :)
Let me explain.
When I was young I used to go outside in the winter with less than adequate clothing. I”d go play in the snow in a t-shirt or run around throwing snowballs and making snow angels with top-sider shoes on but no socks! And my mother would always say the same thing to me, “you can’t go outside like that! You’re half naked!”
What’s the deal with that phrase? I’ve always understood naked to be a sort of all or nothing thing. But, apparently my mother thought it was a pretty serious offense even if you were only half guilty.
Looking back, she may have had a point — not on those snowy days and how I was dressed mind you, but about the whole, half naked concept. Half naked can be bad…half the time! And it makes a HUGE difference for males as to which ‘half’ we are referring to. Even worse for females. Sorry ladies.
But I digress…back to the armor of God and Ephesians 6.
Look at this,
“Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on all of Godâ€™s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. 12 For we[c] are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore, put on every piece of Godâ€™s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm.”
Then the apostle Paul (who, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, wrote Ephesians) lists out each vitally important piece in the following verses.
14 Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of Godâ€™s righteousness. 15 For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared.[d] 16 In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil.[e] 17 Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.
But here’s where I often MISS THE POINT. I often pick and choose which pieces I want to wear for that particular day or occasion. Quite often, just to be blunt, I go out to face the day, spiritually ‘half naked.’
What good would it be if I am up against a powerful and crafty enemy (and I am) if I remembered my shield of faith, but forgot my breastplate of righteousness? As the enemy assaults me I may be able to deflect MOST of his fiery darts, but it only take one to get past my shield. If his aim was good (and it almost always is) and the shot was not deflected through prayer (and that’s TOO OFTEN the case) then my lack of righteousness is going to be my undoing.
No, friends, my mom was right about the whole ‘half naked’ thing. And it’s even more crucial when dealing with spiritual matters.
If you go ‘out there’ and face the world with all it’s temptations and corruption half naked, you might as well be a full on STREAKER (no, I’m not advocating streaking! — There’s always someone who grabs hold of something that isn’t there…just thought I’d beat you to it this time :) ).
Do what God says.
Put on your spiritual armor.
All of it.
No one wants to see you naked.
…even half naked.