Teaching Men How to Fight Like a Girl
"Stand firm...HAVING PUT ON THE BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS." Ephesians 6:14
Great men of God have come to the same conclusion about His purpose for their lives, but they always seem to have unique ways of expressing it. This kind of variety is fascinating to me. God speaks through the different personalities and the life experiences of people, but maintains the clarity of His purpose. Bill Stafford says, "God's plan for you life is to knock you out of you so that He can fill you with Himself." Thanks, "Wild" Bill, I needed that. If you have difficulty swallowing what is served up by this fine Tennessee revival preacher, then take a look at what Oswald Chambers, urbane, English, and a professor of psychology turned chaplain had to say. "His purpose is not the development of a man. His purpose is to make a man exactly like Himself, and the characteristic of the Son of Man was self-expenditure. If we believe in Jesus, it is not what we gain, but what He pours through us that counts." Chuck Swindoll said, "Those who have endured the stinging experiences are the choicest counselors God can every use." See what I mean? The weapons of our warfare are meant to enable us to reveal more about Jesus than to receive honor for ourselves.
So what is this breastplate of righteousness all about, and what does it have to do with standing firm in the face of an attack from the evil one. Proverbs gives us a clue. "He is a shield to those who walk in integrity, guarding the paths of justice and He preserves the way of His godly ones. Then you will discern righteousness and justice and equity and every good course for wisdom will enter your heart...to deliver you from the way of evil." Prov. 2:12
The most important element in this passage is not the breastplate, but the righteousness. Notice the portion of the reference that is in caps..."THE BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS." This refers to an Old Testament prophecy about the coming Messiah in Isaiah 11:5. Jesus is the one that is prophesied about, and it is His righteousness that is the focus. The breastplate protected the vital organs of the body from destructive penetration of the weapons of the enemy. There was no hope for survival without this kind of barrier, and there is no hope of salvation without a Savior. Jesus is our righteousness. It is His substitutionary death on the cross that provided the righteousness for believers that only His blood could purchase. He paid the price for our sin. When a person comes to the end of themselves, realizes their need for a Savior, and identifies with His death as the substitution for their sin, then they are declared right in the eyes of a Holy God. The blood of Jesus was a flood of love from His Father that washed away the ultimate weapon in enemy's arsenal, death. It would no longer have the power to inflict frantic fear and ultimate, eternal separation between God and His children.
The forces of evil will always try to get the followers of God to doubt the love of God for His children. They will accuse the soldiers in the line of being posers, and weaklings that cannot withstand exposure of their lives to the light of day. The enemy will accuse the faithful of being hypocrites, failures, and losers in the eyes of the God they follow. Their accusations become laughable when the well armored soldier can pound on the breastplate of righteousness and drown out the the voice of their accusers. The follower of Christ knows that what stands between them and the enemy has been provided to him by the blood of Jesus, and the grace of God. Followers who stand firm will always place the breastplate of righteousness between themselves and the enemy's arrows. When the flaming missiles of deceit, discouragement, delusion, and disillusionment start flying towards them they refuse to turn their backs, but thrust out their chests and let their blood bought breastplate do their fighting for them. They can stand firm because they do not stand alone. They stand right in the eyes of God and in the name of His Son, Jesus.
Men come into this world looking out for themselves. They are convinced they have alot to live for, and from the moment they are born they are screaming for what they want from a woman. They have to learn how to give themselves away, but have never had to take a course in how to get what they want. From the time they are born they know how to let a woman know their needs are not being met. They just scream. The shame of it all is that some men never grow out of this. It doesn't matter if they go to church or not. It makes no difference if they have prayed a prayer to ask Jesus into their heart or have just developed a pattern of going through the liturgy set before them. They simply never get over being selfish. You can stand on the porches of most churches and see this behavior worked out in the flesh. You will observe men getting in their cars, and not one in ten will open the car door for their wives or children. They are hungry, the preacher talked too much, the ball game is about to start, and the Methodists have a head start on them at the cafeteria. People in the parking lot who get in their way are potential speed bumps, and anyone who slows them down from being conformed to the image of the couch is going to get an earful of honking horn and "Why I oughta!"
Dana and I were married on January 1, 1977. Before that time, I made an intensive personal study of what made up a Christian marriage. There were times that I was even called on to lead marriage enrichment retreats as a single guy. Now that I reflect on that part of my ministry, those poor people must have been in real trouble to come to one of those events. One of the things that I discovered was an observation made in one of the countless numbers of books I read on the subject was, "You will never know how selfish you really are until you get married." I don't know why that has stuck with such tenacity over the years, but God has never let me forget it. This short statement carries a huge lesson for me that I am still trying to learn.
Breast cancer is an invasion of privacy and personal space like no other. It attacks a lady at the very core of her femininity, and has the capacity to rob her of what makes her uniquely a woman. One of the things that I have admired most about Dana in her fight against breast cancer is her determination to maintain her sense of style and fashion. She was not going to let breast cancer stop her from being a girl. This may be why she would always refer to this journey as her "Great Adventure." As I watched her fight this battle, I was taken to a new level of appreciation for the woman I had married. I fell in love with someone that I thought I knew, but this level of conflict in our lives gave me a front row seat to a wrestling match between Dana and the enemy. I was limited in what I could do to help her. This was emasculating. Still, I was empowered by observing her capacity to pound on her chest and roar back at the enemy in the middle of the fight. When the enemy dished out its worst, she cinched up her breastplate another notch and stood firm in her resolve to see this through and trust God in the middle of it.
"Teaching Men How to Fight Like a Girl" involves learning that what God has in store for me is not about my comfort in life, but my contribution in life. Women seem to have an instinctive ability to care for others more than themselves. For most men this is a learning curve that will take a life time. I am not talking about morphing into an insipid metrosexual who denies his manhood and fops his way through life getting in touch with his femine side. I am referring to the courage to admit that you do not have the capacity to take on what scares you the most, and being willing to submit your will to God's plan for your life. This plan includes turning your eyes from your own navel, and focusing on a greater purpose in life than weaving your own lint. This starts with spending time with God in prayer and leads to investing your life in others. Wean yourself away from the mother's milk of self-gratification and follow a path of self-expenditure. Plan for the day. Get out of the cotton pickin' car and hold a door open for your wife. She will be shocked and you will have taken a mansized step to learning how to fight like a girl.