Teaching Men How to Fight Like a Girl
"Stand firm...having shod YOUR FEET WITH THE PREPARATION OF THE GOSPEL OF PEACE;" Ephesians 6:15
One of the ways Dana and I handled the trauma and drama of chemo was turning it into an excuse to go shopping to buy her a new pair of shoes. Chemo was never something she looked forward to having, but every step she took towards it meant that the finish line was a little bit closer. When I suggested we buy her a pair of shoes after every treatment, her eyes lit up like a little girl. Who knew that warfare had anything to do with footwear? God did, and Dana couldn't have agreed with Him more. We are still great friends with the ladies at Brighton in Southlake. This became our next stop after every chemo treatment. Men need to be reminded what women seem to know instinctively; shoes are extremely important in warfare.
Putting on armor and standing firm are two very different things indeed. It is not difficult to learn how to put on armor. It takes much training, testing, trial, terror, and tears to learn how to effectively use weapons for their proper use...warfare. They are not meant to be studied in the class room or put in museums as memorials to victories won long ago. These weapons are meant to be put on and put to use in the battle against evil that is raging today.
George Barna said, "Until the church utilizes prayer as the world class weapon in the battle against evil, there is not much hope of a turnaround." I couldn't agree more. For good or for ill, the church in America is a product of the prayers of God's people.
John Wooden, legendary basketball coach at UCLA, used to walk his players through a simple exercise before he let them touch a basketball. He had them sit barefoot on a court side bench and he taught them how to put on their socks. He had a regimen that he expected his players to follow so that they had all the wrinkles out of the sock, and the seams were straight. This process would assure that no blisters developed that would slow down the tempo of the game or take their mind off the real purpose of basketball...winning the game. He knew the greatest athlete in the world could be sidelined by the simplest and smallest thing. To this day Hall of Fame athletes who played for Coach Wooden can recite his lecture and instructions on how to put on a pair of socks. Putting on socks was not the goal of the game of basketball. They do not give trophies for excellence in putting on socks, but there would not be much winning if his players were whining about how much their feet hurt. This great coach knew that there was certain precise preparation that was necessary so that the real goal could be attained.
Ancient Roman soldiers were outfitted with shoes that could withstand what the enemy threw against them. They gave the feet support for long marches, and were equipped with studs on the soles to keep the feet of the soldiers firmly planted on the ground when being pushed by the enemy. Proper footwear was essential to standing firm on the ground that was being attacked by the enemy. It was also imperative to have protection when chasing the enemy from the battlefield. The flotsam and jetsam of war clutters a field with sharp objects that can injure the feet of those who are forced to march across fields of battle. In first century warfare, it was not unusual for a retreating army to litter their path of retreat with glass, nails, discarded armor, and any other debris to impede or injure the feet of those who were trying to finish them off. With proper footwear, the Roman soldiers could finish off the enemy because they not only could stand firm, but they could walk over the attempts of the enemy to delay their inevitable defeat.
The Gospel is good news. It is the greatest news that has ever been told. The news is PEACE.
God provided a way for the hostilities to end between Him and His rebellious children. He cannot make peace with people who remain in rebellion. His character will not allow Him to have a relationship or fellowship with those who have fallen short of what He requires of them. Sin separates, and it requires a solution. God sent His Son, Jesus, to be the bridge between the rebellion of man and His holiness. God provided a way for the war to end, and wrong to be made right. The death of Jesus on the cross paid the penalty of sin. He resurrection from the dead provides the power for new life.
My father often tells the story of when he was in California when he heard that Japan had surrendered, and World War II came to an end. He was still in the U.S. Army, and had been headed to become part of an invasion force that was being assembled to invade the Japanese home island when word came that Japan agreed to surrender unconditionally to the Allied forces. Eventually peace documents were signed on the U.S.S. Missouri that officially ended the war, and my father was discharged from the service. This was good news on so many levels. He was not on his way to invade Japan. He would not become a casualty on an enemy's beach. He was out of the army. He could return to his new wife. He could begin his college education. They could start a new life together. Peace meant so much more than the end of hostilities. It meant life.
When Dana and I heard the news that she had stage II breast cancer, there was a rush of fear and anxiety that flushed away any peace we had in our hearts. The Schemer began to flood our minds with questions about our right standing with God. He tried his best to get us to declare war on God, and develop a rebellious heart towards the only one who could bring us peace. We both heard a perverted voice raise the silent, but deadly doubts, "Was this punishment for something we had done?" "Was this punishment for something we didn't do?" "Is life over for us?" On and on the attacks came as the forces of evil used intimidating images of an angry God making cancer seem became bigger, and thereby robbing us of peace with God.
Peace with God, and peace of God are two sides to the same coin. Unfortunately we have done a better job of taking hold of peace with God than cashing in on the priceless value of the peace of God. Peace with God is based on the promises of God. "Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." (Romans 5:1) The peace of God comes when any accusation that comes from the enemy is taken to God in prayer. "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything in prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:6-7 )
Dana and I began to learn how to TALK LESS AND PRAY MORE! When we took our anxious doubts about God's love for us back to the One who purchased our salvation, we gained a new perspective on life. Talking about our crisis often led us to devalue what God has done for us. Praying helped us regain a true sense of our net worth. Peace comes from praying to a loving Father who has already provided us with what money can't buy and death can't take away.
Cancer can hit anyone, anytime, and anywhere. It is no respecter of persons. It is not a punishment from God, but it is often used by the enemy with an evil intent. The forces of evil that are arrayed against the child of God cannot steal away the eternal security of a true believer. God is love, and saving His children from the consequences of their sin was His idea. When we put our faith or trust in God's Son, we personally identify with the plan that and the Person who releases God to declare us right in His eyes. When we begin to doubt God's love for us, we fall prey to the schemes of the forces who cannot take away the gift of God's love that is secured by the blood of His Son. The danger comes when we begin devaluing that which is priceless...His love for us.
During your greatest moments of doubt, do not be ashamed to gain comfort from the song of your childhood. "Jesus loves me this I know. For the Bible tells me so."