The trunk of my car has become a dusty den for baseball equipment. Every now and again I get adventurous and dive into it to try to secure some long cast-off relic of diamond lore, only to get distracted by the tokens of my past that lead me down memory lane like bread crumbs. If I ever have a flat tire, my plan is to simply abandon the car rather than try to sort out all of my trunk treasures to get to the spare tire.
Amidst the gathering of gear sits no fewer than three sets of catcher's equipment. Complete with mask, chest protector and shin guards they remain at the ready to enter the fray at any moment. But they don't. They remain in the trunk. A hidden away gem of potential protection. They are designed to transform the pint-sized catcher into a fearless gladiator clad with armor of plastic and metal. As they collect dust in the back of my car, they remain plastic and metal but they are far from providing defense. The bits of athletic armor offer the promise of deflecting fastballs and foul tips but remain little more than a theory. They are a likely source of usefulness on the baseball field that are yet unrealized. They could as easily be on the shelf of the used equipment store as in my possession – their impact is the same.
What I see often in my own life and in the life of others is that there is a correlation between the tangible yet ineffective catcher's gear in my car and the true yet unused presence of our spiritual protection. You see, when I trot a kiddie catcher out on the field, I don't send him out there with a, “Go get 'em! Don't be afraid of the ball! I have equipment in my car that is designed to protect you!” I put the equipment on him! I make sure he knows how it fits. I make sure it's snug. I make sure he knows how to use it – when to take off his mask, how to properly use the chest protector to block a bad pitch. Simply, the presence of protective gear is pointless unless the little guy uses it.
In Ephesians 6:10-20 Paul takes on the stance of a coach or manager, as it were, to explain to his beloved Ephesian friends that they are in the game! (That may be the first step. We're not all spiritual Little League right-fielders that should have to be reminded that there is a game happening.) And not only are they in the game, there is an opponent! And that opponent will stop at nothing to win. There is no sportsmanship in him. BUT, they have at their disposal protection against every kind of offense the opponent may try to use against them. Not only that, but they have an OFFENSIVE weapon to use against him so that, at the end of the game there will be one combatant standing and one defeated. If they use the protection given to them, they will “be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.”
The analogy of a baseball game to the spiritual battle is a pretty weak one. We don't shake hands after our spiritual battle in a show of sportsmanship. The victor of the spiritual battle doesn't get a trophy, they get life. The loser is destroyed. But that makes it all the more important that we understand the importance of having not just knowledge of our spiritual armor, but that we USE it. The fact that there is protection against all of the adversary's tactics is of no benefit if it is merely a theory. If I send my big boy backstop out to play and he squats behind the plate without his equipment – he's going to get ABUSED! He will take so many shots off of his chest, arms and face that he will come back to the dugout, shoot me a nasty glare through partially swollen eyes and leave the field thinking that is what baseball is like. In the spiritual battle, we may have a similar experience if we take to the field unprotected and unaware while dusty armor rests in the trunk of our memory.
Let us be aware of the battle and stand in the protection of the “strength of his might.”