Ever felt like you are doing everything you can and things simply aren’t getting better? In conversation with someone recently about a challenging dynamic they were facing they shared all the tactics, both spiritual and logistical, that they were using to reach a victory in this particular dynamic. They were exhausted. Their list of maneuvers was exhaustive.
I couldn’t help but hear each of their strategies as a piece by piece suit of armor. They were, and are, daily waking up and getting dressed for battle and piece by piece they add an element of protection, or take up a weapon.
In a letter written to the church of Ephesus we read:
“Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”
These six featured pieces reminded me of the different ways she was faithfully working to remedy the situation or at least weather the season she found herself in. I asked her, “Did you ever notice what happens after we are guided to ‘put on the full armor of God?’”
Four times we read the word “stand.”
- Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand.
- so that…you may be able to stand your ground
- and after you have done everything, to stand
- Stand firm then
I especially love, “and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm…”
And get this…my favorite part in this chunk of scripture, the Greek form of the word “stand” is not just a typical “stand here for a moment” but a “prolonged standing.” We don’t just get to suit up, but we get to suit up and stand and we don’t just get to stand, we may get to stand for a while. How great! And how difficult, sometimes?
We tend to envision preparing for battle for the purpose of going into battle, which generally make me picture a suited knight preparing to leave his castle to engage in a war of some type. It’s much more of an offense in my mind. As if suiting up should lead to some type of action that will then lead to some type of victory or defeat.
Think back on a previous situation when things were totally out of your control. When you had done all you can. When literally the only option left was to simply stand. For me, most of those things matured me, and if I had been swept up in a quick victory that left all things sunshine and rainbows I would have missed something else entirely.
Don’t get me wrong. We still have volition. We have a part to play. There are things we can do, healthy things and unhealthy things. We can defend ourselves as outlined above or we can choose to enter battle in our own gear, either way we aren’t absolved from action. But when we have done all we can, and we have submitted an honest evaluation of the scene; we may have reached a point where we just need to stand. Just stand.