“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 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.” (Ephesians 6:10-12)

When emotions rage, anger consumes, and disappointment presses in, I begin to battle other people and my circumstances. The world tells me to focus on self-love. Do what’s right for me. “You do you,” they say. So, I aim my frustration with unsteady hands and fire.

I forgot to put on my armor today. Or maybe it was a week or a month ago since I wore that outfit. As I gaze at the dusty pile in the corner, I suddenly remember that I’m fighting the wrong battle altogether.

“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.” (Ephesians 6:13-17)

I pick up truth and put it around my waist and step back into reality. Then comes my righteousness, earned by Christ. God is continually drawing me to increasingly right living, I remember, by his Holy Spirit.

My shoes are next, and with them come readiness that allows me to stand firm no matter what happens around or to me. I am ready to face what God allows before me.

The shield is next. Not just any shield, though, but the faith that protects me. It is dipped again in God’s word and ready to extinguish Satan’s flaming darts. As long as I keep quenching my shield, faith protects me.

Next, on comes the helmet – my salvation. Christ earned this, and my eternal state is secure. My mind is protected from any evil that would try to unravel it.

Finally, I pick up the sword of the Spirit, both my offense and defense. It is God’ struth piercing the toughest armor and warding off anything coming to pierce mine.

“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.” (Ephesians 3:18-20)

Prayer must be a habit because I need to know how to best use my armor. Then I see two words that remind me of why I took my armor off in the first place. “Be alert.” I can’t just wear the armor, I realize, I must be aware of the battle – the real one – that I am to fight. It’s not against those who have hurt me or even against my own failures but against the one who would seek to destroy me. It’s against the spiritual powers of this world that are indifferent to me. Armored up, I now remember that no matter how I feel, he who is in me is greater than he who is in the world (1 John 4:4).