But when losses come, it’s good to take time to look back over the battlefield and survey the landscape for lessons learned.
When I do this after a stumble or a fall, what I find is a battlefield littered with the armor that I should have been wearing.
The Shield of Faith was sufficient to stop any fiery darts of lust or self-doubt or anger or whatever the Enemy launched at me. But it is lying on the ground. Cast aside in a moment of fear or frustration. Or out of sheer exhaustion from the overwhelming onslaught.
The Sword of the Spirit (scripture) could have given me the ability to deliver an effective counter-punch. After all, that is what Jesus used when confronted by Satan in Matthew 4 and Luke 4. But I didn’t reach for my Bible when temptation came, or recall scripture passages. Instead, I loosed my grip on that sword and allowed it to clang to the ground alongside the shield.
The Belt of Truth should remind me of who I am based on God’s promises. Instead, it’s slack and falling down, allowing lies and labels to form my core in the moments when I most need to be girded by the truth. When that belt is firmly in place, I see myself as redeemed, forgiven, called, favored, blessed. When it slips, I see myself as worthless, incapable, emotionally out of control, lustful, addicted, helpless.
Because the belt has fallen away, the Breastplate of Righteousness is askew. It no longer guards my heart properly against insecurity and frailty. A loose breastplate means I am now drawing from my limited humanity which is incapable of attaining righteousness. Had the breastplate stayed straight I’d have rested in my Spirit-filled self, which finds value and worth in what He has done rather than what I can do.
If I’d cinched fast the chinstrap on that Helmet of Salvation, I would have been protected against the ungodly thoughts and carnal imaginings that invade a mind focused on this world. The knowledge of a secure salvation would keep me honed in on an eternal perspective. Instead, the helmet toppled off into the dirt and I became overtaken by temporal concerns, emotions, and pleasures.
Shoes of the Gospel are there to remind me of the “death, burial, and resurrection” (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) that completes me. But when they are not laced up securely they fall away and I am easily overtaken by a message of false fulfillment.
That’s the whole armor in Ephesians 6:13-17, strewn on the ground at the site of the defeat.
The losses look different. The circumstances change. The opponent varies in appearance and tactic. But ultimately, it all comes back to the armor.
It comes back to too much focus on the enemy and not enough focus on the armor that protects me from him.
Let’s make a conscious effort to change that focus. The battle is ours.