I see myself, standing in the middle of the battlefield. Dark forces coming in from all sides. Am I wearing my helmet of salvation? Do I have the belt of truth about my waist? Am I protected by the breastplate of righteousness? Are my feet fitted with the readiness of the gospel of peace? Is my shield of faith up in front of me, ready to extinguish all the fiery darts of the enemy? Is my hand gripping the sword of the Spirit? Am I ready for battle?
Then I see that I am not standing there alone. My brothers and sisters in Christ are in battle with me. We are standing in a line, poised for the fight. As an army, I hope we are all ready. I hope we can help each other up when we get knocked down. I hope those whose armor is weakened will be helped by the stronger.
I come to realize I can’t aid my fellow soldiers with most of these items – they can only protect me. But, with my sword, I can help those on my left and on my right, as the enemy tries to sneak up behind them. I can wield the sword and help protect, help them fight. I can stay alert. I can pray for them as we battle. And they can do the same for me.
I then see myself, standing in a canyon – dry, cracked dirt and jagged rocks all around, steep brown earthen walls on all sides. I am standing there, in full armor, with my shield up on front of me. It feels so small as I am desperately trying to keep behind it, arrows flying at me from above and around me.
I cry out to God that I need help in this battle. And it’s then that His enormous arm reaches in from behind me, gripping a massive shield, taller than the cliffs around me. He slams it down in front of me, the pointed bottom crushing into the ground, secure, and I am fully protected as I lean into it, resting there in the shadow of His shield.
It is with these images in mind that I grow grateful. Grateful for the armor God has provided. Grateful for the others in battle with me. Grateful that He sometimes steps in and wipes out the enemy. Grateful that at other times He doesn’t – that He sustains, shelters, even as we are still on the battlefield – that He uses the struggle to strengthen us, increase our faith, and teach us – as individuals – as an army. Grateful for the privilege of being one of His soldiers.
And so, with these images in mind, with grateful hearts, we battle on.