“Have fun kicking boxes!” That is the usual dismissal I hear as I leave my apartment dressed to sweat. My wraps and gloves bounce gently in the bag on my back as I hurry down the steps. I hop into my jeep and crank some adrenaline pumping music as I head down to the Fargo Brazilian Jiu Jitsu & MMA Academy.
As I step inside a quick memory of ball pits and plastic slides with the slight smell of shoe-less adolescents meets me at the doorway. I slip off my flip-flops and add them to the pile, grabbing my membership card. As I wait off to the side for the kids bully-proof jiu jitsu class to end I start wrapping up my wrists. Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday you will find me here, practicing kickboxing.
And I think as I warm up with a jump rope, have I been working out my soul and preparing it to fight as much as I am working out my body?
Ephesians 6:10 – 18. (NIV)
The Armor of God.
“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. 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.
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.”
Hmm. Now how to make this idea a bit more palpable, a little bit more relevant. We obviously do not don the type of armor or weapons described above to do battle anymore. Let us see what some paraphrasing will clear up for us.
Ephesians 6:10 -18 (The Message)
A Fight To The Finish
“And that about wraps it up. God is strong, and he wants you strong. So take everything the Master has set out for you, well-made weapons of the best materials. And put them to use so you will be able to stand up to everything the Devil throws your way. This is no afternoon athletic contest that we’ll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels.
Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You’ll need them throughout your life. God’s Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out.”
The old school in me still loves the NIV version, the imagery of putting on the battle gear is awesome, but even though I am not the biggest fan of The Message the images it stirs up are ones I can relate too.
Last month I ran a 4.something mile muddy obstacle course. It was called the Hard Charge and it was hard, and awesome! Out of the three of us girls I had done the most running, Ann was probably the most athletic, and Monica had the most drive. We waded through thigh high muddy ditches, army crawled through mud on multiple occasions, dunked ourselves in icy water, climbed a cargo net, belly crawled through sand, carried a tire, climbed over many, many walls, and slide down a fireman pole to finish, well not to finish, to earn. Our shirts and the banner across that finish line held the one word motto of the Hard Charged, Earned.
Now to earn this we ate mud, we felt like our legs were going to fall off, I tried to cross the monkey bars only to drop 20 feet into muddy water. I boosted Ann and Monica over walls and got over one big one by myself. On the second big one Monica came back around and helped boost me over. It was the best team building thing I had ever done.
It took determination, strength, and drive. Our spiritual warfare takes the same. We have a race to run, and I hate to break it to you, it will not be one of those fun colorful ones. We will have walls that we will have to help others over. There are some we can tackle ourselves and there are some were we will have to admit we need help. We will face some fears and we will want to quit, but there is no turning back.
Now before some obstacles we had some time to wait, things would get a little backed up and we could rest a little. There are times between our spiritual obstacles as well, and this should give us time to pray and rejuvenate, because it probably means a big one is coming up.
In the end when we cross the line we can look at God and know that we have earned this, only not by our own strength but by his grace. He has to help us over that big wall, we cannot do it on our own.
So, the term may be spiritual warfare, but I like to think of it as spiritual kickboxing. It is said that we are running a race, but I know this race is in the form of a muddy, obstacle course.
Time to prepare to kick some spiritual butt and fight to the finish.