One day a young man decided that the most important thing he could do with his life was serve his country. He signed up at the recruiting office and was shipped off to the Army where he was given a haircut, a uniform and a weapon. His Sergeant then told him, “Son, we are at war with the most dangerous and powerful enemy our country has ever seen. But, the good news is, I have just handed you a weapon more powerful than anything they have at their disposal. We have training available for you at every possible level, but since this is a volunteer army, you choose what training you take. You get to know your weapon and how to use it at whatever level you choose. I can’t urge you strongly enough to learn it intimately, go to as much training as you can, and spend time on your own every day with it.”
The soldier took his weapon back to the barracks with him, excited about his new commitment. He went into the barracks and started talking with some of the older soldiers about their weapons training.
“Well, we all go to the weekly training. That’s the one where the sarge gets up and tells us about the weapon and what it does. We like getting together and hearing about it. Most of us go to that every time.”
“Some of us have a small group where we study the weapon and work at figuring out how it works and what to do with it. Not as many show up for that because it takes some more time and effort, but it really is helping us be more effective.”
“The Sarge really encourages everybody to spend some time alone working with their weapon every day. Some people call it their one-on-one weapon time, or their quiet weapon time. We try to do it but it’s hard sometimes to find the time. You should try to get at least five minutes, though, every day if you can. It’s a good thing. Some people, if they can’t get into the time with just the weapon, read pamphlets or daily information about the weapon. ”
The soldier was confused. “Don’t we need to spend serious time with this weapon, really learning it and getting expert at it? We are up against a serious enemy!”
Everyone agreed. “Absolutely. It’s the most important thing. And I really try to…”
This, obviously, was another attempt at a parable, and it was about as subtle as Donald Trump firing someone. It was also directed right straight at me. It was something that I felt that God put on my heart today, almost exactly as I wrote it. He started speaking to me about the irony of believing we are in an battle of eternal significance for human souls, against an enemy who has no other interests, no distractions… and we have been given all the weapons, armor, and supernatural power needed. Yet so often my attitude is “well, need to get in my quiet time”, so I can check it off, like whether or not I get it done is what counts. We have been given access to the mysteries of God, and yet how easy is it to treat that access like a chore rather than an amazing privilege and source of strength.
It is a wonderful thing to have a relationship with God that is a friendship, where he is my Abba “daddy” father, where I feel that I can just converse and talk with him all day long. But it is wrong to let that become a sense of taking God for granted, of letting him become just background in my life. Every so often it is important to step back and get a sense of perspective. The creator of the universe, the one who spoke a word and made the cosmos, painted the monarch butterfly and carved the Grand Canyon, made the ocean so blue and came up with all those different colors of flowers … that God loves me and wants a relationship with me. And he wants me to know him through his Word. He gave it to me, he made it amazingly easy. I can look online, I can walk into a bookstore and buy any number of translations, with commentaries, in cute girly covers, whatever I like. I’m so blessed to live where I don’t have to worry about going to prison for owning a Bible. I probably have half a dozen or more now, that I hardly appreciate.
I’m going to work on spending more time with the Word. It’s renewing my mind with God’s thinking that will make me who he wants me to be.
Although we live in the world, we don’t fight our battles with human methods. Our weapons that we fight with aren’t human, but instead they are powered by God for the destruction of fortresses. They destroy arguments, and every defense that is raised up to oppose the knowledge of God. They capture every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:3-5
Finally, be strengthened by the Lord and his powerful strength. Put on God’s armor so that you can make a stand against the tricks of the devil. We aren’t fighting against human enemies but against rulers, authorities, forces of cosmic darkness, and spiritual powers of evil in the heavens. Therefore pick up the full armor of God so that you can stand your ground on the evil day and after you have done everything possible to still stand. So stand with the belt of truth around your waist, justice as your breastplate, and put shoes on your feet so that you are ready to spread the good news of peace. Above all, carry the shield of faith so that you can extinguish the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is God’s word. Offer prayers and petitions in the Spirit all the time. Ephesians 6: 10-18a