1980’s cartoon shows were a daily entertainment in my growing up years. After school, my sisters and I would come home, turn on the 13-channel television and make our snacks. We’d settle down on the couch for an afternoon of respite from the world and our studies before jumping into piano practice, homework, and midweek church activities.

One of the shows I loved the most was G.I. Joe. My heart was drawn to the idea of fighting for goodness and taking action to defeat evil. I grew up in a relatively peaceful part of the world near Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. There was no fear of war arriving on our shores in that era. The sight of military vehicles was so rare that whenever we spotted an army truck on the road, we stared. Although the conservative anabaptist denomination I grew up in upheld the virtue of pacifism, the focus in our family was more on intentionally promoting and working for peace, not merely just avoiding confrontation.

Why was I drawn so passionately to this tv show about soldiers and warfare? What was I fighting for? I didn’t know, but God was going to take me through boot camp.

Facing Fear in a Fallen World

Perhaps I first learned endurance as an infant, though I have no memory. My parents recall watching from behind a glass window, their baby daughter fight to breathe for days in an oxygen tent, as my little body battled to overcome the deadly Pertussis virus. Perhaps it was because I was a sensitive soul, timid, yet at times brave enough to stand up to a bully at school and tell him to back down from hurting a weaker student. Maybe it was because God gave me a very early awareness of the existence of evil. Perhaps also I was more affected than I knew by the secondary trauma I experienced during college from learning that a dear family friend was violently murdered. Whatever it was, this sensitive soul was learning endurance, perseverance, and how to stand firm in Christ. There was a battle to fight.

My mom was very formative in teaching me how to manage my fears and anxiety. She knew that the enemy was the source of that fear, that sin and brokenness in this world were a result of the fall, and she gave me my armor and dressed me for the fight:

“Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints…” (Ephesians 6:13-18)

My mother dressed me in royal armor with these swords and daggers from her own armory, the treasure trove of Scripture highlighted in her Bible, the sword of the Spirit that she wielded daily as a Christian woman and pastor’s wife. She read verses to me in my times of fear and doubt. I hid them in my heart as I learned my position in the battle. Spiritual warfare is a reality, and Paul makes it very clear that our struggle is not against flesh and blood.

Wearing the Armor of Christ

In my study of the armor of God in Ephesians 6, I learned that the armor is actually Christ and the gifts he bestows on us through the gospel. This was another mind-blowing truth that shifted the fight. It isn’t about how much I can pray, how long, which words, or how motivated I am. It isn’t about anything I can do. The how of spiritual warfare looks more like rest and submission to Christ when we realize that he is: the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shoes of the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit. Each piece of our armor is either Christ himself or what he so graciously supplies us through union with him. Once again, the gospel of grace is completely his work.

Because it is Christ’s work, we can rest in his authority as the enthroned King of kings. Because it is Christ’s work, we can submit to all his commands and ways, trusting that he works in and through us. Because it is Christ’s work, we know the outcome is also in his hands and will work for our good.

At the funeral service of our family friend, twenty-five years ago now, I was asked to help with music. The worship leader led a song based on Psalm 46. In our trauma-laced grief, we sang through our lamentation as we urged our voices and hearts to worship the Lord with his very words of hope and comfort. This, too, was spiritual warfare. This was the belt of truth and the sword of the Spirit in action.

Dear reader, perhaps the painful places in your heart feel beyond healing and hope. Perhaps you don’t see the purpose of your battles. Jesus will meet you there. Will you consider offering a sacrifice of praise to the Savior? I know… it sounds upside-down. But someone else suggested it first “…blessed be the name of the LORD” (Job 1:21). And if you can’t sing praises yet, weep while he holds you together. That’s the belt of truth too.

In all the struggles and trials of life, it took a few battle scars before I finally realized what I was fighting for and how to fight, but I’ve found my place in the battle. Each day, I wear this armor of God, purchased for me at the cross and bestowed upon me at salvation. Like the good news proclaims, we can rest in Christ’s finished work. It is his fight, after all. We fight by resting in what he has done for us, submitting to his ways, and worshipping him for who he is.

Do you know your place in the battle?

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

Jennifer Harris

Jennifer Harris lives in the beautiful Yakima Valley in Washington state with a view of orchards and vineyards from her kitchen window and of the Pine and Cowiche Mountains to the west. She works alongside her pastor-husband, Craig, in church planting ministry at Saint Andrew’s Presbyterian, and raising their four wonderful children, two dogs, two cats, and ten chickens. When Jen’s not busy at home with the kids, she’s busy out & about with the kids, going on adventures, making memories, and exploring the beauty of the Pacific Northwest. Jen has an undergraduate degree in Church Ministry and serves her church in coordinating the women’s ministry, helping with music, and preparing for a plethora of potlucks. Her greatest joy is knowing her Redeemer, Jesus Christ. Her greatest mission is to help others know Him too. Jen writes at