Not too long ago you were introduced to Jami Nato, who is now one of our contributing bloggers. Through Jami’s blog I met another lovely woman named Jocelyn. Although Jocelyn is relatively new to our blog, her heart sings the same song as mine in many ways including her love of Jesus. I had the privilege of reading the words that Jocelyn has written below last week and since that time they have etched themselves on my heart continually reminding me of the gift that awaits us, should we be wise enough to clothe ourselves properly. I pray they will encourage you as well.
Hi! My name is Jocelyn Compton. I’m a lawyer-turned-homemaker (the best kind of lawyer, uhthankyou). I love Jesus, my family, reading, running, baking, coffee with friends, writing and the Oregon Ducks. Phew. I’m figuring out how to cook, garden, love my husband, parent and homeschool. And, this is my fam.
My daughter, Eliza Grace, is four (and a half, she’ll tell you) years old. Sandwiched between two brothers. She loves all things pink, sparkly, glittery, and sequined. Preferably all of that on the same article of clothing. Or at least the same outfit. Her daily “quiet time” is usually filled with a plethora of outfit changes. It’s kind of how I imagine backstage at a runway show during Fashion Week in New York City. Clothes flying out of drawers and off of hangers. Lightning fast wardrobe changes. Massive amounts of make-up (okay, in her case, Lip Smackers) being applied.
But the Lord calls me, as a believer, to put on just one outfit. “Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes you may be able to stand your ground . . . Stand firm then with the belt of truth . . . the breastplate of righteousness . . . your feet fitted . . . take up the shield of faith . . . [T]ake the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” (Eph. 6:13-17). He gives me one thing to wear. It is actually God’s own personal armor. An amazing gift from an amazing God.
The only catch is that I have to put the armor on. I love Paul’s imagery of changing our clothes to illustrate the process of change in our lives. It’s like any type of clothing. Clothes are not going to do me much good sitting on my closet floor, or strewn across the chair in my bedroom, or rumpled in a laundry basket (not that my clothes are ever in those places – ummm). In just that way, God’s armor won’t do me any good if I don’t purposefully put it on.
In those moments when I am about ready to snap at my kiddos in impatience . . . again. When I can feel the anger rising up . . . again. When I’m tempted to obsess over an offense committed against me, trying to look at it from every angle. When I feel like I just can’t make it to naptime or to the hubs’s arrival home from work. Those are the moments when I need to put on the full armor of God. The Word of God, the Truth stored up in my heart, and prayer are my armor and my weapons for womanhood, motherhood, wifehood, relationships, crises, and plain old daily life.
Part of the armor-ing up process is putting off the old self first. Paul calls the Ephesian believers “to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires.” (Eph. 4:22). Often when Eliza is in her outfit-changing frenzy, she forgets to take off pieces of one outfit before putting on the next. And sometimes she just can’t figure out how to get off some piece of clothing. It has led to some pretty amazing combinations of clothing. Amazingly adorable on a four-year-old munchkin.
But, when I neglect to take off my “old clothes” before putting on the armor of God, it’s not adorable at all. It’s a terrible ugly mess. Lately I’ve realized that when I struggle, it’s often because I’m trying to pile on the Truth without taking off my old self first. Just add a little bit of this Truth here, a little of that Truth there. Be kind with my words, but harbor bitterness in my heart. Speak the words “thank you” but grumble and complain in my thought life over what I didn’t get. Add a few encouraging words here, but continue allowing unwholesome talk to come out of my mouth there. Give generously with my time, but not with my money.
More often than I’d like to admit to you, I don’t take the time to stop. To spend time with Jesus. I mean really spend time with Him. Looking at my heart with Him. Thoroughly examining where my sinful nature is rearing its ugly head. To purposefully reject the world and its way of doing things. Ephesians 4:17 says that we “must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking.” The amazing thing about God is that He wants to help me with this process. Miss Eliza gets stuck in a shirt. I get stuck in my sin. Eliza needs my help to get that shirt off. I need God’s help to conquer my sin. And, He gives it to me. He doesn’t leave me to struggle and figure it out all by myself. In Ephesians 6:10 He says “be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.” Our good and gracious God gives us His power for all things. Including the power to put off the world and to put on His own armor.
So, I’m asking Him to help me remember that the armor is there, available to me at all times. My ideal is to be up before my children to study God’s Word and to have uninterrupted prayer before everyone is awake. Sometimes (okay, a lot of times, I’ll admit it) my ideal just doesn’t happen. But, I can still put off my old self and put on the armor of God.
I’m asking Jesus to stop me dead in my tracks throughout the day when my thinking goes haywire. Asking Him to cause me to cooperate with the Holy Spirit and stop before I take that first step down the path of sin. Or, to stop even if I’ve already headed down that path . . . when that first unkind or gossipy word has already rolled off of my tongue, when I’ve already snapped once at a kiddo, when I have that first unforgiving thought about an offense committed against me. To stop, turn from my sin, and turn my focus to Jesus.
When we turn our focus to Jesus, He protects our minds with peace. We are protected with God’s armor. “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you . . . ” (Isaiah 26:3). I can post the Word on my walls where I can see it, I can carry it on index cards to the grocery store, I can sing it with my kiddos. Paul tells the Christians at Ephesus to pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.
It is such an amazing gift to have access to God, His armor, protection and weapons for everything I face.
I don’t want to leave it sitting on my closet floor.
P.S. If you enjoyed Jocelyn’s post, please let her know and if you would enjoy writing on this blog, the offer still stands!