I bundle myself up the way I once bundled up our children in their winter snowsuits, and go out into the cold, dark night. It is 3 degrees Celcius but it feels like -2 because of the gusty wind. I am determined to face this Canadian winter that has barely started. So far, so good.
The wind roars around the treetops like a fierce army running at a foe, but all that flee before it are dry leaves making weak tinny sounds as they scuttle and scamper across the dark village streets.
Molson trots along obediently by my side, but tonight we meet not one other soul, human or dog. We pass Molson's friend Sidney's house, but even he's not there on his lawn where he usually sits. I'm glad that he's warm inside tonight.
I'm thinking of this morning when Paul and I sat in our warm kitchen and read from Ephesians 6.
Ephesians 6:10-17 (New International Version, ©2010)
The Armor of God
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 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. 13 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. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
I've always read the beginning of verse 12, "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood," the way many versions of the Bible state it; as, "our struggle is not against a human foe." But this morning I thought, "What if that's not what it means? What if it means that we're prone to fight the wrong battle--a battle that was won the day Jesus died--the battle against the flesh?
"Our battle is not against flesh and blood." Well, I know that's the battle I've spent long years fighting and losing--until I realized that when Jesus cried out, "It is finished," he meant it; that he came to overthrow human effort which can only end in failure or pride anyway.
Instead, the verse goes on to say that our foe is spiritual. Since one of his names is "Father of Lies," how fitting if his cunning strategy was and is, to distract us with the wrong battle.
Read the remaining verses through that lens and they ring true.
This week we also read this verse:
Matthew 11:29 (New International Version, ©2010)
29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
His yoke, I see, is easy because there is no work for me to do. He is a good yokefellow, who has done it all.
5:1 (New International Version, ©2010)
Freedom in Christ
1 It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.
We have a gravitational pull towards self effort--the "yoke of slavery" spoken of in Galatians. Is it coincidence that both Ephesians 6:14 and Galatians 5:1 tell the reader to "stand.firm?"
Although the sky is obscured by scudding clouds, I am thinking of the North Star tonight. If you find the North Star, you can plot an accurate course.
(I hope this isn't too much of a diversion from my usual lighthearted chatter of which I still have plenty! It's what I've been thinking of a lot lately.)