Cardboard Swords

By: Dennis Bates

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so 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 you 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 saints. 

“Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel for which I am an ambassador in chains.  Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.” EPHESIANS 6: 10-20

 How many sermons do you suppose an average pastor could preach on this passage? For that matter, how many can you remember hearing? It is literally packed with theological principles and great images. I remember when I was a kid that we made armor in Bible School and labeled it. Of course being 10-year-old boys we put on our helmets decorated with our own artwork and the word “Salvation”  and battered each other’s shields of faith with our swords that said Spirit. As I recall, very few of us had much of our armor left to take home at the end of the week, but we sure had fun, although our teachers were less than amused with our antics.

Amazingly, however, I remember that armor 50 years later, and I know the verses, so maybe letting us play around with  the construction paper armor and the cardboard swords wasn’t such a bad thing after all. 

Today, those are still some of my favorite verses. Maybe it’s because they remind me of my youth when I could jump up on a chair and down again without a step ladder…fall down and hop right back up again grinning and ready for more. I can still fall down; it’s the hopping back up part I can’t seem to handle anymore. Maybe I remember them because my dedicated teachers knew how to channel our wild enthusiasm and into something worthwhile.

 Or perhaps I’ve finally learned what Paul meant in that final paragraph when he talked about being an ambassador in chains. What a great image that is. Paul literally was in chains when he wrote it, but he was talking about more than iron chains when he asked for prayer so he could use his situation to declare the Gospel fearlessly. Instead of using his situation an excuse to do less, he used it as a reason to do more.

 As I get older and slower, I have to remember Paul’s words and use that to do more, not less. And all that from a cardboard sword.

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