Here is a thought conditioner that I like to reflect on when I think that things are not going well:
Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. —Ephesians 6:13
While I am not a huge fan of war imagery, I like the idea of being protected by God’s armor in the “evil day.” For me, the evil day would be a day when I am feeling down and discouraged. A day when I am filled with self-pity. A day when I refuse to look for God’s grace in the world. A day when my eyes and heart are blinded to beauty. This is the type of “evil day” when I really need some help to keep from falling into despair and losing faith that God will love me through every part of my journey into low vision. This is the type of day when I need this thought conditioner, so that I remember to rely on the “armor of God” to protect me from outside harm or self-destruction.
This thought conditioner is a short scripture passage, really just one sentence, but it contains so much that I thought I would look at one aspect at a time.
First, the scripture asks me to be active, to “take unto” myself the armor. It asks me to be a partner in the grace God is offering. Before I can take on the armor, I need to remind myself what it consists of. I found the armor described in Ephesians 6:14-17, the verses that immediately follow the thought conditioner. The armor of God is:
- Loins girded in truth – To me, this means that I need to be honest about the situation. If I am being melodramatic or self-pitying, I need to put this negativity aside and look at what is really happening. I need to be truthful about how my judgments and feelings are coloring my perception. I want to take an honest look at possibilities and opportunities present in the midst of the situation.
- Righteousness as a breastplate – Righteousness means being without guilt of sin. I think I need to make sure that I have a pure heart within the situation. Since my loins are girded in truth, I can be honest about how my own actions and attitudes are making the situation worse. I want to purify myself, so that I can work with God’s grace to improve the circumstances.
- Feet shod in readiness for the gospel of peace – This seems to be asking for more honesty from me. I must ask myself whether I am grounded in the gospel of peace, or if I am looking for conflict, self-satisfaction, or power. When I am in the middle of a bad situation, my heart needs to be ready for the gospel of peace. If I am filled with my own ego, I want to let that go and prepare for a peaceful resolution.
- Faith as a shield – I want to hold on to my faith at all times and in all situations. I need to remember that God loves me and can see a bigger picture than I can. I have to stand ready, holding my faith between myself and whatever is going on around me. If the turmoil is inside myself, I have to hold my “shield” of faith in such a way that negative thoughts lose their hold on me and are replaced by thoughts of love and peace.
- Helmet of salvation – This helmet of salvation means the hope, the certain expectation, of future blessing. I had a friend who used to say, “I’ve read the end of the book – Jesus rises.” That is the kind of certain hope that I need to have as I face difficulties.
- Sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God – I know that, when I have memorized certain scriptures (such as this thought conditioner), they pop into my head when I need them. They are like a surgeon’s knife that cuts away the cancer, leaving only healthy tissue in place. Knowing and remembering the word of God is a key piece of preparing for “evil” days when I may feel discouraged.
The next part of the thought conditioner is VERY important. When I have done all, when I have done my very best to put on the “armor,” I am to stand. Not worry, not try to fix anything, not panic. Just stand – relax, keep my spirit quiet, be calm. Just stand and wait to see the miracle that God has planned.