This passage is long familiar to me, and probably to you as well, so today I'm going to view it through the lens of a hard lesson that I am living through this weekend.
For us, as with Paul and his audience, there may be a temptation from time to time to look about us and think, "Well, no enemies in sight, let's take a break and relax from battle dress." Paul had plenty of enemies; the early Church had plenty of enemies. Their earthly enemies came bearing swords and shooting arrows. But Paul knew, and we ought to know, that the most dangerous enemy is the one we cannot see. It is an enemy that is all too ready to penetrate our defenses when we let our guard drop. It can be an enemy within our minds.
Yesterday I did something unaccountably foolish. Alone in the house, I brought a stepladder up to the attic entrance and set up there for the purpose of stowing some items from the garage that I had been admonished simply to throw in the trash. as I stood on the next-to-highest step, the ladder fell over sideways, with my feet flying in its direction, and I fell six feet and landed flat on my back, hard. I have never been body-slammed before; I never want to feel that again. What ensued was an embarrassed call to my wife's workplace, a trip to urgent care for tests and x-rays (nothing obviously broken), then a regimen of pain killers and muscle relaxers.
I am laid up today, pretty useless to fill any household role for a few days, and why? I was so intent on doing in secret what I wanted to do that I was vulnerable to an accident that could have left me unconscious and crippled, and undiscovered for hours. I didn't put on the armor of God; I put on only my own selfishness and uncaring attitude. It will take a few days at least to work through the discomfort and uselessness. God willing, I may--no, I must--internalize this lesson and be ready for battle in the future. I urge you all, be mindful of what gear you don--is it God's, or your own? Are you ready for a sudden fall? Will you take steps to ensure you don't fall?