Faithful Living

"All the components for a perfectly delightful 2 hours were present as I approached the Little League field. I could see two dozen uniformed youngsters warming up with enthusiasm and a faithful bunch of dads out among the kids in the field. There were the familiar spectators that always include those smartly dressed parents who come directly from the office and pre-school siblings, whose little faces streak with ball field dirt within minutes and beg their parents for a treat from the snack shack. I smiled at the site of such sweet familiarity.I quickly moved to find just the right spot where I could watch all the kids play with an unobstructed view and still feel the sun on my back. And as I began to pull my portable red chair out of its carrying case I searched the field for my 8-year-old son. Not a game had gone by that he did not search the crowd for my whereabouts and I wanted to make eye contact with him before the game began.Only this time he was nowhere in site, even though I knew he had arrived moments before. When I still did not see him after a careful second check I leaned over to a nearby mother to inquire if she knew what position Daniel had been assigned to play during this game. He's here alright! she explained. I just passed him a few minutes ago in the dugout putting on the catcher's equipment. I quickly swung around and faced home plate to see my little man, completely covered from head to toe as if he were preparing for battle. Head gear, chest plate, shin guards - why it hardly looked like Daniel at all except for the huge smile that appeared behind the metal grid as our eyes made contact. Hey you! I called out to Daniel, Looking good my boy! Thanks, Mom. Look what I've got on! he yelled in my direction.I have no idea which team won or who had the best statistics by game's end. It hardly matters when you are only 8 years old and just learning how to toss the ball to first base and not duck when a fly ball hurls your direction. What really matters is understanding, then applying, the life lessons one gleans from activities like Little League. And the lesson I could not help but apply that day is this: When you are close to the action, you'd better wear some protective gear.In the Bible's book of Ephesians its author, Christ's Apostle Paul, encourages us to wear the full armor of God because life can be a battle. It is a distinctive choice that can be made each and every day and it is God's way or preparing you for the realities of living. But you must begin by gathering the gear.The first component of armor is the belt of truth, which is always worn by the wisest among us because they know that sometimes things that sound like truth or that we want to be the truth are really lies, instead. We must know what is true and weigh all the information that comes our way with careful discernment. The second piece of armor is the breastplate of righteousness, which is a formal way of saying that you must prepare and protect your heart˜ - the very place where self-worth and emotions and trust tenderly rest. If you do not know that God truly loves you, it is quite likely that you will put these things at great risk. Claim God's love, then move accordingly.The third piece of armor is the footgear of readiness. Step out when you are needed. Be generous with your life and do not fear that the needs and possible criticisms are too great for you to manage. God is with you.Next, don your shield of faith. Regardless of the temptations, setbacks, and insults that may come your way, hold on to your faith. It is in risking that you will see God work.Do not forget your helmet of salvation! No matter what life has in store for you, your salvation gives you life eternal.Finally, pick up the sword of the spirit. It is your only offensive weapon but it is powerful. God works in surprising and inspiring ways through you to battle the mightiest of troubles. He gives you talents and the gift of His spirit to rise up above the fray.Joan Bay Klope is a freelance writer and former editor of Christian books published by Gospel Light Publications. She can be reached at"

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