Friday, April 29, 2022
When I was a junior in high school, well before computers, I had to write a 15-page research paper for an American History class. Of course, it had to be typed. I didn’t know the first thing about typing, so I asked my dad to type it for me. I can still remember the old black Regal typewriter he used. I did all of my research at the public library and made all my notes on 3” x 5” index cards and catalogued them by topic in a recipe box. We were required to use a minimum of twelve sources, all referenced and properly footnoted in the paper. It was a huge project, but I am so thankful for the training it gave me. It’s so much easier today with the Internet and the cut and paste features of computers.
My topic for the paper was the Pony Express. The year was 1860. Three men had a vision for starting a fast mail delivery system across the United States. They bought 400 horses and hired a bunch of men to ride them. This hearty, hard-nosed group of riders fascinated me. These guys, in relay fashion, rode on horseback from St. Joseph, Missouri to the west coast, and reduced the delivery time for mail from twenty-five days to ten days. When considering being on the alert and ready at any moment to do the job, it’s hard to beat the Pony Express. These guys knew what preparation and readiness were all about. I admire these riders. They were committed to their task. They did whatever it took to be prepared.
That’s what Paul reminds us to do in our lives in today’s Scripture passage.
Ephesians 6:13 “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.”
My friends, the days are evil. We are to be prepared every day for the evil that surrounds us and affects us. Our preparation is vital to our endurance. The only way we will be able to stand for Jesus in the midst of a world that doesn’t is if we are fully equipped and prepared. It’s time for us as Christians to realize that there’s a weight limit that we can effectively and efficiently carry through this life if we are going to stand. Just as the Pony Express rider had to strip down to the bare essentials so he could maximize effectiveness, so must we. Our mission for Christ demands the proper equipment without any of the extras we think we need. Everything we add to our lives in the forms of priorities, possessions, and pleasure hinder us from accomplishing the purpose of God. How many of us find that we are so busy with our jobs, our families, our friends, our recreation, and our relaxation, that we put the mission of Jesus Christ on the bottom of the “to do” list? How many of our resources are prioritized based on personal goals rather than spiritual ones? How much of our day is lived for self rather than for our Savior?
I think we have fallen prey to the deception of the devil who wants us to believe that our security and hope is found in what the world has to offer us. We want a bigger house for a smaller mortgage and the elimination of all other debt so we can have financial peace. We want to perform with excellence in our career so we have job security. We want all the latest toys, from bikes to boats, from campers to cruises, and from Play Stations to Park Avenues, so we can enjoy the finer things in life. After all, if it’s available, aren’t we entitled to it? Then, once we have it, we must use it and take care of it, which demands more and more of our time, leaving less and less time for serving Jesus. Then, when the day of evil arrives, and our career plans are shattered by a corporate meltdown, or our financial goals are crushed by a falling stock market, or our toys get old and break down, or our health is taken from us, we wonder why we fall flat on our faces in despair. I know why. We weren’t really prepared. We had wrongly prioritized our lives. We were carrying more weight than God intended.
My friends, it’s time to re-evaluate our priorities. It’s time to put on the full armor of God, specifically designed by Him to be exactly the right weight for His mission. We are allowed some personal items, but my advice is that we take along only those things that enhance our ability to accomplish our mission. Everything else is baggage that weighs us down and hinders us. Let us lay aside all such weights, and run the race God has laid out for us. (Heb. 12:1) Let us fix our eyes on Jesus alone, and with dogged determination to persevere at all cost, let us stand for Jesus Christ! Let’s get prepared!
Thanks John for this ministry of words and spiritual thoughts – it was a joy to meet you this week and join you in some great teaching, worship and prayer!