Years ago as a newlywed couple, we lived in a large apartment complex in San Antonio, Texas.
One night, in the early morning hours, we were awakened by a loud banging on our door. The repeated thuds reverberated through our small apartment, jolting us awake. It sounded as if someone was trying to break the door down.
I grabbed the phone and dialed 911. The voice on the other end of the line calmly asked what kind of emergency we were experiencing.
“There’s someone beating on our door!” I exclaimed.
My heart was pounding, and fear was oozing from every inch of my body.
“Ma’am,” the voice calmly replied, “please go answer the door. It’s the police. Your truck has been stolen.”
As we stumbled out of bed and into the other room, a San Antonio police officer greeted us at the door. He explained that a lady in another apartment heard a commotion outside her window. She looked out to see a man breaking into our Chevrolet S-10. She called the police, and watched for thirty minutes as the man cut through the anti-theft device we had on our steering wheel and hot-wired our truck. She even took pictures of the suspect!
But the police arrived at the scene too late. The truck was gone.
It was such a strange feeling to know someone had violated us. Our sense of security was gone, and we wondered how to move forward. It was the only time I have ever had anything stolen.
But as I look at my life now, I realize I am robbed regularly.
My joy is stolen. My peace ripped away. My sense of security shattered.
You see, I find myself allowing others to step in and steal from me. I allow their words, their actions, to destroy my attitude. I spiral into depression, bitterness, anger at the mere mention of certain names or situations.
And I am robbed of the abundant life Christ promised me.
The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life. John 10:10
I don’t know what is stealing your joy and peace, but I know what it is for me. For years, I battled my ex-husband. Every negative, critical email ripped at my soul and sent me spiraling downward for days. It wasn’t until I consciously and consistently prayed for forgiveness, prayed for freedom, that I was able to overcome the attacks without being dragged down. It was truly God who set me free, restored His perfect peace and joy.
But today, I battle a new enemy. New people coming against me, spreading lies. I beg God night and day to be my defender, to bring truth to light. I cry out for my righteousness to shine like the dawn and the justice of my cause like the noonday sun (Psalm 37:6).
I slip into a downward spiral, only to catch myself and begin to claw my way back up. Some days I am able to regain what the enemy steals; other days, I’m not as successful, allowing myself to be violated over and over.
God is faithful. I know as long as He is the anchor of my soul, I will return to the abundant life, the place I want to camp and live. I don’t want anyone, any circumstance, to rob me of the gifts God has planned for me in this life. I want to fight for the abundant life!
But how do we fight the enemy who comes to steal, kill, and destroy?
Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Ephesians 6:13
We must be prepared for the battle. We must determine in our hearts to stand firm, to never be shaken. We must be ready and willing to resist the enemy at all costs.
Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. Ephesians 6:14
The belt of truth is essential. John 8:31-32 reminds us that true disciples cling to Christ’s teachings and walk in complete obedience. These disciples will know the truth and live in complete freedom.
But what is truth? Jesus said He is the way, the Truth, and the life. Truth is knowing our Savior, personally and intimately. It’s watching to see where He is working and joining Him in His work. It’s learning to walk with Him, every moment of every day. And then, we know Truth and we walk in freedom.
For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. Ephesians 6:15
Peace. We all seek it. We know it when we experience it. But how do we live in it? Isaiah 26:3 reassures us of His perfect peace when our minds are steadfast and focused on Him and His word. And Philippians 4 reminds us that His peace which surpasses all understanding will guard our hearts and minds when we stop worrying and instead pray, when we think on the good things of Christ.
Putting it all together, we find peace when our minds are focused on the things of God, when we have a constant diet of God’s word, when we stop worrying and start praying. And this is the good news!
In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Ephesians 6:16
Faith grows when it is put through the fiery test of trials and tribulations. As we walk through the troubles of this life, we see God’s faithfulness, we see Him carry us through. Our faith grows as we experience His tender loving care in the difficult times of our lives.
And then. When the enemy throws the fiery darts of doubt and fear, we are able to reflect on the many ways God has been faithful in the past. We see His goodness and His grace, the ways He turns our brokenness into beauty. And it gives us confidence to know He has fought these battles for us in the past, and He won’t fail us now.
Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
The helmet of salvation is essential to protecting our mind. Scripture speaks repeatedly about being transformed by renewing our minds (Romans 12:2), about focusing our thoughts on things that bring glory to God (Philippians 4:8). We are told to forget those things that are behind and focus on the prize for which Christ called us (Philippians 3:13-14).
We protect our minds by taking up the sword of the Spirit, by constantly bathing our minds with the Word of God. We read it. We think about it. We memorize it. We meditate on it. Our minds must be saturated with the word to adequately protect it.
Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere. Ephesians 6:18
There is no substitute for prayer. Our minds cannot conceive what God brings about in response to the prayers of His people. When you find yourself worrying, turn it into a prayer. Pray for God’s peace. Pray His word. Pray for our enemies. Pray for those who persecute us. Pray for those we love. Pray for God to do an amazing work in us so He can do an amazing work through us.
Lord Jesus, I don’t want to let the enemy steal the abundance you have promised me. Help me use the tools you have given me to fight off the attacks. Build my faith so I might be able to trust and believe that you are in control, that you will fight this battle for me. Help me to walk so closely with you that I know you, the Truth, and you set me free from the battles this life throws at me. Teach me to walk your way, knowing your way protects me from the enemy.