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. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. Ephesians 6: 13-15 (NIV)
Feet stained green by fresh cut grass came to a quick stop at the edge of the gravel driveway. Running across the cushion of lawn was painless, and as children we loved the freedom of feet without shoes. But in the heat of a chase or childhood ‘battle’, bare feet limited our options and left us easy to catch. Slowed by stones and sticks, our eyes became focused on the ground as we tried to pick out the path that would hurt the least. Even small pebbles could distract us from our game if we stepped on them the wrong way.
Simply wearing shoes changed the game completely.
Interesting isn’t it? How cladding our feet can instantly equip us to cover more territory and move faster. How shoes allow us to run more freely. They shield us from injury and give traction when the path is tricky. By insulating us from unexpected and momentary obstacles, they remove distractions and let us focus on taking action. They let us lift our gaze from the ground and see more of the world around us.
So what does all this talk about shoes have to do with God’s gospel of peace?
Ephesians 6 instructs us to put on the full armor of God, which includes fitting our feet with the ‘readiness that comes from the gospel of peace’. I have never really thought about peace as something that protects and equips us. I more often expect it as a by-product of a battle already won. Yet Paul clearly includes it as part of our preparation and defense against the enemy.
Have you ever considered how the gospel of peace is like a good pair of shoes, making us ready to stand firm in our faith no matter where our path may take us? What is it about peace that makes us battle-ready?
A person at peace is not easily distracted. One definition of peace includes ‘freedom of the mind from annoyance, distraction, anxiety…’ When we clothe ourselves in peace, we may feel the bumps and pebbles of anxiety, fear and doubt, but they do not have the same ability to distract us and slow us down. Instead of giving our attention to ‘what-if’s’ and ‘if only’s’, we are able to remain focused on where we are going and what is truly important. We can think and see clearly. We are able to make intentional, wise decisions instead of reacting to momentary circumstances with short term fixes.
A person at peace does not avoid the hard parts of the narrow road. Living in peace involves resolving conflicts and hostilities in our relationships. When we proactively address hard situations, the sharp edges of anger and bitterness don’t slice at our heels and tempt us to leave the path we are intended to travel. We are able to stay the course, even when the way gets rocky if we enter those hard times blanketed with peace.
A foundation of peace gives us confidence when the path seems unclear. Being at peace with God reminds us that we are safe and secure; that He is in control. When we live in harmony with Him and His plans, there is nothing that can ultimately defeat us. We can stand in confidence that His purposes will prevail. This confidence gives us sure footing and good traction to make it through the slippery mud of the devil’s lies and temptations.
When we think about peace from a battle-readiness perspective, we can see that it brings focus, tenacity and confidence – all characteristics that prepare us to stand our ground in the face of evil. And we can begin to understand why it is included as part of the armor that God provides for us.
Let me encourage you today to get fully dressed before you step out of your yard and into the sometimes rocky places that God is calling you. Remember that ‘The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with peace.’(Psalm 29:11) and that His peace will protect and equip you for whatever you may encounter.