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

Courage is contagious. When a brave man takes a stand, the spines of others are often stiffened.

Billy Graham

I have played a lot of games in my life. Literally a lot of games: basketball, baseball, football, and more ... mostly when I was young and dads were the coaches. The older I got, the stakes got higher and so did the intensity of practice and the games.  Dads were replaced with “Coaches”, scores mattered, and fewer and fewer boys advanced to play on the teams.  The games were more serious and weighty.  The higher the stakes, the more fierce the battles of competition.

The same thing happened in the arena of relationships.  In grade school, everyone was your friend, everyone played together.   The older we got, the more selective relationships became.  “Teams” were unofficially tried out for, and everyone was trying to find where they fit in … where they belonged.  Adolescence is a fierce battle ground. The "games" aren’t scheduled, but there are a lot of them. Fighting to win the games of Acceptance and Inclusion, or not lose to Rejection and Isolation were fierce and challenging battles.  No wonder so many of us have lost heart on the journey. 

Our true identity is something closer to who we were in kindergarten than who we were in high school. How do we recover it?

How do we learn to open our hearts again, and at the same time guard them against the fear, guilt, and even shame that impedes our relationships?

The answer: Jesus.

We must allow Jesus to take us back into our story to recover who we are - who He made us to be,  and who we were before we started to listen to a world full of critics and referees.  This is the hardest battle of all: trading all the conditional love and attention for unconditional.

The evil days have come, and there are more yet to arrive.  Our enemy, the one who violently opposes who we truly are as image bearers of God, is constantly devising strategies to oppress, bind, and confuse.  It’s what they do.  The choice to first see/accept that, and then address it might just be the most courageous thing a heart can do.  A Kingdom man or woman's first priority must be to open your heart to Jesus while at the same time defending your heart against the enemy of Life and Love.  Receiving God’s love … experiencing it is the only way to see the game changed, the lost battles reclaimed, and become who we truly are and were born to be.

There is a reason we have been issued armor.  We're going to need it.