There is blood on your armor. It is bent, marred, and scarred with years of service, and your body is worn, tired, and giving way. Not too long ago, your armor was shiny and new. Still wet from the baptismal, you looked down the long and narrow path ahead of you, took your sword into your hand, and set out in service of your King. The vitality of youth and the excitement of future conquests drove you forward, but it did not take long to realize it was not exactly as you thought it would be, and your motivations faltered.
The strength of your youth began to fade long ago, and the battles did not go as planned. Often, you flinched as you failed to trust the armor when the fiery arrows flew toward you. The enemies you faced did not simply back down at your appearance. On the contrary, your peculiarity provoked them. Too often, you dropped your sword to blend in and avoid the battle. Other times you attempted to use weapons not sanctioned by your King. This misuse only exposed you further. Despite these failures, you felt your belt cinch up to secure your armor, and your sword always found its way back into your hand. You pressed on.
The external enemies were terrible enough, but what you did not expect were the internal ones, of which there were two types. Many attacks you faced did not come from without but from those appearing to wear similar armor as yours. These surprise attacks caught you off guard more than once, and the injuries were significant. It took time for the bones and bruises to mend. It even reopened some older wounds and knocked you off balance as you lost your footing. Your feet seemed unable to move forward, but suddenly they were equipped and prepared for the work, and you put one foot in front of the other.
Then there were the battles, not with friend or foe, but with yourself: the doubt, the fatigue, and the desire to abandon your regiment for the pleasures of civilian life. The enemy held out forbidden fruit, and the passions that war against your soul were often more powerful than your resolve to serve your King. You repeatedly reached out, took the fruit, and ingested it. It made you weak, and the enemy’s weapons besieged your breastplate, but it never failed. Over the years, several blows to your helmet caused you to stagger and doubt your enlistment. But every time, the fear would eventually fade and be replaced with love, power, and a sound mind. In a strength not your own, you continued to march.
Despite being struck down, you were not destroyed. Whether the enemy was external or internal, friend or foe, mild or severe, you heard the voice of your Captain beckoning you home. Oh, that precious voice. It was not only a beautiful sound off in the distance; it was intimate and filled your heart with courage. It lifted you up time and time again. It prepared your feet, guarded your heart, raised your shield, and wielded your sword.
As for your battered armor, it is not a disgrace but an homage to your Lord. In all your conflicts, it never failed you. In all your injuries, it preserved your life even when your body failed because the kind of life it protects is similar to the battle in which it is engaged. We do not wrestle against flesh and blood but against principalities and powers, and this armor never promised to keep your flesh and blood from failing. Instead, it guards your spiritual life, and that life is eternal. No failure can foil it, no cancer can cancel it, no heartbreak can hinder it, and even death cannot defeat it.
There is blood on your armor, but it is not your own. The blood of Jesus purchased your armor, and the Holy Spirit is the one who dressed you in it. He is the one who placed the helmet of salvation on your head. His precious blood covers every dropped sword, every use of non-sanctioned weapons, every taste of forbidden fruit, and every misstep. Thanks to Jesus’s sacrifice on the cross, you are not only enlisted in the King’s army, but you are also his child.
You may no longer be fresh and new, but in your frailty, you are stronger than ever. The strength of youth and the thrill of conquest have been replaced by something more sure—a heart aflame with the Holy Spirit, trust in your King, and an ear attuned to his voice. Years of experience have proven his faithfulness. Therefore, you do not lose heart. Though the outer man is wasting away, the inner man is being renewed day by day.
Soon you will face the final enemy death, and it trembles. It has lost its sting, and its victory is nowhere to be found. The Holy Spirit has secured your blood-soaked armor; he is raising you to your feet, positioning your shield, and readying your sword. Rise, soldier, and set your eyes on the prize. Your Father is calling you home.