ARE YOU READY? Pay attention and listen to the sayings of the wise; apply your heart to what I teach, for it is pleasing when you keep them in your heart and have all of them ready on your lips. So that your trust may be in the LORD. Proverbs 22:17–19a
It seems like we al-ways have to get ready for something. Just last month we had to get ready for exams in high school. We have to get ready for family pictures. Each week we get ready for school or for work. We get ready to go out with friends or go to a basketball game. Each Sunday morning we get ready to go to church.
Getting ready is not always just about getting ready physically. There is more to it than getting cleaned up and getting dressed or putting on make-up. There is a mental and emotional side to getting ready as well. For school we have to get mentally ready for a test by studying. Sometimes you have to mentally/emotionally prepare for the razing Uncle Bob is going to give you at your family gathering. You get mentally prepared when your team is going to play the big rivals in basketball. You try to get mentally/emotionally prepared for that first date but often are too nervous and can‘t think straight. You also have to prepare mentally for the church service so that you’re ready to meet with the people of God to worship Him. If you do not get ready for this men-tally you won’t give God the proper praise due Him and you won’t receive the full blessing that you would otherwise receive.
There still is another side to being ready or prepared. It is your spiritual side. While you are getting ready for anything whether physically, mentally, or emotionally, your spirituality is right there with you. It is not something you can put in a box and then take out for church services, catechism, youth group, weddings and funerals. The spiritual part of your being is with you right now, even as you read this article, and when you eat dinner with your family, and when you are out with your friends.
When God breathed into Adam at creation, God placed a soul in Adam. God did not do this act with any other part of creation. Only man has a soul and his soul works in tandem with his mind, conscience, and emotions. Only man is created in the image of God and God is all spirit. We are like God because we have been given a spirit/soul (with mind, conscience and emotions) unlike other creatures. Our soul was given to us in our mother’s womb and we can’t get rid of it or toss it aside. It is always a part of us.
If we think of the piece of armor that God gives us in preparation of our spiritual battle, it should help us understand the readiness that we need to have. Ephesians 6:15 says, “and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.”
In life you want to stand on something solid that will not slip away. I remember in Costa Rica a couple of years ago walking in a jungle-like area with my youth group. We went to see some property where a new Christian high school was going to be built.
While we were walking down a particularly steep hill, many of us were slipping and falling into the mud. Everyone was trying not to fall. We all tried to grab some weeds or small trees for support and find a place to firmly set our feet. If one of our feet slipped, it didn’t matter what we were holding in our hands—we would still fall. We found out that a person needs a firm foundation to stand, otherwise he will fall.
In the past, soldiers in the Roman army used to wear some kind of spike on their footwear. Those spikes served several purposes. The soldiers were able to move faster than any other army. Imagine thousands of men walking on a muddy road or up a wet field. Their spikes would keep them from slipping. They could move faster and they would have better traction to keep moving.
In addition, the spikes could be used as a offensive weapon to kick at the adversary. Finally, in the heat of battle while the enemy is pushing against them, the spikes would help them stand their ground. Today, we see spikes on football and baseball players shoes. Spikes help the athlete do the things that he needs to.
So what do we have as our spiritual spikes? What grounds us so that when the enemy attacks and hammers into us we can stand our ground? It is the Gospel. The good news of Jesus Christ. That is to be our foundation. We cannot slip when we are on the solid ground of the Gospel. We will be ready for battle when we are dug into the Gospel. So, you must keep on digging into God’s Word and getting a good foothold on your spiritual life.
You must understand that you are at war spiritually. The church and her people have always been at war with the devil. One of his attacks is to say that you only need your spiritual life when you are at church. But the war is going on around us constantly and is directed at us constantly. The armor of the shoe calls for continual preparation in the Gospel.
Defensively you need to be able to withstand the blows of life, when a loved one dies, or your father loses his job, or the break up with a boyfriend or girlfriend, or a friend that wants you to go drinking on Friday night. The devil is not going to stop the assault on you.
When you are grounded in the gospel and have taken the words of God into your heart (mind, conscience, soul, desires/emotions) you will be prepared to strike out offensively with your lips. You can kick up your spikes!
You can help convince another person of his sin with words from the Word of God. You may also turn another from sinning and turn them to God, for God’s glory, honor, and praise.
But you have to be in the Word. You have to know the Gospel. It has to be a part of your heart so that it naturally comes out of your mouth. Then you can be both on the defense and offense at the same time. Then you will you find peace. In God’s Word, in the good news of Jesus Christ and in His faithful promises. Jesus tells us in Matthew 10:34-36 that He did not come to earth to bring peace. He came here to wage war! Trust His Holy Word so you can stand firm and repel the attack. Are you ready?
Mr. Dave Vander Meer is the Youth Director of Cornerstone United Reformed Church in Hudsonville, Michigan.