I recently went to a dance performance by a well-known company, known both for its artistic accomplishment and the skill of the dancers. I enjoyed every moment: the choreography, the music, the emotion, the athleticism, the humor. There was one moment in particular where a statuesque male dancer stands still as his female partner comes running and then leaping toward him. He catches her—making the whole thing appear effortless—never having to brace himself, never having leaned into the jump. It was an act of great strength coming from hours of disciplined practice.
We don’t often appreciate what goes into the strength of such a moment. The ability to stand and respond to a force that is moving toward you without losing ground or composure comes from discipline. Paul speaks to such discipline in the letter to the Ephesians when he describes the components of a soldier’s armor:
Ephesians 6:13 – “Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.”
No soldier goes to battle without training and then suiting up. Every component has a place and a purpose for our well-being. The weapons we’ve been given are useless if we don’t learn to stand our ground. No piece of armor can replace the steadfastness of the heart within.
Paul’s description of the armor comes at the end of a long letter about learning to live and love God. Paul counsels his friends to rid themselves of sin, bitterness and anger toward one another. He tells them they must walk in love and leave corruption behind them.
If we are going to stand, it must first begin with a purified heart. A heart strengthened by mercy, grace and uncompromising love for God. A heart of love is the strength to stand in every battle. The weapons of our warfare are powerful; they are wielded by powerful sons and daughters that carry the heart of Jesus.