3 Ways to Maintain Our Spiritual Health

Chainmail, Soldier, Spiritual Battle, Protection

No one likes their flaws exposed. We wrap ourselves in armor to protect our egos, but are we wrapping ourselves in the armor of God to protect our souls?

“You don’t want people seeing the chinks in your armor,” I wrote in a creative nonfiction class last year. “Chinks. What does that mean? A weak point, a place of vulnerability, an opening for an attack from the enemy. A minor flaw, so says the online dictionary, or weakness in a plate of armor. A detrimental flaw. A special flaw. There’s an interesting phrase. A special flaw. It’s a special point of weakness that directs the enemy where to attack an otherwise invulnerable person. Are you invulnerable?”

Vulnerability is something of which many of us afraid. After all, who welcomes an attack from the enemy with open arms? We don’t want to be vulnerable, but sometimes, we allow ourselves to become vulnerable when we do not take care of our spiritual well-being. One missing or weak link can be deadly.

In a history class on the Spanish Conquest in 2019, I held a coat of chainmail as my professor lectured on the weapons of the Conquest. It was a small section of a coat of chainmail—about a 12-inch square. Remembering my professor’s lecture, I later described in my essay for a creative nonfiction class how the Europeans manufactured the chainmail while they rested between battles: “A blacksmith would take thousands of tiny metal or steel rings and carefully interlink them by hand. A single coat of chainmail could take months to finish if a skilled blacksmith worked 10-hour days.” If the blacksmith didn’t do his job correctly, it could spell death for the unlucky soldier wearing the flawed coat of chainmail. I became so fascinated with the concept of the process of creating a coat of chainmail that I reflected on its significance—and spiritual parallels—even more in my own writing.

“You imagine the misery of knitting steel for a living in 90-degree weather with 60-percent humidity in the Yucatan Peninsula,” I wrote, “trying to get a piece of chainmail done for a hotshot conquistador so he’s a little more likely to survive the arrows or stabbing spears of the Mayans than the footman who came over for gold and glory with only a helmet and a crossbow….You imagine the fever of smallpox getting to you while linking those steel rings and skipping a section right where the coat will slip over the conquistador’s left shoulder. If the Maya or Aztec crossbowmen spot the opening, the glory-seeking conquistador won’t last long. One small missing chink in his armor, and the obsidian arrow blade will tear through the chainmail as though it were linen instead of steel. A special weakness.”

At this point, you may be wondering why I’m going on about the history of developing chainmail in the Spanish Conquest and including excerpts from my own writing. As a deeply private person, vulnerability has always been a relevant topic to me. Those of us who like to keep things close to the chest tend to guard ourselves with more caution. But there are times when we may all be guilty of caring more about preserving our pride than protecting ourselves from spiritual attacks.

When we’re not prepared and protected, we give the enemy an opportunity to attack. There are at least 3 things we can do to ensure our chainmail is not missing any links:

1.) Stay prayed up.
2.) Stay well-read.
3.) Stay clothed in the armor of God.

(11) “Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
(12) For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
(13) Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.”
~Ephesians 6:11-13 (KJV)

Do we have on the helmet of salvation? Are we carrying the sword of the Spirit? How’s our daily Bible reading? Are we keeping up a daily prayer life?

The armor of God is necessary for our spiritual protection. We are warriors in the Lord’s army, and our battles are spiritual. Just as soldiers must keep their armor in its best condition to protect themselves from harm, so must we keep our armor in its best condition through daily prayer & Bible reading. This also requires frequent checkups of our armor to ensure we’re not missing a crucial piece.

If we aren’t maintaining our spiritual armor, then we are allowing ourselves to be vulnerable to the enemy’s attacks due to our own laziness or carelessness. Without a helmet on, we expose our minds to sinful thoughts. If our shield of faith is missing, then we expose ourselves to the enemy’s arrows.

Proper preparation and protection will help us repel the enemy’s attacks.

Though God is always with us to win the victory, we cannot use His protection as an excuse to be careless with the upkeep of our spiritual well-being.

We may labor under harsh conditions as the blacksmith labored in the Spanish Conquest to develop a flawless coat of chainmail, but our labor is not in vain when we approach our work with purpose and dedication.

We labor in the Kingdom, we pray, and we study the Word so that we can withstand the attack of the enemy, so that there are no chinks in our spiritual armor, so that there are no missing links in our coat of chainmail.

One missing link can be deadly.

So, examine yourself each day and ask this question:

Are you vulnerable?

Prayer and Perseverance

I made it.

After 5 ½ years, I finally walked in my graduation ceremony at Missouri State University. I technically graduated in May, but COVID resulted in a delayed ceremony.

I entered college in the fall of 2015, and it all feels like a century ago. And yet I remember it all so clearly—the all-nighters, the pre-exam dread, the panic attacks when I didn’t get my desired grade on an assignment, the shortness of breath after rushing across campus to get to back-to-back classes in time. I could possibly write a book about my college experience because I took a wide range of challenging courses, had unusual and interesting encounters with students and classmates, and managed to get through it all unscathed. But also slightly traumatized.

The most important accomplishment after 5 ½ years of attending liberal colleges is (as some have told me) that I kept my faith through it all. Indeed, I left college this past May with a stronger understanding of who I am in Christ than I had when I entered college in 2015. There were moments when classmates openly ridiculed conservative and Christian beliefs as though they assumed no one in the room held those beliefs. There were liberal professors who taught ideologies and theories counter to what I believe, but I was always able to discern between the truth and a lie. God kept my mind stayed on Him through it all. There were even so many moments when I was positive I wouldn’t pass a test or keep a 4.0 (which meant the world to me), but every time, I prayed, didn’t give up, and trusted God to take care of it. And He did.

You see, I can’t do anything on my own—pass a test, write a great paper, or withstand others’ ridicule and challenges of my beliefs.

But through Christ, I can do all those things.

I firmly believe that He is the reason I made it this far when I was depressed and burned out from college in 2018. He is the reason I persevered and was able to graduate. He is the reason I can testify today that no amount of secular teaching ever caused me to waver in my faith and belief in Him. The more college exposed me to worldly spirits and points of view, the closer He pulled me to Him because I kept praying and kept believing in Him.

Prayer and perseverance.

That’s it.

If you’re in college right now or thinking of going to college someday soon, be encouraged that you can make it through and finish strong. Don’t stop praying. Don’t stop studying His Word. Don’t stop going to church.

Just breathe. You will make it.

Pray. (Give your cares to God.)

And repeat.

Every single day take it step by step and day by day. Pretty soon, you’ll be looking back over that finish line, relieved that you made it and rejoicing in God for carrying you through.

He did it for me. I know He’ll do it for you.