The Armor of God

I was out running errands with the two little ones recently, moseying through one of my favorite all-purpose discount stores that features home goods, cute shoes and lots of low-priced stationary.

This store also has a very fine toy section and as we neared it that morning, I eyed my watch and realized we had enough time to let Henry take a look at the offerings. Most days, I feel like we are zipping in and out of stores and I avoid these brightly-colored aisles like the plague — too much time, too much money, too many requests for things we just don’t need.

Lately, however, I’ve been having this revelation — maybe it’s summer, maybe it’s just me, but I’m realizing that I am too often in a hurry just because. How many times am I running around at break-neck speed only to get home and then hurry some more? I rush out the door, and then down the road and then from one place to the next.

Some days that’s just how things are, but on this particular morning I was conscious of our schedule and realized we had some time to spare. So I let Henry take a look (and sure enough he had plenty of requests).

As Henry is our fifth son, I tend to say no to most of these requests. At this stage of the game, I can now look at a toy in the store and predict how many weeks until it’s in the bag headed to Goodwill. If there is a toy for a boy that stands the test of time, chances are we already own it.

But of course there is always room for exception and as we turned the corner to leave the toy section, Henry spotted a large bag filled with plastic armor — a shield, a breastplate, a helmet and a sword.

My boy gasped with delight.

“Can I get this mama?”

“You bet,” was my immediate reply.

It’s true I’m probably getting a little soft. With most of our boys past the stage of dress-up play, I find myself quick to keep Henry little. I know how painfully fast this sweet season flies and if he wants to be a superhero, I am happy to oblige.

What also made my decision so easy was an immediate flashback to the same sets of armor Henry’s older brothers all had only a few years ago. Those sets, now tattered and torn, were part of our ritual of putting on the Armor of God, a daily prayer from my own family that I had passed on to my boys.

“Put on the armor of God,” Paul writes in Ephesians, “so that you may be able to stand firm against the tactics of the devil.” Each morning we would “put on” the breastplate of righteousness, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

We did that when the boys were little and then, in an instant, they were not the small boys who constantly donned their armor. They started to grow and the armor was cast aside, and while the parts of the Armor of God are remembered, the daily act of putting them on began to fade.

And here was Henry, eager for armor and me, suddenly, remembering we needed to train our boy in this family tradition. I was excited about revisiting this custom, not only to teach Henry but also as an opportunity to remind my big boys. You are never too old for the Armor of God — I myself need it now more than ever.

As soon as we were home and back with his brothers, Henry immediately pulled out his new armor to show his biggest fans. They ooohed and awwwed and proceeded to teach him how to properly hold the shield and fasten the breastplate.

“Do you know about the Armor of God,” one of the boys asked Henry, and as they explained each component, I prayed they would all remember the importance of this armor throughout the rest of their lives.

When Elliott was little, his godfather gave him this Armor of God poster, which is still hanging in his room.

This column originally appeared in The Southern Cross.

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Comments

  1. I absolutely adore this post! What a great way to teach our little man about the Armor of God! Thanks for being an inspiration this morning!

  2. Thank you for this post! My husband just came home with a shield and sword for our 3 yr old son; I think we may need to add this to our own morning prayer ritual!

  3. Melissa Buttry says:

    I love, love this idea. Thank youfor sharing.

  4. Catherine Carlson says:

    Been a reader for a while, but this post made me finally comment. You are a wonderful mother and this world needs more women like you.

  5. I love this idea! Any thought on how you might adapt this for your daughter, for us mothers with girls?

    • I think when Isabel is old enough I’ll do the exact same thing. I like the idea (mentioned below) of talking about warrior female saints, like St. Joan of Arc. But I think for girls it might be enough to just don the armor; not all girls will be inclined to then act out a battle scene (like my guys always have!).

  6. We also have an Armor of God costume! The kids love it! My oldest son memorized the verses from Ephesians for a presentation and every time All Saints’ comes around he’s always trying to think of a saint so he can use his armor: and there are SO many. This past year he was St Martin of Tours. 🙂 As for adapting for girls, how about St Joan of Arc?

  7. I love the poster! As a kid I had one of those short suits of armor you see in junk shops (I begged for it as a birthday present – I don’t know why now), and now my mom uses it in her 6-7 year old Sunday School room especially for this lesson. The kids make signs with the text printed on them and paste them on the armor suit one week at a time. It’s their all-time favorite project, and the older kids even get a little jealous each year (“Oh look! The littles in Mrs.L’s class are doing the armor lesson! I miss it!”). Too cute.

  8. AgnesRegina says:

    That is just made of awesome! What a great idea! If I ever have boys I will have to keep this in mind!