If there was ONE thing I enjoyed the most as a child, I would have to say it was playing dress-up.  Sure, I liked the “princess-y” dresses handed down from my mom and her friends.  Putting on turquoise eye shadow and garish orange lipstick. (I was quite a sight to behold.)  But I also loved tying on an apron and pretending to be a waitress in a fancy restaurant as I served my mom a tuna fish sandwich and iced tea for lunch.  Wearing an oversized white dress shirt of my dad’s and using a play stethoscope as “Dr. Melinda” checked her doll’s heartbeat.  While that feels like ages ago (cause it WAS), I still remember the feeling of letting go of all of the things I didn’t like about being me and, for just a moment, becoming someone else.  Someone who looked differently, spoke differently and someone with a career, a purpose and (of course) cool clothes to wear (well, they seemed cool at the TIME).
This week we spoke about the armor of God – specifically as it relates to our virtue this month – Determination.  The kids in 3rd thru 5th got to race to see who could put pieces of homemade “armor” on a classmate the fastest.  Our younger kiddos made “mini soldiers” with their own complete sets of God’s armor.  A couple of us “grownups” even put on the armor ourselves and wore it around church.  (The scary thing was some people didn’t seem to even question what we were wearing or WHY….)  The ultimate take away, however, was remembering God doesn’t give us a job (mission) without giving us what we need to get that job done.  And KNOWING God does this can help us stay determined to completing the task at hand.   For those of you who (like me) need a reminder as to WHAT make up the pieces of God’s armor, here you go:  Helmet of Salvation, Breastplate of Righteousness, Belt of Truth, Sandals of Good News of Peace, Shield of Faith, Sword of the Holy Spirit/God’s Word (Ephesians 6:14-17).
We had a lot of fun this morning “dressing up” in God’s armor and cutting out paper armor for paper dolls.  And that’s not really a surprise.  We ALL like getting a chance to try on new things, to take on new identities.  To take something (including ourselves) and to make it new.  Better.  Stronger or smarter or faster.  But we know that, at the end of play time, we all go back to being who we are.  Back to reality.  We also know dress-up is NOT the same as really becoming that person – I can wear a lab coat but never have to hold the hand of a dying patient or put an apron, but avoid being on my feet for eight hours serving people non-stop.  Dressing up allows us to have the fun.  Without the responsibility.
And I started to wonder if, when it comes to God’s armor, to the gifts He gives me to complete His mission, perhaps I am simply playing dress-up.  See, putting on costumes is fun.  For a while.  Until they start to itch.  Get uncomfortable.  Make us stand out and look a little silly.  And then costumes STOP being fun.  So off comes the wig, the poofy dress, the super constricting space man suit.  But, when following God gets uncomfortable and stops being “fun,” do I also start to discard all that He has given me so I can feel “better?”  Do I look at God’s provisions (and His mission for that matter) as things I can pick up or set down whenever I feel like it?  When I would rather not spend time in God’s Word, for example, do I just set down my sword and say, “Yeah, that was fun.  I’m taking a break now.  Just gonna put this in my closet until later.”
I believe the painful truth is something soldiers know all too well.  Armor is not comfortable.  It is heavy.  It is cumbersome.  It makes you stand out.  It’s a lot to keep track of.
And it can save their lives.  Often so they can save the lives of others.
God’s armor is not a costume.
And when we think of ALL that is included in His armor, why would we EVER want to remove it?
So, here we go.
Suit up people.
Play time is over.
Melinda Lamera
Sun Grove Children’s Ministry