Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Fighting Naked

As much as I hold a grudge against the legacy she left, there are certain aspects of Eve's character that I find captivating.  I love that she was so completely human; even in her pettiness and manipulation, she reminds me of myself. I'm equally amazed that she had the undivided attention of both God and man and still whispered into history that it wasn't enough for her. Only a woman could absolutely have it all and yet wreck it trying to feel even better about herself.  I'm strangely comforted by the fact that she didn't have a single woman to compare herself to, and yet she still had self-esteem issues-enough so that she fell for Satan's ego-boosting schemes.  I also find it absolutely fascinating that the very complex woman walked naked, but unashamed.  And as much as I love to camp out in Genesis and apply Eve's old truths to my life, I always tend to get stuck on the fact that while she didn't have a thread on her body, she also didn't have a care in the world.  Being naked and unashamed is such a foreign concept for me that I find Daniel, Jonah, Shadrach, Meschach and Abednego far more believable than a naked woman without shame.

I happen to know that I'm not the only person to ever wake up in the middle of the night clutching the bedsheets about my throat saying, "It was only a dream, Sue.  You weren't really at school (or church, or the airport, or the county fair) naked." As a matter of fact, every time I share that horrible dream with someone, I'm always entertained with stories of the similar dreams of my peers.  I have a friend who dreamed that they showed up to a medical conference without a stitch of clothing.  I have another who told me about a nightmare which ended shortly after they realized they were being welcomed as the keynote speaker onto a grand stage, only to look down and realize that not only were they naked, but the miracle cream they'd thrown a hundred bucks at was a complete waste of money.  And even if we don't actually dream about showing up to the important parts of our life without our clothing, we still fear being stripped down to the naked truth in public.  For years, I've assumed that Eve's lack of shame in her nakedness was attributed to her lack of sin, and for the most part, I still do.  But lately, as I pray and think about ways to teach the young folks in my life how to fight the raging battles for their hearts and souls, Eve's nakedness has come to mean a bit more to me.

Eve, for all of her complexities and issues, did exactly what I'm praying the people I love choose not to do;  SHE FOUGHT NAKED.  She really did.  Eve showed up to war without her britches on.  And it wasn't just her pants she forgot, she stood on the front line of the world's first war without a thread of clothing to cover her flesh.  SHE WAS NAKED, alright.  And in a picture that would last for all eternity, Eve attempted to do battle with the evil one with absolutely NOTHING separating her FLESH from her ENEMY. 

Bear with me, here.  I know I'm speaking in pictures now, but try to see it with me.  Imagine that her physical nakedness was a symbolic picture of our spiritual nakedness.  Imagine that the portrait in our minds of a soft, chunky Eve with an apple in the beautiful garden is actually our greatest motivation to put our clothes on before we attempt to do our daily business with an evil one lurking about. I know what you're thinking.  You're thinking that the idea of someone doing life without their clothes on is made-for-reality-tv-madness.  You're thinking that I must be the only one on the planet who would even dream of going about my ordinary day with no regard to the fact that every part of my being is vulnerable and exposed.  No, you say, folks simply don't try to do life naked.  But, I say we do.  As a matter of fact, I say it's very possible that even though YOU are in the midst of a destiny-changing battle at this very moment, you're doing so without an inch of fabric separating you from the enemy who desires your demise.  I wonder how many of us are mothers engaged in a battle for the souls of our children without our clothes on.  I worry that some of us are fathers, camped out in the middle of a war for our families and instead of being able to fight the good fight, we're distracted by the nagging sense that we're not prepared for the fight at all, while oblivious to the fact that we left our wardrobe at home. 

Think about it, friends.  God told us to cover ourselves before we do battle with the one who hates us.  He didn't just say, "Suit up," and leave it at that.  He gave us detailed instructions about what we should wear.  He told us what to protect.  He shared with us exactly what to don and how and why, but at the end of the day, the moral to all of His instruction and advice sounded a lot like this:

Don't fight naked.

God wouldn't say that, you say?  Well, let me remind you what you probably taught in Sunday school last month...

Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

You see?  God told us a truth that Eve didn't understand.  With His Word and His Wisdom, he showed us that we'll never win a battle that we try to fight without our clothes on.  In telling us how to WIN A SPIRITUAL BATTLE, He also very clearly told us HOW TO LOSE.  The quickest way to lose a battle with your enemy is to show up for war donning only your flesh, talents, abilities and resources.  If you care to win in any way that counts in this life, you've got to swallow the truth that you'll never do it alone-and you'll certainly never do it naked.  And the scariest part?  You're in the thick of war this very instant- whether you realize it or not.  That means that if you forgot a few important articles of clothing THIS MORNING, you are losing a battle THIS AFTERNOON.  It could be a battle for your ministry, your purpose or your future.  It could be a battle for your talents, your time or your resources.  It could very well be a battle for your integrity, your self-esteem, your character, or even your family or your children. The fact that we can't sense the battle should only serve as a great motivation to go and look in the mirror.

So, wake up and take a gander at yourself.  Are you naked?  Are you vulnerable?  Are you exposed?  Have you followed your Father's advice today?  Did you put Him on this morning?  Are your pants being held securely in place by the belt of truth?  Is your well spring of life being protected by His righteousness?  Is your ministry covered with the Gospel of Peace?  Are you holding a shield of wide-awake faith?  Is your mind covered with a helmet that constantly reminds your thoughts of your Salvation?  And is your hand on the handle of the Sword that finds its very power in the vowels, consonants and punctuations found between the covers of your Bible?  Are you, in fact, able to stand your ground against the one who wants to steal your joy, kill your heart and destroy your future?  Or, are you instead, standing naked and vulnerable in the face of a very crafty enemy?

We weren't meant to lose, friends.  I mean that.  We simply weren't meant to watch our marriages fail.  We were never supposed to break the hearts of our children.  We weren't made to walk away from our Father, medicate ourselves with false hope, spend our hours dancing with vain imaginations.  We weren't designed to swallow the guilt we've bought, lie the lies we tell or try to sleep without the character we've sold.  We simply weren't made to lose...

And we weren't made to fight naked.

For the love of God people, put your clothes on!

(And if you don't know how, message me at faithmyeyes@msn.com or look me up on facebook.  I'd love to help!)