By Dawn Mattera
I remember reading in high school about jousts and full-out battles during the medieval period across Europe. Being so far removed not only logistically from a place an ocean and a continent away, as a teenager, I was also far removed from the mentality of those who lived a thousand years ago. As I read, in particular of the jousts between armored knights, I’m afraid that I did more romanticizing concerning their ‘sport’ than what, in reality, was at stake for them.
I do know, though, that as a soldier went into battle, or a knight into a joust that they were fully prepared. I’m thinking that not ever once did a soldier go into battle saying, “Now just what did I do with that spear?” And I’m sure that a knight never forged ahead saying, “Why in the world would I forget my helmet? Oh, no – I forgot my breastplate! What is the matter with me – I could get killed!” No, they were fully prepared to deal with whatever would come their way that day.
Several years ago, I took a small van as a mode of transportation from Brașov, the city where I live in Romania, to Sebiș in northwestern RO. It was an eleven-hour trip – and one that I would never want to do again. The roads we travelled, sometimes at a break-neck speed, were narrow and winding. Behind me in the van were four very drunk and loud men. In front of me were two lovely quiet younger people, and across from me was an older and very smelly woman who had embarked on this long trip with nothing to eat except something that looked like green plant leaves. She so gratefully accepted an orange that I had peeled and sectioned before I left Brașov. Because of the poverty in my beloved Romania, when this sweet lady was finished with the orange, asked me if I wanted the baggie back . . .
Sitting ahead of me and diagonally across from me, was a mother and a child. Only the mother knew what would happen at any minute on that trip. The child would be throwing up from time to time with the mother’s holding the vomit in a small plastic bag until we came to a place where the driver had to slow down a bit, and then it would be hurled out a window. In the meantime, we had to endure the stench of that child’s sick stomach. This was the worst road trip I had ever been on in my entire life! Bouncing up and down in the van on bumpy roads, the driver taking corners on what seemed to be just two wheels, the horrific smells, the crude drunk guys – eleven hours of nearly unbearable endurance, I was tempted from time to time to voice my ‘not so holy’ opinion.
This trip didn’t end with what I have mentioned above. I heard the driver call (yell) back the name of the village that I knew was my destination. But as I looked out the window, it was pitch-black – nearly midnight without a glimmer of light anywhere. The driver yelled at me again. If I didn’t get off the van, I would have to travel another four hours to ‘who knows where’, and then what? I had friends who were supposed to meet me in this village, but they were no where in sight. Nothing was in sight!! The young fellow in front of me who could speak some English said, ‘’You must get off here before he (the driver) gets really angry’’. (I thought he already was!) In fear and trembling, I stepped off the van onto the side of the narrow road desperately trying to call my friends, but there was never an answer. I was frantically nervous when I would see a big truck come around the corner. Do you know what went through the drivers’ minds when they saw a woman standing on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere?! I prayed, “God, please don’t let them stop. Please!!” I would hold my little flip-phone to my ear as if I was talking to someone to try and thwart (is that still a word) them off.
I remember, then, of looking up into the heavens – so black – but so dotted with thousands and thousands of the most beautiful bright stars – and calling out to my Creator, “You are not only ‘out there’, Lord, You are right in here, too, (pointing to my heart). I sensed such a warmth and peace come over me. I could both inhale and exhale, freely. Filled with joy, I quoted copious Scripture of my assurance of His love and care for me. For me! His child! And as if He didn’t know His own Word, I quoted more Scripture to Him of His never leaving nor forsaking me – Deuteronomy 31.6, Isaiah 41.10, Psalm 46.1 – and so many more. I had never felt safer or more secure in my life.
Well, ultimately, I sensed that this had been a spiritually ‘stretching’ experience for me – that our Lord God, Almighty was testing me to see how much I loved and trusted Him. My friends came along in a few minutes and apologized the whole hour’s drive to their home. But had I waited until the ‘battle’ or this particular spiritual ‘joust’ to try and combat the ‘evil one’, I never would have endured without physically, mentally and spiritually collapsing.
Ephesians 6:10-18 describes the seven pieces of the armor of God. They are to be applied daily to every part of our body, mind and spirit. Had I waited until that harrowing experience on the way from Brașov to Sebiș, I would have been wondering where ‘my lance/my helmet’ was, or I, undoubtedly, would have said something very un-Christ like on the van. Had I waited until the fear of that very dark night and the dangers that could have changed my life forever to look where ‘my breastplate’ was, I never would have come forth from the situation victoriously. In our walk with Jesus, He means for us to apply each piece of His armor, daily, so that when an unexpected/fearful/potentially harmful occurrence arises, we are ready to ‘joust’ – we are ready to ‘go to battle’. BTW, His armor can be found anywhere in the Word – not just in Ephesians 6. All of Scripture is meant to be a preparation for our daily walk with the Savior. I am so glad that even when I don’t feel like it, our Almighty God clothes me in His armor (nearly) daily! Thank You, my precious Creator, Savior, and Sustainer!