If you’ve read any of my posts in the past year, you know that I love to mountain bike. God seems to speak to me as I climb hills, pick my way through rocky spots and roll through shifting soil. I’ve been riding for quite a few years without any major incidents. There has been a minor crash or two, but nothing too serious.
Until this past summer, I’d never even gotten a flat tire. And then, in the span of a few weeks, I got two. Both times I was out on an early morning ride with a close girlfriend when I realized I’d run over a thorn and was losing air fast. I’m embarrassed to admit it, but I’d never learned to change a flat (my only consolation was that she didn’t know either). Our solution was to leave in the thorn to plug the hole and pump the tire back up. I’d ride my bike as far as I could until the tire was too flat, then we’d stop and repeat the whole process. Both times, I made it home with only a minor amount of walking after I’d parted ways with her. Here’s the worst part, though. In my “Camelbak” (a small backpack that holds water), I had a patch kit, a new tube and tire irons. The problem was, I had no idea how to use them.
Years ago my husband lovingly placed all the needed tools to change a flat into my “Camelbak” so that I’d be prepared in an emergency. The one thing we’d never taken time to do was make sure I knew how to use them. I’ll admit it– I’m spoiled and let him do about 95% of my bike maintenance (I pump up the tires and hose it off when it’s muddy, that’s about it).
After my second flat, I called my husband. “I think it’s time for me to learn how to change a tire.”
That night, he gave me a lesson. I wasn’t 100% confident in my abilities, however I at least knew the basics.
A few days later my husband and I went for a ride. We’d been on the trail for about 20 minutes when I noticed my front tire going flat. It was my third thorn of the summer after going years without a flat. Very frustrating.
We pulled out our tools and I was actually somewhat helpful as my husband found the leak and repaired it with a patch. So instead of turning around and limping my way home with a deflating tire that continually needed air, we were able to finish our ride and enjoy a sunny summer afternoon.
I’d had the tools on every ride– the difference was that now I knew how to use them. Even better, I had someone there to help me.
Riding home I started thinking about the study we just started on Gideon. In Week One of Priscilla Shirer says:
“Like it or not, spiritual warfare exists. We may never take up arms with a shield and sword like Gideon, but we are no less in a battle every day. We know it. We feel it. Victory requires constant effort to take ‘every thought captive to the obedience of Christ’ (2 Cor. 10:5). By God’s Spirit, we can be successful—the same way the judges were” (p. 31).
She then asks three penetrating questions:
1. “Does the enemy have to think twice about his schemes against your family because of your watchful presence?”
2. “Do the enemy’s attempts become quickly thwarted because you are alert and prayerful?”
3. “Are you on guard and aware of the spiritual nature behind physical events in your life?”
I’ll translate her questions a different way to connect to my story:
Do we have the tools we need but fail to us them?
Or how about this:
Do we have the tools but not know how to use them?
God has given us his Word and the Holy Spirit–two incredibly powerful “tools” in our “Spiritual Camelbaks.” But, have we taken the time to learn about them and how to use them?
Ephesians 6:10-18 is probably the most well-known passage relating to spiritual warfare:
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 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. 13 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. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.
Take a look at verse 17. Do you see it? The sword of the Spirit is the word of God! Knowing God’s word and relying on the Spirit are our best offensive weapons.
Priscilla Shirer puts it this way: “Our goal must be to flesh out the truths of God’s Word, open ourselves to His activity in our daily lives, learn from those who are doing it well, and seek to inspire others through our example” (p. 35).
Time spent studying the Bible is time well spent. Time spent studying it consistently with others is even better. Asking God to fill you to overflowing with His Spirit is the best way to meet spiritual attack.
And just like my husband was there to teach me how to use my tools and to help me out on the trail when I got my flat, the Holy Spirit is always there with us once we’ve accepted Christ as our Savior. When we’re involved in a Bible Study with others, we have them to help us along the way too. Pray and invite more of His Presence into your life. Pray that God will open your eyes so that you can see where He is at work. Then, sit back and enjoy the ride.