That uniform! Maybe it’s on a hanger in the back of the closet. Perhaps it’s packed away in the attic. One thing is certain: the uniform of every veteran rests somewhere, if only in memories. Looking at the old pictures, thinking back to what that uniform meant, the Vet is bound to ask, “I wonder if it still fits?” Maybe it would. And maybe many would have to admit, “Only in my dreams.” We outgrow many things as we move along in life. Not just clothing. We have outgrown ideas and feelings, as well.
Looking back, we may wonder why we thought it was so cool to have those white socks with the blue suede shoes, or those bellbottom slacks. They may have fit well with our life back then. Now they don’t. It makes us wonder about what else no longer fits us.
Our thoughts go to the uniform that the Savior God has provided for us. We might think of it as body armor. In reality, it is armor for the soul. Does that uniform still fit? Some of us may have put it on while still a small child. Maybe we set it aside for a while during our early years. Perhaps we put it on again when we found ourselves in some dangerous place. We may have lost track of it when we returned safely. If we are not wearing it today, it is high time that we put it back on.
Remember what that uniform is made of? Belt of truth, breastplate of righteousness, readiness provided by the gospel of peace, shield of faith, helmet of salvation and sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. Why do we desperately need it? The apostle tells us: “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” (Ephesians 6:12).
This is not the Cold War. The enemy is not Charlie or Haji. He is not across some ocean. We did not leave him behind when we left the war zone, or even when we took off the military uniform. He is there when we wake in the morning, and at night he can invade our sleep. He is looking to take prisoners. He has taken many. He wants to take us. What’s going to stop him? God. Without our Creator and Redeemer, we have no hope. With him, we need have no fear.
On Golgotha he crushed the Serpent’s head. The victory has been won. But Satan still searches for victims. He denies that he is defeated. He tempts, and he promises. He lies, and he deceives. We are not mere spectators to this life and death battle. We have not been told to, “Stand down!” Not yet. Not while we still draw a breath. Each day the Commander stands us up for action. He tells us, “Take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” We are to put on the 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.” And again, “Stand firm then…” “Put on the full armor of God!”
And our response? What else but, “Sir! Yes sir!” The uniform still fits. “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes” (Ephesians 6:10,11).
We heed the words sung by veterans of spiritual battles who have gone before us:
“My soul, be on thy guard; ten thousand foes arise,
And hosts of sin are pressing hard to draw thee from the skies.
Oh, watch and fight and pray, the battle ne’er give o’er
Renew it boldly every day and help divine implore.
Ne’er think the victory won nor lay thine armor down;
Thine arduous work will not be done till thou obtain thy crown.
Fight on, my soul till death shall bring thee to thy God;
He’ll take thee at thy parting breath to his divine abode.” Amen.
Hymn 449—The Lutheran Hymnal