Are You an Armor-Bearer?
Nov 08, 2015 03:34AM
By Bonnie Lyn Smith
I had just sent a quick “Pray for us!” email to a mentor and friend in the middle of a very difficult crossroads in my life. There was a decision coming I had seen from a distance for a while but tried for two years to navigate around it—finding a different path—to avoid going through it.
And here we now were. My heart hurt as reality settled in. One of my children needed yet another intervention to smooth out the bumps in his road. It was a last resort for me. Not Plan A or B but really Z. “God, why are we going down that path? I told You that was not desirable!” (Um, in hindsight, that was rather arrogant of me!)
Within 5 minutes of my heart’s cry going out over email, this dear woman’s reply was as follows:
“We are praying for His grace and His calling on this tender-hearted warrior for God.”
What? A Warrior? Oh, wow. We couldn’t feel weaker than we do right now—more like at our wit’s end. What do you mean by warrior? Warriors have strength. Where is the might in this? I see us in a heap of surrender. I really don’t view this as a victory.
But that’s not at all what she was saying. She was conveying big picture. She was speaking a hopeful future into a temporarily hopeless situation. By calling him a warrior, she was saying that there is something significant after the battle, on the horizon where weak-muscled, scrawny youths rise up and bear arms with incredible fortitude.
In the meantime, it doesn’t mean his heart doesn’t needing tending to get him ready.
What was my lovely advisor doing in those few words besides casting long-term vision to my short-term focus? She was bearing his arms for him until he could hold them himself. Actually, she was bearing up mine.
Jonathan was King Saul’s son, a beloved friend of David (son of Jesse), who was later to be crowned King David of Israel. Jonathan was known for his kind manner but strength. 1 Samuel 14:6-13 gives us an idea of how he functioned in relationship with his armor-bearer.
1 Samuel 14:6-13, ESV, author
Jonathan said to the young man who carried his armor, "Come, let us go over to the garrison of these uncircumcised. It may be that the LORD will work for us, for nothing can hinder the LORD from saving by many or by few."
And his armor-bearer said to him, "Do all that is in your heart. Do as you wish. Behold, I am with you heart and soul."
Then Jonathan said, "Behold, we will cross over to the men, and we will show ourselves to them.
If they say to us, 'Wait until we come to you,' then we will stand still in our place, and we will not go up to them.
But if they say, 'Come up to us,' then we will go up, for the LORD has given them into our hand. And this shall be the sign to us."
So both of them showed themselves to the garrison of the Philistines. And the Philistines said, "Look, Hebrews are coming out of the holes where they have hidden themselves."
And the men of the garrison hailed Jonathan and his armor-bearer and said, "Come up to us, and we will show you a thing." And Jonathan said to his armor-bearer, "Come up after me, for the LORD has given them into the hand of Israel."
Then Jonathan climbed up on his hands and feet, and his armor-bearer after him. And they fell before Jonathan, and his armor-bearer killed them after him.
An armor-bearer was a distinguished attendant who carried the shield and other weapons of a king, captain, or other official during battle. They put themselves in harm’s way in the front lines with those for whom they were carrying the extra weight.
Has anyone done this for you lately?
- Hold up your heavy weapons and shield as you march forth through your personal battles?
- Go alongside you?
- Follow your lead but have your back?
- Speak this to you, as Jonathan’s armor-bearer did: "Do all that is in your heart. Do as you wish. Behold, I am with you heart and soul”?
Oh my! Isn’t that beautiful?
As we approach Veteran’s Day this week, many warriors have fought battles we didn’t have to. They have faced foes we’ll never know.
It makes me mindful that we are all veterans of something. We have all fought a battle where someone else could benefit from our sure, practiced footing and our ability to hold them up.
What armor do you see around you that needs picking up and coming alongside?
Or, alternatively, what trench are you finding yourself in staring down an enemy you just met: cancer, grief, advocacy, infertility, financial loss?
Look around you. Are there people God has put around you who know how to navigate that and who have the capacity to hold your gear for a little while?
Not everyone is meant to do this for us, and in some seasons of life, our armor-bearers are different people. God sends them the assignment of “us” or us “them,” and we carry each other through until that battle is over.
Don’t count yourself unqualified. Don’t dismiss yourself as not having value.
If you ask God to tell you who needs your help, and you are willing to face off and go another round in an area in which you’ve experienced victory before, He will send you out. I assure you there is no greater feeling than knowing that you are strong enough to not only get yourself through but to bring another warrior to the other side as well.
I choose to embrace the armor-bearers in my life. It doesn’t mean I am forever weak; it just means my muscles need a veteran’s training.
If you’re in a position of “stuck,” won’t you allow a former warrior to get you over that hill?
You’ll be amazed how much better the company of two or more is than crossing that territory alone.
Author Bonnie Lyn Smith writes about parenting, marriage, mental health advocacy, special education, faith in the valleys of life, the healing cloak of Jesus, drawing healthy boundaries, relational healing, renewing our minds, walking with a Holy God, and much ado about grace. Join the conversation at Espressos of Faith.
Her book, Not Just on Sundays: Seeking God’s Purpose in Each New Day, offers anecdotes on all of these subjects and Scripture for each situation as well as Book Discussion Questions for deeper exploration.