I was in 4th grade and it was time to test my skills as a ball player. Like every boy, I had the glove, I had the baseball, I had been practicing how to throw with my father, and now it was time to play on a team. I’m not sure how I got signed up, or how I got on this particular team, but I ended up on my father’s team (I didn’t even know he was coaching, or even knew how to coach). We met for practice at the school yard and most of the players were bigger than me, faster than me, could hit better than me, and could throw better than me. Needless to say they were much better ball players than I was.
It was time to get the position assignments and sure enough I got mine…right field, when I played. I didn’t mind right field, not many people hit to right field. That meant that I didn’t have to catch the ball, nor did I have to throw the ball. However, when I was in the game, it did mean that I had to bat. That was not a pretty sight. When I was up to bat, it usually meant an easy out for the other team. I either stood there scared to death and didn’t swing at anything, or I wanted to hit so bad that I swung at everything. Either way, I got out.
One practice, oh I remember it so well, my father decided to try me out at a different position…catcher. He gave me the catcher’s glove, too big. Gave me the special helmet with the face guard on it, too big. Gave me the shin-guards, too big. And gave me the most important piece of equipment for the catcher, the breast covering. Again, it was too big. All the equipment for playing catcher was way too big for me to use and I looked like a fool, but this was my shot to get out of right field.
I walked out on the field and took up my position behind Home plate. I squatted down as best I could. When I looked out to the pitcher’s mound, I froze and realized this was not the position for me. There stood the oldest player on our team, and the best pitcher in the league. He threw the hardest fastball the league had ever seen. Dad told him to just take it easy for a few pitches to warm up. Then start practicing your pitches.
The first pitch came screaming down the lane. I caught it, but it knocked me back on my rear. I had to readjust my gear in order to throw the ball back to him. As I stood to throw the ball back to him, all my gear went flying like crazy. I again had to readjust before crouching behind Home plate. Before crouching back down, my father came over and said, “Let’s take off the shin guards. No one’s going to be running into home today, so you won’t be needing them. And let’s take off the helmet and put on a regular batting helmet. And why don’t you just catch with your glove. However, keep on the chest guard. I think you’re going to need that.”
Well, my father was right. The pitcher wound up for the next pitch and it was a fastball right down the middle. I missed the catch. It came right through my glove and hit me right in the chest guard. If I hadn’t had the chest guard on, I probably would have had a broken sternum. As it was, the impact of the ball again threw me back on my rear. The ball rolled down the chest guard and onto the ground. After two. More of those pitches, my father decided that it was time for me to head back out to right field. I quickly agreed with him.
The next piece of armor is the breastplate, or the chest guard. But this isn’t just any breastplate, this is the breastplate of righteousness. Just like that little league chest guard that I wore, this breastplate covers you from your neck to your thighs. As I think back to those days of little league and that equipment, I think what all that chest guard covered. It covered my heart and all my internal organs. However, my heart was the most important organ in my body. If my heart stopped, or got damaged, I’m doomed. Think about that spiritually.
Our heart is focused on the Lord and His righteousness, and that focus has to be protected. When we’re saved, God gives us the righteousness of Christ, or to say it another way God counts us righteous. However, it’s not enough to stand in the righteousness of Christ. As Christian soldiers we must protect our heart. We do this by living righteously. Righteousness keeps the heart from ever being wounded and losing its focus. We are to strive after the righteousness of Jesus. We are to live righteously in this present world.
The way we do that is by protecting our heart with the breastplate of righteousness. Just like the last piece, we have to be in the Word, in Fellowship with Him through prayer, and having fellowship with other believes who will hold us accountable, worship with us, cry with us, celebrate with us, and sharpen us. Guarding against the fastballs of life aren’t easy. They’re will be times when you’ll get knocked on your rear. However, the Father will be there to pick you up, dust you off, and help you readjust so you can get back in the game. Should a fastball get through, it’ll hit the breastplate and roll right off of you. That’s what is so great about the Lord’s armor. It will never fail.
Until Next Time,