Reverend Dr. William H. Curtis

An excerpt from “Dressed for Victory: Putting on the Armor of God”

In our modern world, we hear the term “live strong” all the time. We often associate it with being committed to an athletic or fitness accomplishment. Sometimes, our mind will make the jump to living strong for our family or our kids—taking this “I can do this” mentality into our work environment or our personal lives.  But, do we “live strong” all the time? Do we even know what that means? Certainly, one person’s definition of the term or phrase is different than another’s. In some worlds, living strong is being fit, eating right, rising up the corporate ladder, or getting your kids into the right school. In other worlds, living strong means just surviving—getting food on the table, avoiding illness, taking odd jobs to make some money, or getting back on track after a lifetime of mistakes or problems. All in all, we always have to be ready for when we are tested in any way and in any capacity. Life will show us many enemies, and we need to have the fortitude to stand up to them.

How do we live strong in our daily lives? Do we get up and go in for a morning workout everyday? Do we provide examples for our children daily by showing how to give back to the community in our actions and words? Do we pray daily? Do we make sure that the elderly in our lives eat right and are visited regularly by loved ones? Do we reach out to those who might be lonely or sick? Do we test ourselves in our faith and our disciplines in belief systems and values daily?

I’m guessing that, even if you all answered “yes” to working out, taking care of loved ones, and giving back to the community, you did not answer that way to the last one—testing yourself in faith and values daily. Not many of us do this, yet this is how we make ourselves vulnerable to attack and to weakness.

How exactly are we supposed to test ourselves in this way? I think that answer would be different for each of us. I do know this, however: establishing ourselves solidly in values, beliefs, and disciplines is the first step in any faith journey. We must know what we want to accomplish, generally in life, and we must understand our own strengths and weaknesses. If we have a tendency to spend too much money, we need to apply more discipline to that area in our lives. If we are good at school, we need to tap into that ability and make it work for us and our future goals. Above all of this, we need to understand that we are not invincible and that we are the products of our family, friends, community, and environment. We need to give thanks when appropriate, and we need to re-evaluate and change when appropriate.

It isn’t always easy to scrutinize ourselves and our lives objectively. In order to even approach doing this, we need to remain humble and without erroneous ego. We need to think of others and treat them as we would want to be treated ourselves. And, we need to trust in God’s plan for us and show Him daily how we can live up to His expectations for us. Is this always easy? No. In fact, it can be very trying to constantly think of how God would want us to act. When we are faced with challenges, work, difficult people, and dishonesty, it is easy to fall back on complaining or developing bad attitudes. When we are blind-sided by illness or financial trouble, it is easy to blame God or to forsake Him. In these trying times, we need to look inside and find that inner strength that we all have. We need to question why we want to reach certain goals, and we need to remember how we got to where we are in life in the first place. Sometimes, it is the love of family—pies from grandma, a warm home provided by parents, and love from lifetime friends. Other times, it is hardship—absent parents, siblings in trouble with the law, or the uncertainty of a financially distraught family life. Either way, it shapes us, and our experiences can help shape our responses in life. Using the fortitude born of a difficult life can help us achieve success as can the calm approach of someone who has lived a comfortable life. At the core of our journey to success and offsetting the enemy is our sense of self and our sense of God. We need to tap into both.