Don’t Go Out Without Your Headgear
A devotional by Chaplain Paul Anderson
“But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:8 (NKJV)
A few months ago, I went over to my son’s house to watch his girls ride their bicycles. They had become confident enough to ride without training wheels and they wanted me to see them. He told me to bring my bicycle, so I did.
When I arrived, I saw the girls suited up with their helmets, gloves, elbow pads, and knee pads. They confidently rode around in circles near their driveway. I pulled my bike down and rode in circles with them. Eventually, they tired and wanted to go inside. At that point, my son said, “Okay Dad, let’s go!” and off he went on his bicycle. I mounted mine and followed him.
We rode through his neighborhood. He was enjoying the ride. He was riding with the carefree abandon that I remembered when he was much younger. I could not keep up. He turned down a walking path that weaved through some forestry behind some of the homes. Suddenly, we are going down a steep hill. At the bottom of the hill was a puddle. He blazed right through it on his mountain bike. I was on a road bike with very narrow tires. I hit the puddle and the bike slid one way then the other. I was ejected at 17 miles per hour.
As I soared through the air, I became keenly aware that I had not put on any protective pads, gloves or my helmet. I hit the ground and tumbled, head over heels. On the second tumble, my head contacted the asphalt. Thankfully, the ground was wet. The momentum caused me to slide rather than slam into the concrete. When I stopped tumbling and spinning, I laid upon the ground, trying to assess the damage. Thankfully, the only damage was road rash on my head and knee, a throbbing wrist, a broken mirror on the bicycle, and my wounded ego.
There were people around and I was embarrassed. Someone said, “That is why you should be wearing a helmet.” By the time my son turned around and arrived, I was on my feet and very mindful of the miracle that I had just experienced.
As we slowly rode the last mile back to his house, I thought of two verses of Scripture.
1 Thessalonians 5:8 (NKJV) felt appropriate: “But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation.” The second verse was Psalm 8:5 (NKJV): “For You have made him a little lower than the angels, And You have crowned him with glory and honor.”
Bicyclists wear helmets. Soldiers wear helmets. Construction workers wear helmets. They all wear these to protect their heads from potential injury. Brain injuries are serious. They can be followed by a lifetime of negative repercussions. The same is true of soul/moral injuries.
They both occur in the head.
Just as a helmet protects the head and the brain, the hope of salvation protects the crown of glory and honor that God placed within us at creation and conception. It is because of the glory and honor that we have dominion in our spheres of activity and influence. If the glory and honor are injured because they were not protected, or enfeebled due to lack of nurture, our dominion is diminished. The dulled glow is apparent to all.
It turned out that my wrist was broken. The wound on my head began to heal and eventually scabbed over. Some people would ask me what happened. Most could see that I was not wearing a helmet when I fell.
May I encourage you not to go out on today’s expeditions, without your spiritual helmet?
Before you plunge into your day, focus intentionally on something noble. Read something that is true. Visualize justice! Load your emotional quiver with integrity, grace, and the determination to do the right and best things, all day. Say a prayer in Jesus Christ’s Name, then saunter off into the day to either be a blessing to someone or to embrace the blessings yet to unfold before you.
When you live in this way, your crown of glory and honor will shine and not be diminished.
Don’t go out without your headgear.
Chaplain Anderson served for 20 years as a U.S. Navy Chaplain. Over 26 years of active duty, he was promoted through the ranks from Seaman Apprentice (E2) to his final rank as Commander (O5) in the Chaplain’s Corps.
Prior to his Naval career, Chaplain Anderson pastored in the Allegheny East and Potomac Conferences of Seventh-day Adventists. His undergraduate preparation for ministry was completed at Washington Adventist University in Takoma Park, Md.
He has subsequently earned four graduate degrees: a Master of Divinity from Andrews University in Michigan, a Master of Education in Counseling and Personnel Services from the University of Maryland in College Park, Maryland and a Masters of Sacred Theology in Religion and Culture from Boston University. His Doctor of Ministry degree was conferred by Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C.
Chaplain Anderson also completed four units of Clinical Pastoral Education at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. He also holds certifications in Suicide Awareness and Prevention, Civil Mediation, Alternative Workplace Dispute Resolution, Temperament Analysis, Marriage Enrichment, Workforce Diversity, and is a certified Life Coach.