During the summer, Tom and I visited Fort Ligonier twice. Both times we went, I spent some time with one particular exhibit in the museum. It is the coat and vest of a British ship captain who was shot in a battle. The bullet passed through his vest, through the back of the jacket, and through the sleeve of the jacket. Of course, the captain was wearing it at the time and was killed by the bullet trajectory. What amazes me is that the family received and kept the coat so that it was eventually donated to the museum. In the Fort Ligonier museum a clear rod illustrates the path of the bullet on the torso of a mannequin wearing the jacket and coat. I think about the man killed and the family that kept the jacket. The holes in the jacket became holes that killed the man. Tom looked at it and said “he should have worn armor.”
We all wear armor of various kinds. And we all have bullets of various sorts that hit us every day. We hope that our armor will repel the bullets. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. We learn to brush off insults. But we are wounded by hurtful words said by someone we respect or love. We grow strong in faith. But sometimes that faith is wounded by disasters. A spouse gives up on a marriage. A child dies. We are attacked in places we thought safe. The attacks can catch us by surprise – just like the ship’s captain who didn’t even have time to move his hand from behind his back.
Our armor protects us, but not always. There are times when we are wounded. Times when the bullets pierce us. Does that make us bad Christians? No. Weakness and woundedness are holes through which God’s light can shine. We don’t like people to think of us as weak or wounded. Nevertheless, we are. We are the walking wounded, but we are healed by God’s love. And when we let people see our holes, God’s light shines through them.
Our imperfections, our weakness, our woundedness, the holes in our armor. These things let people know we are real. We hurt, we bleed, we mourn. But, in Christ, we are healed, we glow, we rise. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10: But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.