Those of you who are baseball fans may remember how the old American League umpires behind home plate used to wear large external chest protectors or shields.
I think we use the same giant “chest protector” to close our heart from others and from the influence of God. Especially for guys, I think we feel that we need to portray the image that we have it all together, we have no problems, we’re in control, and we’re providing safety and financial security for our family without any chinks in the armor. So, we put on our uniform and hold up that chest protector.
We can still communicate, do our jobs as husbands and dads, and still perform effectively as employees and employers. But we don’t let others see the real us behind the mask and protective gear. We don’t let anyone see those hidden areas of sin that we hide. We don’t let anyone see that the facing of our heart is actually not toward God, but toward things of this world; things like job titles, prestige, acceptance, cars, homes, the coolest vacations, and our kids’ achievements.
For what would other men think of us if they knew we struggled with habitual sin or secret addictions? What if they knew we didn’t have as much money in the bank as we pretended? What if they knew when we laid our head on our pillow at night that we feared where the money would come from or challenging thoughts about our wife or kids?
Perhaps you don’t relate to any of this, but I believe many men struggle with frustration, temptation, sin, idols, and the search for purpose in their life. We will not be in true relationship or community with someone if we do not let down our chest protector and let someone hear our thoughts and struggles, and connect with them in our vulnerability. For when we share our vulnerability, and especially share our victories over our problems and sin, victory that God provided, we help others and we also point them to Jesus.
Our friends then know they are not alone in their struggles and that there can be freedom and victory at the end of the trouble. It is then that we attract others and point them to the glory of God. They see how much we struggled when we tried to figure it out ourselves, and they know that the only way we could have overcome it was through God and His Holy Spirit. They see the new sense of peace and joy and would like to share in it.
When we engage in a relationship and prayer with God, we must also drop the chest protector and be open and honest with Him, pray for Him to help us in our struggles, and be honest about how we think and how we feel. We need to go ahead and admit that we know we don’t have it all together and we know that we are not in charge. This is a posture of submission. This is a posture of surrender. This is a posture of giving honor and glory to the One who created us. This is a posture God can work through to transform and change our lives, our minds, and our hearts!
So drop the chest protector. Let others, and God, see the position and the condition of your heart. As we drop the chest protector God will pick it up and replace it with peace: and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7 ESV).