Last weekend a friend and former colleague was in a serious motorcycle accident. He was out for a ride with his motorcycle group, sailing along in the sunshine, when he took a sudden turn into a patch of gravel. The bike slid, and he went down. Result: five broken ribs, two fractured ribs, and a broken shoulder blade. Following motorcycle accident protocol, the EMTs had him airlifted to the nearest Class 1 trauma center.
He’s in the hospital now and in a lot of pain, but he is alive. He had no head injuries or broken limbs, thanks to a wide assortment of protective clothing and equipment. His completely demolished helmet now hangs on the wall of the motorcycle shop to demonstrate its effectiveness in protecting him. The engine guards, metal bars designed to keep a rolled-over bike from crushing the rider’s legs, did their job too. (You can see them behind the front wheel, with their black plastic covers.) And his layers of protective clothing kept his skin from being scraped and torn to shreds.
Recounting the accident and its aftermath, he told me the paramedics, the helicopter pilots, and the ER staff all made the same comment: “He was geared up right.” He had used and worn every possible protection, just in case the unthinkable happened. Medical personnel see so many accident victims who were careless in their preparations, and they see the heartbreaking results of those riders’ mishaps.
Of course this brought to mind the spiritual armor God has given us as described in Ephesians 6:13-17: the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, feet shod with the good news of the Gospel, and the helmet of salvation, to protect us against attacks of the enemy. But I think being geared up right involves more than that. When I go out to “do my day,” what kinds of attitudes am I wearing? Am I looking for opportunities to bless others, or making decisions based on what’s in it for me? Am I ready to share God’s love and grace, or to judge and criticize? Am I being a light in the darkness, or a carrier of doom and discouragement?
In Colossians 3:12 and 14 we are told, “You must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience… Above all, clothe yourselves with love…” If I take a sudden turn into a patch of gravel, my response will quickly show what kind of gear I have chosen to put on. Although I may encounter some painful situations, walking in godly attitudes will protect me and keep me from doing and saying things that could make matters even worse. And whatever happens, I’m sure to recover much more quickly if I have gone into the situation geared up right.