“Mommy, I can’t get my shirt on!”
“Mommy, I can’t do this by myself!”
“Mommy, my arm is stuck!”
“Mommy, help! My head is caught in the zipper!”
“Mommy? Mommy? Why did you go back to bed?”

Getting three small children dressed in the morning is no small feat. If I let them do it all themselves, it would take hours, and they would probably have to start getting dressed the night before. There are too many potential mishaps, including the “elephant” (getting the arm stuck in the sleeve over the head), the “potato sack” (putting two legs into one hole), and the “superhero” (putting underwear on the outside of the pants). I’ve survived missions to rescue heads trapped in sleeves, hair stuck on Velcro, and skin caught in zippers. I keep laboring in love, knowing that one day, hopefully before college, they will all get dressed on their own.

I try to give our kids some responsibility for getting dressed, but there are always buttons to snap and zippers to pry. I imagine that animals hibernate and birds fly south for the winter simply to avoid winter apparel. After hours of struggling to dress my children in boots, snow pants, bulky coats, scarves, hats, and mittens, I say, “Forget it. We’ll go outside when spring comes.” When it comes to God, however, He has infinite patience with His children. He wants us all to “get dressed” successfully, and He is always there to help.

When we confess Jesus as Lord, we clothe ourselves with the “dress for success” attire that God provides. Since everyone stands “naked” before Him [1], He probably says, “Whoa, there, let’s put some clothes on!”

Galatians 3:26 and 27
(26) You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus,
(27) for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.

If only our spiritual clothes were as obvious as our physical ones. When God said, “Be holy, because I am holy [2],” I don’t think He meant for us to walk around with more holes in our jeans than a golf course. Our clothes should give God the glory, but we should never forget the complete outfit–inside and out. We want people to see the Christ in us and say, “What a beautiful outfit! Where can I get it?”

When our daughter Grace wanted to touch silk, I showed her some dresses shoved way in the back of my closet. “These are so beautiful, Mommy,” she said, running her tiny hands over the smooth material. “Why don’t you ever wear them?” An image popped into my mind of our two year old son covered from head to toe in pasty oatmeal and running towards me with arms outstretched for a hug. “I only wear them on special occasions,” I responded. “That’s too bad,” she said wistfully. I made a mental note never to leave my “new self” in a garment bag shoved in the back of the closet.

2 Corinthians 5:17
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!

Every morning, we open our spiritual closets and make decisions that will affect us for the rest of the day. With children, it is always wise to lay out their clothes the night before. I try to give our kids some freedom, but I match the outfits and limit the choices. A lack of experience results in mixing polka dots with plaids. Just think about the ugly “outfits” we don when we avoid God’s choices. Talk about a fashion nightmare! When we return to our ugly sin nature, it is the equivalent of a hideous fashion trend making a comeback. The heavenly realms must groan when we bring back the retro look they hoped we had set aside. As our Father, God has to lay our clothes out for us as well:

Colossians 3:12
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

1 Peter 5:5b
All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

Romans 13:13 and 14
(13) Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy
(14) Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.

Imagine God presenting each of us with hangers in the morning, giving us the best options to wear that day. He has already chosen our “clothes” for us to have a victorious day, but we need to put them on. If we need help, He is ready and willing to assist. Think of Him as your personal stylist. (“No, honey, that “Bitterness” doesn’t look good on you. Try this…it’s from the new spring line called “Thankfulness.” Now, if you want to play up your eyes a bit, try this shade of joy called “Radiance.”) Sometimes we don’t even realize that we need help. We saunter down the runway of life like a confident kid emerging from his room with mismatched socks and clothes that clash worse than a living room from the 1970s.

Children always think they know what they need to wear. Sometimes I let our kids make their foolish choices, just so they can learn from experience. Like the time they thought it would be a good idea to play with socks on in the wet grass. They all came slinking back inside tracking muddy puddles on the carpet and crying, “Mommy! Our socks are wet!” (Hmmm. You think?) God gave us all free will, and sometimes He must cringe at our choices.

Maybe it takes a while for kids to peel off never-ending layers of clothes like an obstinate onion, but they can do it. Choosing the right clothes and putting them on is the challenge, and it takes years of practice to be successful. Anyone who has ever tried to teach a child to put on his own socks can understand the value of unlimited patience.

MOTHER: You have to roll up the sock first, like this.
CHILD: Like this?
MOTHER: No, don’t just put it over one toe. Watch Mommy.
CHILD: (frustrated) I can’t do it!
MOTHER: Don’t give up!
CHILD: Ugh! (Sock sails like a slingshot across the room. Dog whimpers.)
MOTHER: Good effort, but try not to hit the dog next time. Okay, let’s just go barefoot today.

How amazing that God never gives up on us. What an inspiration to parents everywhere! He has a plan and purpose for each of us, and He encourages us every step of the way. When we make smart decisions, God must feel like I did the first time Grace got dressed all by herself. I was so proud of her that she had reached a new maturity level. And I was relieved that I could finally say, “Clothe yourselves…” and have someone be able to do it.

In Ephesians 6, God gives us thorough and specific dressing instructions, because He knows that when it comes to the raging spiritual battle, it is imperative that we select the proper wardrobe.

Ephesians 6:11-13
(11) Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.
(12) For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
(13) Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.

God instructs us to dress in the full armor that He has laid out for us, for He knows that the only way to truly protect ourselves is with the Word of God and prayer. Even though dressing in armor requires more patience and effort, God knows that this is the best wardrobe to keep us stainless and protected. How much easier my job would be as a parent if I dressed my children in armor! No more grass stains! No more holes in socks! No more fear of spaghetti sauce or chocolate ice cream or raspberry jam! And best of all, no more mixing polka dots and plaids. What a wise Father we have.

Endnotes

[1] Hebrews 4:13(KJV)
Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.
[2] 1 Peter 1:15 and 16
(15) But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do;
(16) for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”

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