Sunday, December 06, 2009

how to be like darth vader

editor's note: the story of our writer's self-ascribed "craziest day of 2009" is scheduled to be posted tomorrow, monday, dec. 7. that is, if he gets his act together.

today was my last time teaching the doctrine and covenants this year and it was a great way to end.
the lesson in the manual is entitled "put upon you the whole armor of God" (or something like that). reading over it last sunday, i started thinking about darth vader. i wrote to my mom and asked her to send out my 12" darth vader doll that i got for Christmas many years ago. if i couldn't get it in time, i had a little 4' action figure on my desk, but this 12" one is very cool: essentially a ken doll with a sweet mask for a head, all of his armor is removable, a good visual for the contrast being in and out of the armor.
vader arrived friday. thanks, mom. : )

because of numerous mix-ups before class, i had less than 30 minutes to teach my lesson that had almost twice as many notes as usual. thankfully, when you write "how to be like darth vader" on a sunday school white board, it grabs people's attention pretty well.
pretty much everyone in class had seen "return of the jedi" (except for a small group of girls), and i talked about how cool darth vader is. when he's fully suited up, he's just about the toughest guy in the galaxy. from head to toe, he is armored completely. and for good reason, too: outside of his armor, he doesn't stand a chance; he will die pretty quickly. at the end of "jedi", when luke takes off his mask, he's a weak and crippled man.

so are we. it's a very rough world out there. we read from D&C 76:25-28 and Moses 4:4 about the fall of lucifer. darth vader is my favorite movie villain and a pretty mean guy, but satan is much, much meaner. and he's out there with his fiery darts to take us down (1Ne 15:24). he's got millions of them and he's watching us for any opening in our armor.

at this point, my friend in the back raised his hand and asked, "but doesn't his power come from the dark side of the force?"
yes, yes it does. we're going to ignore that part for the analogy. parables are such that you cannot get too detailed with them, but need to look at the facets of the story that are used to teach, and i fully intended to adopt that license here.

D&C 27:15-18 the whole armor of God. most video game boxes and fantasy art show male and female warriors wearing not very much. sometimes the guy is in mostly full armor, but usually the girl is wearing little more than a steel swimsuit. that may sell games, but i would never want to be dressed like that in battle.
so, too, do we need to wear the whole armor of God:
  • loins girt about with truth
  • breastplate of righteousness
  • feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace
  • shield of faith (in darth's case, it was the "cape of faith")
  • helmet of salvation
  • sword (lightsabre) of God's Spirit and His word through revelation
"you are unwise to lower your defenses!"
so says vader during his final battle with luke. and he's right. satan is watching us for any weakness, any moment that we take off a glove or a boot. darth vader has no part of him exposed.

in my centennial ward many years ago, our hometeaching supervisor asked us to ask our hometeachees five questions when we visited them, and i've done it ever since. i think these are an excellent checklist for us to see if we are wearing the armor:
  • are you reading your scriptures every day?
  • are you saying your prayers, morning and evening?
  • are you attending all three of your church meetings?
  • do you do your home/visiting teaching?
  • do you attend the temple as often as you should (being a personal question, we don't ask them to answer)
these won't directly solve all of the problems in our life, but they will help us stay strong, able to defend and avoid the fiery darts and fight the good fights in our life.
and i heard john bytheway reference elder maxwell in two ways that we can gauge where we are, to test the strength of our armor, and i think these are good questions:
  • what do you think about during the sacrament?
  • how do you keep the sabbath?
the rest of the lesson was about three ways that satan attacks us, hoping to find gaps in our armor: chastity, honesty, and language.
i won't recite everything here, and we had to skip over a lot of it (honesty was touched on for about one sentence), but we had great comments and a meaningful lesson.

the next time i teach, it'll be the old testament. : D


Jaime said...

i referenced the armor of god bit in my lesson today. I was quoting from elder asay's talk about the temple garment.(shoot, the quote is upstairs and i'm too lazy to go get it but to paraphrase...)he talks about the armor of god and then says there's another armor we need, called the temple garment. (pretty much i'm not doing a very good job at explaining this, but you should read the talk. the opening paragraph blew me away.)

way to teach your lesson with an action figure.

thank you for your online testimony. you never cease to amaze me.

Alyssa Rock said...

Usually during the sacrament, I'm thinking/saying: "No, it's not time for nursery yet, Ethan. Sit down, Ethan. Stop yelling, Ethan..." Kids can sometimes be such a spiritual buzz-kill. :P

Nice thoughts, though. It's always good to take stock of one's spiritual preparedness. For the record, Ethan would have probably been enamored with your lesson. Anything with Darth Vader is an instant win. :)