A movie I saw recently featured a scene where a man of great agility and daring ran a gantlet.
The scene depicted was set in medieval times, when chivalrous knights fought and jousted. Accepting a challenge to win the hand of a beautiful woman, the man made his way through an obstacle course of swinging objects. Some of these objects were so large and heavy that they could knock him to the ground. Successful, another course awaited him, involving lethal blades, axes, and the like. The contestant made his way skillfully through the blades. His timing had to be perfect, and if he'd been wrong-footed, he could have been killed or injured.
Although "running the gantlet" and "taking up the gauntlet" sound similar, the expressions come from different roots. In and of itself, a gauntlet is a long, stout glove covering the wrist, made to protect the hand.
There was a warrior - a spiritual warrior - St. Paul, who features prominently in the Holy Bible as an earnest follower of the teachings of Jesus Christ. He relied on and spoke of an armor of a different sort. He advised the church at Ephesus to "take ... the whole armour of God." He told them that it was then that they'd be able to stand firm when evil threatened to overwhelm them, "and having done all, to stand" (Ephesians 6:13). Paul also referred to "the shield of faith," to "the helmet of salvation," and to "the sword of the Spirit," all being symbolic of the protective power of God, of divine Love (verses 16, 17).
Spiritual armor is of a mental nature. It is the expression of spiritual qualities. When we express these qualities, they give us strength and courage to carry on, to be brave and dauntless, even when faced with threatening or frightening circumstances like disease or financial catastrophe. Spiritual qualities have their source in God, who is the only real power.
This armor is worn by keeping our thought close to God. By listening to what God is telling us. By refusing thoughts of fear. Turning to God in this way means that we are bringing the spiritual law of God - of Life, Truth, and Love - to bear on our experience. The power of this law results in safety, security, healing. In turning to God, praying, we are governed by Him and are invulnerable to harm. We are under His full protection.
Mary Baker Eddy, who founded the Christian Science Church, wrote: "At all times and under all circumstances, overcome evil with good. Know thyself, and God will supply the wisdom and the occasion for a victory over evil. Clad in the panoply of Love, human hatred cannot reach you" ("Science and Health With Key to the Scriptures," Pg. 571). A panoply is a full suit of armor that covers the body completely. There's no greater protection and defense that you can have than the understanding of God's ever-presence and the expression of His nature. His laws undergird your very existence. The panoply of spiritual understanding and expression, which makes you impervious to evil, heals physically and morally. It ends fear and doubt and gives a freedom that can be felt in no other way. With it, you reflect the dominion and authority of God, through thinking that is clear and actions that are sure.
Beside the marginal heading "Ancient and modern miracles," Science and Health says, "The divine Love, which made harmless the poisonous viper, which delivered men from the boiling oil, from the fiery furnace, from the jaws of the lion, can heal the sick in every age and triumph over sin and death" (Pg. 243). There is a tradition that St. John the Evangelist was put into a caldron of boiling oil, an attempt at killing him that apparently failed even to harm him. Mrs. Eddy appears to have been referring to this when she wrote further on, "The Apostle John testified to the divine basis of Christian Science, when dire inflictions failed to destroy his body" (Pg. 388).
Do you feel as though you are running the gantlet? Standing firm in the full armor of Truth and Love, you will be unintimidated, undisturbed - and healed.
You'll find other articles like this one in the Christian Science Sentinel, a weekly magazine.