“Your armadillo basket sold first,” I said as my husband added another item to our yard sale.
My gloating didn’t help my husband’s pained expression. He looked as if I’d sold a family pet.
I’m sure my husband would adopt a real armadillo, if possible. Fortunately, we don’t live in one of the states between New Mexico and Georgia where armadillos roam.
The armadillo carries a shell on its back made up of bony plates. In the 1800s, the naturalist, John James Audubon described an armadillo as a pig-like creature with a turtle shell on its back. The Aztecs called it a rabbit turtle. Twenty species of armadillos exist in South and Central America. The only species in the United States is the nine-banded armadillo. Based on appearances, the bony-plated animal scares off small predators. But the larger predators—coyote, bobcat, cougar, wolf, bear, raccoon, and even dogs—aren’t deterred by this dinosaur looking animal.
At mealtime, while its groveling through the dirt eating fourteen-thousand ants, the armadillo is unaware of any danger. If startled, the nine-banded armadillo will jump in the air between three and four feet to scare off a predator. When an armadillo does notice a predator, it may choose to freeze and hope the predator doesn’t see it.
Another way the armadillo defends itself is to run. If its burrow is nearby, the creature will claw its way inside, headfirst, so only the armored back is exposed. If a burrow isn’t handy, the animal will run from trouble.
Like the armadillo, we have a predator. The devil is on a mission to thwart our relationship with God. “Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.” I Peter 5:8 NLT
Satan isn’t working alone. He has a host of demons working alongside him. “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.” Ephesians 6:12 NIV
God warns us about Satan’s craftiness, but he hasn’t left us defenseless. He’s equipped the armadillo to defend itself against its foes and God’s equipped us with Biblical resources.
What to Learn from an Armadillo
- Wear Armor
- Be Still
Wear Armor: Like the armadillo’s bony plate, we must wear the essentials. God has instructed us to put on his full armor. “Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” Ephesians 6:13-17 NLT
Be Still: Like the armadillo standing still while it waits for the predator to leave, we must stand firm in our faith. Satan wants us to doubt, give up hope, and curse God for our troubles. If you’re tempted, stand firm in your faith. “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.” I Corinthians 16:13 NIV
The same verse in The Message, a paraphrase of the Bible written in contemporary language, says, “hold tight to your convictions … be resolute.” I Corinthians 16:13 MSG
Jump: Here’s one of the reasons people don’t understand Christians. We’re told to rejoice through trials and keep the future reward for our faithfulness in mind. Even through trials, we have a reason to be joyful. “Rejoice and be glad at such a time and exult and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is rich and great and strong and intense and abundant in heaven; for even so their forefathers treated the prophets.” Luke 6:23 AMPC
When the armadillo jumps, his goal is to startle.
Yep, let’s jump for joy and startle the enemy.
Burrow: Even though we have hope in the future with Christ and faith in his guidance, the daily life of a Christian isn’t guaranteed to be easy. This is the time to burrow in the comfort of Jesus and marinate out souls in his word. “He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection.” Psalm 91:4 NLV
Run: Hard to believe, but an armadillo can run up to thirty miles per hour. Are you beginning to like armadillos as much as my husband? We can run from the devil’s snares, and he’ll run from us too. “… Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” James 4:7 NKJV
The armadillo’s sense of smell is excellent, but their eyesight is poor. Grubbing around the woods, they often don’t see their predators. If a rattler strikes, the armadillo’s shell deflects the bite.
My son, pay attention to my words and be willing to learn;
Open your ears to my sayings.
Do not let them escape from your sight;
Keep them in the center of your heart.
For they are life to those who find them,
And healing and health to all their flesh.
Watch over your heart with all diligence,
For from it flow the springs of life.” Proverbs 4:20-23 AMP
Even an Armadillo is Vulnerable
Armadillos are migrating north in the United States with sightings from Kansas to the Carolinas. (Don’t tell my husband.) They’re crossing through gardens, yards, and roads in their travels. But the armadillo is vulnerable, not even that hard shell is strong enough to stand up against fast moving automobiles. Satan likes to hit us in our vulnerable spots. Surprise us. Lie to us. Oppress us. Distort the truth. Blind our hearts and minds. Deceive us until we don’t know what or who to believe. How do we protect ourselves from becoming Satan’s roadkill?
Keep yourself prayed up.
Rely on God’s word. “The Lord will keep you from all that is sinful. He will watch over your soul. The Lord will watch over your coming and going, now and forever.” Psalm 121: 7-8 NLV
Can you believe the armadillo swims? It swallows enough air to inflate its stomach and intestines, becoming buoyant, instead of weighed down by its armor. The creature can also hold its breath for six minutes and cross a stream. When circumstances make you feel defeated, bath yourself in God’s word. “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.” Isaiah 43:2 NIV
Little Armored One
The Spanish explorers named the armadillo, pequeño blindado—little armored one. Visualize yourself under God’s great, big hand of protection. Feel the strength as a little armored one of God while you journey through life. Always remember, “The Lord is faithful. He will give you strength and keep you safe from the devil.” 2 Thessalonians 3:3 NLV
What’s Your Destination?
I’m not sure the armadillo knows its final destination. As long as the weather is warm and the insects are plentiful, I think Mr. Armadillo will travel as far as his snoot will take him.
Do you know your final destination? Are you heaven bound? Who doesn’t want to live in eternity without life’s troubles? The choice is easy; it’s the journey that’s difficult. Remember the armadillo strategies for protection—wear armor, be still, jump, burrow, and run.
The armadillo basket moved from room to room in our house—me disapproving of the décor—until my husband shelved it in the garage where it grew dusty and brittle. The basket was a symbol of his fascination and admiration for one of God’s creatures. After twenty years, he gave it up and sold the basket in our yard sale.
I pray we will all be strong in the Lord, not dusty or brittle. I pray we will remember every day not to shelve our faith, but to put on our full armor to fight spiritual warfare with truth, righteousness, faith, salvation, and God’s word—the sword of the Spirit.
May God’s words in James 4: 7-10 from The Message buoy you up and strengthen you.
“So let God work his will in you. Yell a loud no to the Devil and watch him make himself scarce. Say a quiet yes to God and he’ll be there in no time. Quit dabbling in sin. Purify your inner life. Quit playing the field. Hit bottom, and cry your eyes out. The fun and games are over. Get serious, really serious. Get down on your knees before the Master; it’s the only way you’ll get on your feet.”
Do you have an armadillo story? I’d love to hear from you in the comments
Stay strong, my friend, God’s little armored one.
A former teacher turned writer, Terri B. Kelly, is the mother of two grown children and lives with her husband plus one sweet pug in the beautiful mountains of North Carolina. Visit her at www.terribkelly.com or on Facebook.