I forgot to grab the new devotional for us to read in the car. Instead of forfeiting our devotion time, I decided we would make up our own. I asked the boys if one of them could give me an interesting science fact. Carter, my oldest, immediately shared that porcupines have muscles under their quills and it’s those hidden muscles that actually make the quills poke out and attack predators.
As I soaked in this new knowledge, I visualized their outside armor of quills. There was a major need for their muscles to be regularly strengthened so they could better protect themselves against their daily enemies.
We had the makings of a wonderful devotion.
Porcupines not only have muscles under their quills, but they have a specific muscle located under each quill. These muscles enable the quills to push up and out when needed in defensive situations.
Porcupine quills are made of keratin—the same, everyday stuff in our human fingernails. There’s nothing all that special about them, other than their sharp, pointed shape. Without their muscles pushing the quills outward, the quills would not have the resistance needed to attack and protect the porcupine’s body.
Christians need strong spiritual muscles under their armor as well.
Ephesians 6:13-17 (NIV) tells us, “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. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”
Our armor is the belt of truth, breastplate of righteousness, feet fitted with the gospel of peace, shield of faith, helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit. In order to utilize our weaponry, we have to be strong enough to wield these weapons. Porcupines need strong muscles. And so do Christians.
Growing Spiritual Muscles
Muscles grow stronger when they are routinely used. Daily use, regular rest, and strength training help our muscles grow.
- Bible Reading – daily bible reading, discussion of scripture with other believers; words studies, questions related to the text, and further historical and word studies
- Prayer – individual and corporate, with a prayer or accountability partner; deep, intimate, and specific requests for yourself and others; praise and thanksgiving; confession of sins
- “One-Anothering” – Being together with other believers and experiencing life together
- Making time for God and holding that appointment daily
- Being still and listening; waiting on God
- Focusing on and marinating in God’s Word
- Start conversations with people you do or don’t know and steer their attention toward Christ
- Allow God to discipline you through the fruits of the spirit (Galatians 5:22-26) and seek to practice using these fruits on a regular basis
- Learn to recognize the tactics of the enemy in the heat of the battle and practice standing firm on God’s truth instead of falling prey to the enemy’s ploys
There was a huge lesson we can learn from this simple fact about porcupines. We, as Christians, have to be ready for attacks from the enemy, just like the porcupine. God has given us spiritual muscles under our spiritual armor, and we need to do our very best to keep those muscles in good shape.
We need to read our bibles, pray, and spend time with other Christians. We also have to make time with God a priority and learn to be still in his presence. But even more than that, we have to practice flexing those muscles and use what we’re learning as situations arise. The more we are spending time with God, the better we will learn to hear his voice and know how to respond when the enemy tries to trip us up.
Just like the porcupine’s muscles push out and make the quills effective, our spiritual practice and preparation make us effective. The more we strengthen those muscles, the stronger we stand in the face of the enemy and his devious attacks.
As I wrapped up the lesson, I asked the boys what they thought about our devotion we made up on the fly. All my youngest wanted to talk about was how cool it would be if porcupines could actually shoot their quills. Then he proceeded to talk about Sonic the Hedgehog and made ZING and PEW noises while ducking imaginary quills. My oldest shrugged his shoulders and told me it was good.
Did either of the boys hear a word of what I shared? I may never know—but boy did I hear it loud and clear. Porcupine muscles are a concept I won’t soon forget.
How are your muscles doing?
(information about porcupines retrieved from: https://animals.sandiegozoo.org/animals/porcupine)
Copyright Christy Bass Adams, 2023; All pictures from Canva