A Bee Inside My Mask…

“Shoes keep us from dashing our toes on rocks. Sunscreen reduces damage to skin. Hats, bandannas and eyewear protect our heads and faces from scorch, wind and ice. Long sleeves and pants deter scrapes and scratches from brush and branches. Gloves preserve fingers and hands for another day in the service of God and family. A wise person employs these all for the preservation and protection of our bodies in life’s labors. In the the trials and temptations of this same life, should we not also employ the ‘whole armour of God’ (Ephesians 6:11) for the preservation and protection of our eternal souls?”

Daniel Joseph Malcolm, 7 October 2023

Growing up on a small farm in Tivy Valley we had several beehives to pollinate our almond orchard, and provide sweet honey for our family. I was a member of 4-H and one of my projects gave me the opportunity to work with our bees. My brothers and sisters and I, along with our parents, would suit up at various times to care for the bees.

It was so important to put the bee suit on just right in order to avoid the venomous sting of our industrious flying friends. Everything needed to be tucked in from head to toe, and to the tips of my fingers, so as to have not a single breach in the barrier between me and the bees. We had to make sure our netted masks were tucked in just right not to experience painful honeybee poison, the scariest of results for someone that was afraid to be stung. The truth is that I felt fascination and safety working with the bees flying all around and crawling on me, until one day.

Secure in my feeling that I had tucked everything in properly, I noticed I could see the top of a bee crawling on the screen of my mask. I quickly realized that meant there was bee inside my mask, and I was vulnerable to being stung on my face. I had to be very calm as I carefully brushed every bee off of me and moved away from the hives so that I could rip that mask off of my head and run further away hysterically. I was 11 years old, who could blame me? Although on other occasions I did get stung, on that day both the bee and I survived. I do not know what lessons that bee came away with, but going forward I was a lot more careful to make sure my protective netting was completely secure with no holes nor gaps.

In Greek mythology the story is told of a great and near undefeatable warrior named Achilles. His legend is that when he was a small child his mother bathed him in the River Styx. This bathing served as the placing of an impenetrable armor that no sword nor arrow could pierce. Unfortunately, in the process of his mother’s effort she missed a small spot on the heel of his foot. Nevertheless Achilles grew to become a mighty champion and conqueror of kingdoms. He fought battle after battle and no one could harm him. He seemed to be literally undefeatable, until one day, a lone arrow, dipped in poison, found its way to that tiny spot on the heel of his foot that was unprotected. He was struck and he fell dead of his wound.

“Thetis Dipping the Infant Achilles into the River Styx” by Peter Paul Rubens, circa 1625.

In his letter to the Ephesians the Apostle Paul called upon the saints to take upon them the whole armor of God that they be protected from evil. We read, “…be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints” (Ephesians 6:10-18).

If we take upon ourselves the whole armor of God we will be shielded from painful stingers and poisonous arrows that would take down great champions who rely on their own strengths instead of faithfully relying on God. Taking upon ourselves the whole armor of God is a protecting and perfecting that comes through Christ and His atoning sacrifice. There is no protection more powerful, and no other means by which we can become perfect.

In like fashion Jesus Christ has restored His kingdom on earth in perfect order to withstand the fiery darts of the adversary, providing for protection and perfecting of the saints. “Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone” (Ephesians 2:19-20).

The organization of God’s kingdom on earth, led by prophets and apostles, with Jesus Christ at its head, is like unto the armor of God protecting us from every wind of doctrine that might cause us to stray from the iron rod that is the word of God. For this very purpose, “…He gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:11-13).

When I was younger, with less regard for the damage that can be done by the sun or other elements, I rarely wore a hat or long sleeves to protect my face and arms, but when working with my hands, I learned young to wear gloves. I can name many occasions when the leather gloves on my hands have protected my palms and fingers from great harm and pain in the labors of life. Now, 60 years old, and regularly visiting my dermatologist, I not only wear my sturdy leather gloves, but long sleeves, sunglasses, and a wide-brimmed hat completes my armor when I am out in the sun working. Like the bee suit of my youth, I have increased my protective armor, a whole armor for my physical protection. Even though there has been some damage over the years, I am repenting and doing what I can to protect my future, and to avoid further harm.

In like fashion, the poisonous darts of the adversary have done their share of damage to me when I have not as well as I should have worn the armor that God provided for my spiritual protection. With lessons, learned and repentance employed, we can outfit ourselves anew in the whole armor of God, and be safe from stings, darts, and arrows, for always, in the atonement of Jesus Christ.

Christ’s atonement and kingdom on earth is the armor of God. This is how we are protected and how we may become perfected as we follow the Savior, taking upon ourselves His name and embracing His atonement by living His word revealed in the scriptures and by the mouths of His servants. With the whole armor of God employed, there is no cause for running hysterically. If we will but listen and follow, we will have the protection, the salvation we desire. Let us be earnest, active and wise in applying God’s armor so freely given. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

“I extend heartfelt prayers of faith and hope to the innocent caught in war and unrest across the globe. While I yearn for love and peace to prevail in all conflict, my heart is specifically drawn to the Holy Land of Israel in the wake of Hamas terror and retaliatory attacks beginning Saturday. Monica and I visited Israel in 2018. We were moved by the beauty and history of the land, as well as the kindness and welcoming hospitality of the many Jewish and Palestinian people we met. These were lovely children of our Heavenly Father and I pray for their peace, safety and preservation tonight and in the coming days. My daughter Hanieh is near Jerusalem now on an educational semester. She and her fellow students are safe and sheltering for their well being. It is my most sincere prayer that love will prevail and the lives of my daughter, her fellow students, faculty, and all the peace cherishing peoples of Israel, Palestine and the surrounding region will be preserved. May the children of God everywhere thrive in kind living and charity. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.”

Hanieh watches General Conference live on her laptop from the BYU Jerusalem Center, with a view of the Old City Wall, the Temple Mount and the Dome of the Rock over her shoulder.
Daniel Joseph Malcolm, 8 October 2023

Daniel Malcolm is an entrepreneur, journalist, photographer, husband to Monica and father of twelve. He is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and is a witness of the gospel of Jesus Christ and His Atonement.