We’re halfway into our armor and I’m enjoying getting ready with you. We fastened the belt of truth around our waists, resisting the lies Satan throws our way and choosing to put truth first in our minds. Next, we put on the breastplate of righteousness, soaking in God’s word to quiet our anxious hearts and protect us with peace. We tied on our shoes, fit with readiness to announce the good news. And now, it’s time to take up our shield.
Ephesians 6:16: “In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one.”
Shield of faith. The next piece of armor that’s going to protect us from this war we’re standing in.
There are a couple things I find interesting about the shield. First, it’s not something that we’re wearing. We’re wearing the belt, breastplate, and shoes. But the shield is something that we take up and then hold throughout the entire battle. The other three pieces of armor are strapped to us and can’t be removed easily. But the shield is different. The shield we could lower or drop, or just not pick up at all because it’s too heavy. Instead, Paul tells us to take it up and hold on to it because we can use it to extinguish the enemy’s darts. Our faith does that.
Second, I think it’s interesting where Paul places the shield in the armor lineup. It’s number four out of six. If we look ahead, we still need to put on a helmet and fasten our sword. So why is it that we’re picking up a shield before we protect our head? Or before we strap on our weapon of defense?
I really like how this online Bible Study Guide explains the shield’s importance in the lineup: “A shield is the first line of defense. While the rest of our armor helps protect us from Satan's onslaught, it is not what you ideally want to be using to absorb every hit. You do not, for instance, go out into battle intentionally blocking everything with your head.
“When our faith in God's omnipotence and care is strong, it is impossible for Satan to break through our shield and land an attack...The rest of our armor will be battered, and so will we. But an actively raised shield of faith prevents this otherwise inhibiting fatigue.”
I can’t lie, this post has been more difficult to write than I thought it would be. Faith is hard. Saying you have faith is one thing, but living out that faith is another, and I’ve found myself struggling with that recently. So let me pause right now to just say that if you’re struggling to have faith; if everything in your world feels disheveled and you can’t make sense of the pieces around you, you’re not alone. I hear you and I see you and I’m right there with you. I’m choosing to believe this week that God is faithful to me and will not stop holding me in my days of doubt. And I believe that for you, too.
I wish faith was something I could verbally say I have once and then that one verbal acknowledgment would be enough faith for the rest of my life. But it’s not. Faith is a daily choice. Just like love and trust and happiness. We have to choose everyday to have faith in God – in His timing, in His goodness, in His faithfulness, in His justice. When we made the choice to follow Him, we chose to have faith, and that’s a decision we’ll live out for the rest of our lives.
The enemy is coming, and he’s coming fast. He wants me to doubt. He wants me to lose trust, to grow tired of waiting, to choose fun over holy, easy over hard. He wants me to see my disheveled life and run from the mess instead of leaning in to clean it up. And he’s going to keep shooting darts into my life to distract me from my purpose. (Matthew 13:19)
He wants me to drop my shield and lose my faith. But I can’t let him. I have to pick up my shield. I have to realize that the faith I have is not too heavy for me to carry, and I need to stand firm in the knowledge that my God is faithfully standing around me in my doubt, in my fear, in my wondering. And if He is faithful to me, I can be faithful to go another day with Him.