Where is your shield?
“In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.” ~ Ephesians 6:16
A number of years ago when I was in a very dark place, being knocked around by life and deep depression, God dropped a little book in my lap. It was short enough to read in a couple hours and described what I was experiencing perfectly. I agreed when the author suggested that I had dropped my shield of faith, but I was in such a deep place of despair that I didn’t know what to do about it. It wasn’t that I didn’t believe in God, or even doubted that he could help me, but I couldn’t hold onto hope. I wasn’t holding my shield as a shield is meant to be held. My arm was limp at my side.
I literally looked at my arm when I read that passage because the sensation of missing my shield of faith was so strong. I got excited to read what was coming next. Surely I would receive instruction, maybe some steps to take or verses to read. All the author wrote was one sentence.
“If you have dropped your shield of faith, pick it up.”
I was shocked! I had been saved my whole life, I even had a close personal relationship with God and talked to him all the time. Could the answer to the torment I was living in be that simple? I felt strength filling me as I listened to the words I had just read. I was energized, given life again. In the face of everything, I needed to pick up what I had dropped. This wasn’t what I had expected. Depression is a serious thing that is not just a matter of changing your attitude, but there was something about this situation that had its answer in simplicity.
God is a mystery, and we seldom know why he does what he does when he does it, but that little book was his Word to me. A tiny act of faith was the seed that grew into the strength that helped me walk through the rest of that ordeal.
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” ~ Hebrews 11:1
I have always loved that verse. Faith is substance and evidence. The substance of faith is a mystery, but I loved that I could hope to someday understand it. I could see the evidence lay before me; I could plant and nurture the little seed that I had, and I would continue to receive understanding of that substance more and more as my seed grew. I came to recognize that the substance is knowing God; and the evidence is to be seen in me, because I know God.
There’s a reason Jesus used the mustard seed as a picture of faith. It is tiny, but powerful. Its taste is strong and pungent, requiring very little to saturate a dish. When planted, it grows like a weed, taking over and crowding out the plants around it, becoming a bush as big as a tree. It even brings health and life. Mustard seeds break up congestion in the body, helping air to flow freely. When the oil from the seeds is rubbed into muscles, they relax and knots become pliable and more easily worked out.
Isn’t that what faith does in our lives? It starts out minuscule. In that instant when I understood that I needed to pick up my dropped shield, that tiny realization became a powerful defense against the fiery darts the enemy had been bombarding me with. I didn’t have much to begin with, but I could taste victory and it began to permeate my mind and spirit. It continued to grow within me, crowding out the ungodly beliefs about myself, my life and God himself. Over the years, the seed grew into a giant, overshadowing tree that blocked those thoughts from taking root.
My spirit had become congested, unable to freely breathe in the life-giving breath of the Spirit of God. As I took in and covered myself with this faith, that congestion broke off and with it the tightness in my chest. My ability to move freely, to dance in his presence, was made possible by the anointing oil from the seeds of faith.
Now, I realize that no one act or inspired revelation is the answer for every situation or every person, but for me, at that time and in that place, it was exactly what I needed. It has become part of my arsenal in the difficulties of life. It is now mine. It’s a part of me. I felt the reality of mustard see faith growing into a strong and permeating truth. Weaker things have been crowded out. I very seldom find my arm hanging low any more. I do not have to constantly remind myself to have faith. It has grown as I have grown in knowing God as my friend, father, savior, and beloved. The relationship causes the growth. It is the substance and the evidence of life.
This is the beautiful thing; God means for each of us to have a living, breathing relationship with him. Whatever your situation in life, he is the answer. Whether you’ve been saved for sixty years or not at all, he wants to give you more of himself. Ask him for it.
“For the one who asks always receives; the one who searches always finds; the one who knocks will always have the door opened to him.” ~ Luke 11:10