"In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication." Ephesians 6:16-18
All circumstances. All times. All prayer and supplication. See a trend?
Though the context is that we are fighting against Satan and the spiritual warfare that he instigates, Paul doesn't say in this passage that we are only supposed to put up our shield of faith when we feel Satan coming. Rather, he says at all times we must be ready to battle.
This is one of the reasons he uses the soldier imagery in Ephesians 6... because, as he says in Ephesians 5:16, the days are evil. Not only are we waring against Satan, but against our own flesh and against the world. There is no moment where there isn't a war being waged... but do you live like that? I don't.
Heather and I had just come back from an awesome dinner for Valentine's Day, and then we decided to watch the movie Happy Feet. As we watched, I decided to take a look at who voiced all the of the "cute" penguins. I was surprised to see such a star-studded cast. As I scrolled through the list of Hugh Jackman, Nicole Kidman, Elijah Wood, and Robin Williams, another name stood out very clearly to me. One of the main leads was Brittany Murphy, who died in her early 30's about 3 years ago.
Suddenly, the movie became an afterthought, my date with Heather in the background, and all I could think about was this: "I'm almost 27... I'm going to be in my 30's soon. What if I die early? What if I don't get to have children? What if we have children and I don't get to see them grow up?" The questions began to spiral out of control, to the point of which I began to struggle with my faith. I stayed up later that night, trying to escape the pain of knowing I would die through day dreaming and restlessly looking up sports stats, trying to forget the idea that I could die "early."
But what started this whole mess? The fear of death? I mean... it's not like I just made the connection that I'm going to die one day.
What started it? I wasn't taking up my shield of faith. I made peace with the world... and that's when my flesh and Satan attacked. I started asking myself, "Man, what if I'm not alive for the Avengers 2?"
If I were truly at battle, I would have said: WHO CARES, I'VE GOT MY TRUE AVENGER IN HEAVEN, AND HE'S MUCH BETTER THEN ROBERT DOWNEY JR. AS IRON MAN
Ok... so it seems pretty silly to have a major spiritual battle in terms of fighting the idea of whether or not I'll see a movie in two years. But what's the root issue of this? Honestly, I think it's ultimately rooted in unbelief. I'm not believing that God's got His best for my life. I don't trust that when it's my time to die, that He is bringing me home. I don't put my faith in Him, I don't see Him as true, I don't trust in His salvation, and I don't want to fight with His Word.
When do you see this happen in your life?
Maybe it's when finances are tight, and a big expense comes from where you least expect it? Or maybe, someone unexpectedly dies or has a major health scare? Maybe it's when you sit down for some time alone, and suddenly someone interrupts it (kids, spouse, parents, an unexpected phone call from a friend)? Maybe it's when you are building a relationship with someone either to share the Gospel with them, or investing deeply in a discipleship relationship, and they get angry with you, or worse, choose to abandon you? Maybe it's when things are going great, and you forget that it was Jesus who was the one who has blessed you with everything you have? Do you lose faith? Do you forget your confidence in Jesus? Do you forget that there is a much greater hope awaiting you? Or do you stand in the face of adversity (and in the face of blessing), remembering the hope you have, armed at the ready knowing that Jesus is everything?
How do we apply this?
Always Be Ready: There is never a time in our lives where we should not be armed without the Gospel. This means we need to dig deep in the scriptures, pray consistently, talk about Jesus with others, and remember always that our hope lies with Him. Is your time with Christ only in the mornings or church? Or are you constantly thinking how your life fits within God's calling for you?
Don't Be Fooled: This life (and Satan) constantly wants us to think we are at peace time. While we have peace with God through Jesus, we are always engaged in warfare, even if we choose not to fight. Date nights, vacations, routine work, special projects, family events, ALL are still in the midst of heavy fire from our flesh, the world, and Satan. Are you fighting to have Jesus at the forefront? Or are you deceived into thinking that it's ok to rest from Him?
Equip through Humility: Be willing to do whatever it takes to fight the war that's been won through the cross of Christ. That means being willing to admit where you need help. Get invested in your Church, and if you're in
college, get plugged into a college ministry. Ask to be discipled, so
that people can help you grow so that you can learn to run to Christ
throughout all areas of life, as well as share those truths with other
people. If blogs are helpful, here are a few more that can assist you. (The Relentless Fight, Loving Him is Red, Knowable Word)
Thanks for reading, and keep escaping to the one who gives true refuge as we fight the war of life.