Faith is my go to answer when things get ugly. Or when things are good. When making a decision. When facing changes. It is my strongest spiritual gift ... which at first disappointed me. Faith? What do I do with faith? Craftsmanship, teaching, exhortation, healing ... those are all DOING something! What can I do with faith?
It turns out, everything.
"in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one."
- Ephesians 6:16
Not just arrows ... flaming arrows. Arrows that not only pierce but burn, smoldering and wounding from within after piercing armor and flesh.
Arrows of doubt, that threaten to pierce the heart and undermine everything you believe.
Arrows of anger, that burn white hot and blind us to the healing power of forgiveness not only for the object of our rage but for ourselves.
Arrows of division, that cause us to lose sight of our real enemy and strike out at one another.
The shield of faith is held out before us ... away from our bodies, and Ephesians doesn't just say that it knocks these arrows from the air ... it extinguishes them. Rendering them harmless and ineffective.
Our Sunday School class is currently studying a book by Mary Jo Sharp entitled "Resilient Faith" and I feel blessed to have run across this portion while thinking and praying over this blog post:
"We tend to look to faith as a last resort when all else fails. This is backward! Faith should come first."
- Mary Jo Sharp, Resilient Faith, p. 9Like a shield! Why is faith a shield? It should come first ... it should go out before us and eliminate some of our enemies attacks before we even draw back our sword to fight.
In fact, our faith alone affects our salvation. Not how we fight this spiritual war. Not what deeds we do on earth. Not who our family is, how we raise our children.
"For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God."
-Ephesians 2:8In effect, our shield of faith goes before us and reminds the enemy this battle is already won. It should remind us that the battle is already one. Stand tall, brave soldier. Like Joshua leading the Israelites into the promised land ... you already know the outcome! Put that confidence out in front of you and storm in through its wake!
"Your faith has saved you."
-Luke 7:50, Matthew 9:22, Mark 5:34