Monday, 22 October 2012

Letters and a Dart-Extinguishing Shield

As a writer, my favorite passages of scripture tend to be Paul's letters, as they are so very matter of fact, alive, and weighty.  I adore “weighty” passages; those that must be mulled over and slowly digested are some most excellent challenges, which I may write of another time.  Lately, I've been finding it hard to persevere in many parts of life.  However; this is not about me, it's about letters and perseverance to convictions.

I find it humorous how tales of old, such as Sir Walter Scott's Ivanhoe or even Marmion romanticize those shiny fighters;  those ruthless knights.  How ridiculous.  Others turn and dress up the Romans from days when the Empire was at its zenith.  So why do I embrace Paul's analogy to armor in Ephesians and almost skeptically scoff at the strong knight?

First, knights were only strong because of their will, their insistence, and their power.  Christians, however, are to be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power (vs. 10).  True, we could perhaps craft ourselves brittle coverings like crabs or lobsters, but they serve only to protect our sinful skin, whilst God's armor not only protects us but advances His name while showing others His glory.

Every single time I read this passage, I am enamored by the word whole  in verse 11.  Paul says to put on the entire armor.  He never said "You'll be fine; all you'll need is your sword."  No, we need it all.  This is, in fact, quite humbling.  Verse 14 states to "stand", which only makes sense, a hoplite, knight, or soldier cannot put their gear on while sitting (save for shoes; but otherwise it is unheard of). We need salvation, but even after being saved, we need God's righteousness, peace, and truth.  It is an interrelated web of blessings quite interdependent on one another.

I may scoff at knights because none of them ever impress me: Ever. Yesterday or today. Realistically of figuratively.  It is too bad for them; although they could probably have cared less.  (They probably are not impressed by me...)  Regardless, none of the Romans impressed me (the bigots) but the soldiers of faith do.  Soldiers of faith accepted the entire armor, and, unlike the knights and Romans, who took great delight in causing more than enough trouble, they faithfully wore the shoes of readiness of peace.  (This is quite convicting; how often do I run to make a situation peaceful?) 

The part I thought the best was the amazing shield of faith.  No knight had ever thought of this kind of protection.  This shield is actually what helps one endure hardship.  Think of the most high-tech weapon in the world. This defies them all! Nothing can penetrate it: All opposition does not bounce off it, but is rather absorbed by it.  The shield of faith does not only ward off the evil, it extinguishes all the flaming darts of the evil one.  Not just a certain evil thought or specific action; but all those darts.  No weapon could be more useful.  

The verse I had in mind while writing is verse 18, where perseverance is mentioned.  Lately, I am barely holding onto my sanity. I may be exaggerating: I probably am, but life is hard, and though I hate to admit it, I am, sometimes, tired of giving my all, which is when I slip. I have convictions that, because I am so very stubborn about them, will not dissipate. The bad part is that I feel stupid for them when they are sound judgments God has given me. He cares, and I know I am supposed to follow what he’s laid out.  Perseverance, however, is not mentioned without prayer.  In all things it is imperative that we remain alert in prayer and supplication. I was fighting being upset at students the other day; people do not think, and sometimes it frustrates me. No one ever really knows, but it's true.  I am not going to become a knight or soldier that feasts day in and day out, losing track of time and slowly drifting into unconsciousness, which is exactly why I continue serving, questing, helping, writing, reading, standing.

Fellow Christian, as Relient K so glibly puts it, it’s completely up to us to maintain consciousness; which is exactly why standing while putting on the whole armor of God is just as important as alertness in prayer and supplication.  You can't sit down and apply this weight.

Stand up while readying, lest you lose this alertness in prayer.

The Holy Bible. English Standard Version. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2007. Print.

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