Above ALL, take up the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. (Eph. 6:16)
So, as I confessed in my last post, I have been VERY distant from God. Not just for a few days. Not just for a few weeks. We're talking months here. Months of wandering, squandering and much doubting. Empty messages and daily life devoid of much meaning.
Is it because there were no good lessons out there? And suddenly no meaning to life?
I didn't find any truth or meaning because, quite simply... I was no longer looking for it.
Call it emotionally 'spent'. Call it pure laziness. Doesn't matter. What matters is that I'm finding my way back now (to open arms!) and the lessons learned while off the path.
It's not that I didn't desire to be back on the path, walking as swiftly as I once had. I knew what I was missing and wanted it back deeply. But, I just always find it so easy to fall into the mindset of taking things upon myself... when all He asks of us is to 'trust and obey'. This week, I just made a commitment to make a little more effort. Listen to the radio shows I once had listened to daily (David Jeremiah... and the likes). Pick up a book once in a while, for goodness' sake! Watch some quality television and movies... In other words, soak in as much of the Word as I could and redirect my focus. Or at least, much more than I had been lately...
Next thing I know, He's moving in my life. And moving ME once again.
All that to say... I can honestly attest to how easily faith can be wounded, compromised or even altogether lost, when you don't keep your guard up. And how hard it can be to find again.
In listening to David Jeremiah this week, he was reminding us of the importance of the 'full body of armor' in which to protect ourselves on our faith walk. This week, the focus was on the 'shield of faith'. One translation reads "Above ALL else..." Another reads "In EVERY battle, you will need faith as your shield..." Obviously, our faith is rather important in this battle of daily living.
To gain a deeper understanding of the shield Paul would be speaking of... I pulled up 'shield' in Wikipedia. Found a very helpful page that goes into great detail about the Roman Shield and what it was all about.
The 'scutum', as they referred to it, was "generally a large body shield. About 2.5 ft wide by 4 ft tall. It was made of plywood and covered in leather." Some contained a centrally located shield 'boss', which looks like a Hershey's kiss, but a whole lot scarier. "During the charge, the legionary would hold his shield in front of himself so that the force of the impact would, hopefully, knock his opponent to the ground. In this way, the scutum could serve as an offensive weapon by battering the enemy with the central boss and by hacking at him with the metal-bound edge."
(Wow. This ain't exactly your run scared and hide behind variety of shield, now is it?)
"Once he had reached, and overbalanced, his enemy, the legionary would often rest his scutum on the ground and fight from behind it while crouched. This would lower his center of gravity, making it harder for him to be pushed back or knocked off-balance, and would also allow for more of his body to be protected by the shield."
A place of safety and stability... now, who doesn't want that? However, "it should be stressed that this technique would result in a rather static position, and Roman tactics tended to rely on moving forward."
We can't just stay in one place... we must press on... in faith... "It is certain that, when called for, he would have held his shield in front of himself and continued to press forward."
(Now, all of this was really cool to learn... but this was my favorite part....)
"In siege warfare, the scutum could be employed in a unique formation known as the testudo, or tortoise. In the testudo, the soldiers on the front and sides of the formation would hold their shields outward, while the remainder would overlap their shields above the heads of the formation. The result was a box enclosed on the front, sides, and top, leaving very few vulnerable openings. The testudo allowed the Romans to approach and undermine walls without much fear of arrows or rocks from above. It could be disrupted by weapons such as burning fat, but the testudo still served well as a quickly and easily deployed siege weapon."
There is DEFINITELY strength in numbers!! (Especially when you're not concerned with 'burning fat'!!) I read this part of the description and it just brought a tear to my eye! Thinking of all my fellow Christian soldiers and how even when (or perhaps I should say: especially when) my faith is weak and my shield is compromised, I am blessed to be part of their 'testudo'!
My mom asked me a week ago what reason I would give if someone were to ask why they should attend church or get involved in a church, when 'they can believe just as well by themselves'. This is just one (of many) examples I can think of. When you're a part of a strong church body... of believers who are in this good fight of faith with you...
Well, I just can't imagine anything better!