On darts, missiles and clenched jaws…

Ephesians 6

I don’t think the shield of faith is supposed to give you clenched jaws.

But judging by my tense shoulder muscles and that old familiar TMJ ache, that’s where I’ve been attempting to carry the shield of faith this week.

Or not.

People hear “spiritual warfare” and they think of head-spinning, pea-soup-spitting, gutteral-noise-making, wild-eyed people requiring some super-hired holy person with great Scriptural knowledge.

Warfare in the spiritual realm doesn’t usually look like that.

“Fiery darts,” by the way, translates as “missile, dart, javelin, arrow.” We’re talking weapons of all sizes. Sometimes you get missiles, sometimes darts.

The missiles are ones that we often think to pull out the shield for – “Run for shelter! That’s a biggie!”

The darts? Not so much.

      “What am

I

    going to do about this?”
      “Where
    is that going to come from?”
      “How can

I

    take care of that?”

Clenched jaws. Sore muscles.

What is it about the little things that makes me forget that I already have a shield of faith?

When we see the Greek word “faith” used in the Bible, it is always from God. It is never something that can be produced by people. That thrills me. I’m not so great at this on my own. The Roman shield to which Paul referred was big. I have full protection.Shield of Faith

“For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith. Who is he that overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” (1 John 5:4-5)

Cool, huh? And there’s more.

Jesus says, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

My problems right now aren’t huge. Not in the grand scheme of things. But they are big to me. And you better believe that the enemy is going to utilize every negative thing in my life to make me worry, to fill me with anxiety, to make me walk around with a clenched jaw.

Fiery darts. Shield of faith. Flaming missiles. Shield of faith.

And Paul said it quenches them. Extinguishes them. Puts them out.

Neither Paul nor Jesus said the problems automatically go away. The darts (or missiles) aren’t necessarily the problems themselves. Usually, it is the way the enemy uses your problems. Jesus said we “will have tribulation.” But He promises peace – “that in Me you may have peace.”

Peace.

Just the word itself brings a calming breath.

“Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 5:1)

Paul says the shield of faith extinguishes the attacks of “the wicked one.”

And because we don’t always recognize problems as attacks, we don’t always realize we need to fight them.

Life’s problems may be just that. Life’s problems. But we are told to “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith…” (1 Peter 5:8)

He is going to take advantage of every situation.

What didn’t strike me until writing this, is that this verse immediately follows the one I have claimed as my own since fourth grade:

“casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7)

Another breath. The jaw relaxes.

The preface to that is verse six: “Therefore, humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time,”

Cares and tribulations come. We are assured of that.

I have to humble myself before God.

Then when I’m humble enough to realize that I can’t fix it on my own, I’m able to cast my cares on Him. In faith.

“Can’t do this on my own, Lord.”

    “God, please, help me to trust.”
      “Father, will you fix this? It’s a mess.”

Because He cares for me. He wants me to. I’m really not being a pain when I ask for His help.

That’s all part of vigilance. Of being steadfast in the faith.

It’s hard to hold up my shield of faith when I’m holding on to a pack of troubles!

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Dragons & dustbunnies

BeFunky_overwhelmed-26867-27583-hd-wallpapers.jpgWhat is it that overwhelms you?

Do you tend to rely on God more when it comes to the big things or the small ones?

I call these the dragons and the dustbunnies.

Dragons are the big battles in life – the bills that are impossible to pay, the illnesses that have no apparent cure, the spouse who isn’t faithful.

Dustbunnies are the little things, the things we “should” be able to take care of ourselves – the monthly budget, a busy calendar, and, well, dustbunnies.

Not everyone is a dragonslayer. We aren’t all created that way and it is a good thing. There are all sorts of problems that need to be taken care of.

David boldly faced the giant, chiding his fellow Israelites, saying, “For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God.” (1 Samuel 17:26) He’d killed a lion and a bear, knowing that it was through God’s deliverance. He recognized God as his deliverer. “…for the battle is the Lord’s, and He will give you into our hands.” (verse 47)

He was a dragonslayer – trusting in God in the big battles.

I suspect he had a harder time with the dustbunnies. We see David get depressed and weary. This is understandable. He was a king. The guy had a lot on his plate. But remember Bathsheba? David didn’t do so well when he stayed home from the battle. (See 2 Samuel 11.)

Have you ever noticed that in Psalm 23 he says, “He makes me to lie down in green pastures”? Verse four is much bolder. “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.”

David was a dragonslayer.

I didn’t realize it until recently but I get that.

When my husband was spending months in the hospital, I did okay. I had a daily round of doctors, nurses, IVs, medications, dressing changes and the regular details of life to keep me busy. And where David had his mighty men of war, I was surrounded by a wonderful cadre of Believers lifting us up in prayer, walking the dog, bringing me food and quite literally, killing my dustbunnies.

Then we came home. People did not desert me. But daily life set in – school, medical appointments, bills, dishes and, yep, dustbunnies. Believe me, when dustbunnies and dog hair breed, the offspring is an ugly sight.

Trusting God with my husband’s life? There was not one thing I could do about it except follow every step of his medical care. I had to trust.

But I am supposed to be able to take care of the little things on my own.

And that’s boring.

I want to get out and slay dragons, swing a sword.

But I have dustbunnies to kill.

    They get bigger and become dragons.
      They grow teeth, snarl and breath fire.

I get

        OVERWHELMED.

Do you know how David fought his dustbunnies? The same way he fought Goliath.

He recognized he could not do it on his own and cried out to God for help:
Hear my cry, O God;
Attend to my prayer.
From the end of the earth I will cry out to You,

When my heart is overwhelmed;
Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.

He recalled how God had helped him in the past:
For You have been a shelter for me,
A strong tower from the enemy.

He rested in God’s promises:
I will abide in Your tabernacle forever;
I will trust in the shelter of Your wings.

He renewed his praise:
So I will sing praise to Your name forever,
That I may daily perform my vows.
(Psalm 61:1-4,8)

Dustbunnies or dragons – it doesn’t matter what they look like to other people. They can loom large in our lives.

We get

        OVERWHELMED.

Then we realize that the battle is the Lord’s. We cry out, “Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.”

Next time, we will take a look at someone else who had to learn to trust God with the little things. But for now, I have some snarling dustbunnies to kill.

“Dear Father, help me to lean on You, no matter how big or small my battles may seem. I know that there is no problem too small for You.”

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