“In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which
you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one.”
You may be wondering how my day ended up yesterday. Certainly, I had opportunities to use my shield of faith! That’s a good thing because I could plainly see that this piece of armor is fully capable of doing the job God intended for it. It’s simply a matter of getting familiar with it. And how does one get familiar? By using it.
That’s an interesting thought, isn’t it! Yes, God protects me from evil, but he doesn’t completely remove it from me. Yes, I believe that God will limit exposure through prayers like Matthew 6:13, “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” However, we know that God does expose us to temptation, as we see he did with Jesus in the desert in Matthew 4. I would be uncomfortable saying to Satan, “Bring it on!” because I am no match for him. Not even close. I desire to be nowhere near him as often as possible because I know that I am prone to failure. Why would I want to be around something that has a burning desire to destroy me?
Yet God uses Satan and his demons for His own purposes. One of those is make me holy. We can think of it as his refining fire. Another image Jesus uses is of the gardener pruning his trees.
John 15:1-5 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.
So, the fiery darts of the evil one were allowed by God, intentionally. To do what? Prune me. Why? That I may one day bear more fruit. I think that makes sense.
Now, how did that play out for me yesterday? I had two encounters that weren’t fun. One was unexpected, the other was. The unexpected was a belligerent man, the other was intent on proving a point. As I reflect on these encounters, I am starting to think that the real lesson is learned AFTER the event. How did I react? Could I have done anything different? Should I have expected it? What would God have as a desired outcome?
You see, my Shield of Faith can withstand heavy, heavy blows; however, is that how I am intended to use it? I can fight with heavy blows, but is that the best way to fight? Might I be wise to learn other techniques to avoid being cornered and forced to take those types of blows? I think so. I would be wise to be nimble on my feet, to twist and dodge and avoid direct contact. Sure, I will receive blows, and I have my shield, but I would be very wise to learn all the techniques of spiritual warfare.
Thus, the value of the post-game review. It will reveal my weaknesses and areas that I need to work on. Did my temper surface? Do I know that my temper most often turns an encounter into a brawl? Wouldn’t it be better to avoid that? What weakness do I have that causes my temper to “come to the rescue”? Am I insecure about something? Is there something in my life that I need to change? Or, maybe I’m believing a lie and not seeing things through God’s perspective?
What about the other person? Am I looking at him/her through the eyes of God? Do I see this person as I see myself, desperately in need of a Savior? How might that change my tactic? Or, maybe I’m wasting my time with this person altogether. Could that be a possibility?
Proverbs 15:1 A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.
Proverbs 20:3 It is an honor for a man to keep aloof from strife, but every fool will be quarreling.
So, how did I do? Better than I have. I was prepared for trouble, as you know through yesterday’s post, so that helped. Otherwise, I did better than other times, but I have room for improvement. Perhaps primary is to practice my dance moves. It would be better to side-steps some of the blows. You know, let the other person wear him/herself out by swinging wildly into the air. I could do more of that.
Father, thank you for teaching me. I have so much yet to learn; but I do believe this can be a joy, just like James says. “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” That’s what I desire. Amen.
Copyright © 2020 Scott Powers
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