Trying to defend yourself with a fuzzy shield

It’s really easy to say you have faith. Anyone can say they have faith. Faith has become this ethereal concept in religious circles that Christians use to comfort people in difficult times. Have faith. Hold on to your faith. Keep faith. But I prefer a practical approach.

What does it even mean to hold on to faith? Because I’m getting ready to jump off a cliff of extreme uncertainty. This is my last week of work at a “real” job, and already my plans are mostly falling through. I can’t help but laugh, though, because all my plans that are failing are the ones I had constructed to support myself, and supporting myself has never been the goal of leaving my awesome job. Following God in every way has been.

So what does it look like to have faith, practically speaking?

1346340_80135298Today’s verse is Ephesians 6:16.

In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil.

This verse is from one of the most famous and frequently quoted passages in Scripture. Ephesians 6 has a lot in it about relationships in families, but tucked away toward the bottom is a large section on the Armor of God. It’s one of my favorite passages (for more than one reason), mostly because it takes an element of a Christian’s life and breaks it down into practical examples.

Take faith for example. Faith, the foggy, fuzzy, uncertain thing we throw around in our conversations. Faith isn’t fuzzy. The Bible calls faith a shield.

If you try to defend yourself with a fuzzy shield, you’re going to be in trouble. Shields aren’t fuzzy. They’re firm and solid and strong.

Faith isn’t impractical. It’s not ethereal or insubstantial. It’s solid and real and strong enough to fight off Satan’s attacks, strong enough to give you a place to stand when everything is falling apart around you.

Faith isn’t a feeling, as our culture would have us believe. Faith is a choice. It’s a decision you make every morning when you wake up, every hour as you go through the day, and every night before you go to sleep. You choose to either follow God or do things your own way.

That’s it.

And that goes for worrying and fretting and insecurity and pride too. You can choose to feel them. You can choose to focus on them. Or you can choose not to.

It’s not wrong to feel them initially, of course. Everybody does. At one point or another, Satan will come after you with his weapons of fear and insecurity and selfishness. He’ll try to lure you into those deep pits. And it’s important to remember that feeling those things doesn’t mean you’re sinning. Choosing to dwell on them is what makes it a sin.

When you’re tempted to feel fear and you make a decision based on your fear instead of your faith, that’s sin. When you’re tempted to serve yourself and you make a decision to do what’s best for you instead of helping someone God’s put in your path, that’s a sin.

We’ve all been there. So it’s important to understand that faith isn’t as fuzzy as we seem to think it is. It’s not like trying to hold on to a cloud or trying to catch a puff of smoke. If that’s what you’re chasing, it’s not faith.

You get faith from getting to know God through His word. Read it. Learn it. Know it. And you’ll get to know Him, and the better you know Him, the more you’ll see that there’s nothing He can’t do.

So when the moments come that knock you down, you won’t stay down because with God’s help you can stand up in faith. When the things you don’t expect threaten to overwhelm you, you won’t fall because you can keep standing in faith. And when you think you’ve reached the end of your rope, you won’t fail because you’re not relying on your own strength–you’re relying on God’s strength through faith.

Don’t be fooled into thinking that faith is fuzzy. It’s not. It’s rock solid, your best defense against our enemy’s attacks, and it’s something you don’t want to leave home without.