“Stand therefore, and fasten the belt of truth around your waist, and put on the breastplate of righteousness. As shoes for your feet put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace. With all of these, take the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”
Whenever I used to think of faithfulness, I used to think of it in rather romantic terms, like the long term devotedness of husband and wife or the acts of love and obedience from a much loved dog. I thought of diligence, duty and love.
My friend Andy was once planning a bachelor weekend for some of his city-dwelling friends. As part of festivities, he created the ‘country Olympics’ and this competition included brand new competitive activities, such as harrowing with a tractor, reversing a trailer, sheep shearing and fence building. I wish I’d been there to see it! No element of the competition showed universal success, and the fence building particularly yielded some hilarious results.
Fence building is a skill. The posts have to be firmly rooted in the ground using a fencepost driver–a steel tube, sealed at one end with handles on either side. The fencepost is fed inside the driver and repetitively drummed into the ground. Fence post by fence post, the boundary is constructed. The fence posts need to be evenly spaced and able to withstand the tensions of the wire between them, and the antics of any livestock to be held within them. For gateposts at the ends, these are often further secured by a large hole and no small amount of concrete.
All this to say that standing firm isn’t something we can just will into existence, any more than we can push a post lightly into the ground with our hands and expect it to stand. Faithfulness depicted here is preparation for battle–breastplate, belt, boots, shield, helmet and sword. Faithfulness takes practice and training.
Faithfulness comes through rooting ourselves in prayer and in the Bible, committing its words to memory and its message to our hearts. It requires courage to see God at work in the world, it requires obedience and trust and it takes some practice too! How might God be calling you to deepen your faith, standing firmly in His truth this Lent?