By: Andy Geffers
“Take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.” Ephesians 6:16
The shield of Faith has been a very important part of the armor of God in my life and ministry. The evil one would love for us to stay where we are, comfortable and content. That is one of his primary battle plans against us.
I felt called to ministry as a pre-teen before I really understood what ministry actually was. I was saved as a young child, but at twelve years old while at a Bible camp, I responded and gave my life to the Lord to use however he wanted. At the time, I did not fully comprehend that this initial faith decision was only the beginning of a lifetime of interactions with God in which I would need to put on the shield of faith to defend against the evil one’s attempts to keep me in a comfort zone. Putting on the shield of faith has kept me saying “yes” to Jesus throughout my life and ministry. Without the shield of faith, I would have given in to fear instead of trusting in a faithful God.
What does putting on this shield of faith look like in my life? It begins by believing that God is good. Second, it requires believing that God has a plan for my life and ministry. And then, it is never allowing these two truths to be separated.
God personally goes before us preparing our way with both his goodness and his greater plan in mind. I love the New Living Translation of Deuteronomy 31:8. “Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you.” The emphasis on God personally going before me has strengthened my faith and allowed me to step into the roles he has called me to fill, even roles for which I have felt completely unqualified.
Jeremiah 29:11 is another verse that has been a foundation for my faith in a good God who has a good plan for my life. “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” This promise does not mean that our lives will be easy, or that our ministry will be easy, or that our fruit will be as visible as we would like. This is a familiar verse, but many people do not realize that shortly after hearing this claim, Israel went into exile. This fact does not take away from the truth of the verse, but is a reminder that no matter what comes my way, even exile, it does not change the fact that God is good and his plan is good.
When at 35 years old God asked me to say “yes” to becoming a youth pastor, it required putting on the shield of faith. I had never been a pastor and to leave a good job to step into ministry, making half the money, with a family of four was, well, frightening. I never felt like I was uniquely gifted to be a pastor. I was shy, I did not like talking in front of people, I was not a high energy, highly outgoing person like most of the youth pastors I knew. But I had to put on the shield of faith. I had to believe that God was good and that he had a plan for my life and ministry that he had prepared in advance for me to do.
Faith is believing in what we do not see yet, but know to be true. Faith is leaning on what we do see, what we do know, and what we have experienced in order to believe in what has been promised but so far has been left unseen, unknown, and/or undone.
There have been many other times when I have had to put on the shield of faith to fight off the evil one’s attempt to keep me from God’s plan, but the most recent and maybe the hardest time was when I was asked to step into the Interim District Superintendent role for the New England District of the C&MA. Talk about a time when the evil one tried to cripple me with the flaming arrow of fear! Without the shield of faith, I never would have been able to say “yes”. If I had not believed that God is good and that he would not ask me to do anything that he had not planned for and gone ahead of me to prepare the way, I would have definitely not agreed. But, if I had not put on the shield of faith, I would have missed out on the growth and the amazing experience of learning what it means to live completely dependent on God on a daily basis.
It is hard when we follow God and we experience difficulty and challenges. In those times it’s easy to allow the evil one to begin to chip away at our faith. When I begin to doubt the goodness of God, 1 Peter 2:24 and other passages like it are the ultimate reminder of our Savior’s goodness.“He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.” What a great reminder of how good our God is. He sent his only son Jesus to die for my sin and your sin so that even though we were born sinful we are now a new creation, we are now sinless in the eyes of God because of Jesus’ blood. Not only that but he also took our brokenness to the cross. Therefore, even our physical bodies can be healed because of what he has done for us. In light of this, how can we ever think that our God is not good?
God is good. God has a plan for your life and ministry. You do not need to become a pastor or a District Superintendent. All you need to do is put on the Shield of faith and believe that no matter what you are facing or what God is calling you to do, whether it be job related, ministry related, health related, relationship related or something else, God is good and he has a plan for your life. And never allow the two to be separated!