We don’t need the biblical shield of faith if we carry our own shield that says “no” to experiences that we don’t like. The real shield of faith, which I think few wield, allows us to say “yes” to everything, including evil spiritual warfare. The biblical shield of faith is actually trust–trust that GOD protects us so that we don’t have to self-protect. Jesus demonstrated this during the Passion, and received what we fear from so risky a trust: he died.
But then came Easter. Easter always comes.
This death->Easter deal isn’t popular. No sane person likes to die. What’s popular is self-protection. Self-protection works quite brilliantly, sometimes for long years. But then, after awhile, we begin to wonder what the hell is wrong. Why do we feel lifeless? Why is the rat race beating us down? Why are we waking up, anxious, in the middle of the night?
I’ll tell you why. Inside of each of us is a longing for renewal, a gnawing for transformation, and a haunting for transcendence. It’s the hunger for Easter. There is no dawn without night, no spring without winter, and no Easter without death. Each follows the other. We must choose to surrender to something greater to (invisibly) carry us through the transitions, or grow stale and frail like a season out of time. Somehow we know this…and fear it.
There are no ironclad promises. No “for sure’s”. This is why it’s called faith. A caterpillar does not know what’s happening during its transformation to a butterfly. We do, as outsiders, but the caterpillar doesn’t. It has no frame of reference that it could be something more than a caterpillar, and doesn’t even know what flying is, let alone how to do it.
We are like the caterpillar almost every day, and we can choose to go along or not. Jesus urges us to go along. The way he said it was to pick up our cross daily, which is also how often transformation (Easter) can happen!
One last thing. Don’t try to guilt yourself into more faith, because it never works. Faith happens quite naturally as you continue listening and seeing. Trust your longings. Trust the gnawing. Trust the haunting. They are God-breathed into your very soul, and they are among your best allies for courageous living.