The other day my husband and I were reminiscing about our early years in St. Petersburg. Not sure why, but we got to talking about a testing lab that was there many years ago. That particular lab tested the strength of various construction materials and they always had the neatest rounds of concrete that could be picked up for next to nothing. About the size of a jumbo sized soup can, they were perfect for edging flowerbeds, walks and drive-ways. And the price was right too!
There was always a big pile of the test cores to pick through. Many of course had failed their test and were cracked or broken. But there were still many that had passed the test.
Later, as I thought about some of the times that I spent picking through the pile to find unbroken chunks to use, I wondered where all of that concrete had been used? So many places it could have been used, right there in the city where I lived and worked. Highway overpasses, sidewalks, bridges, even buildings where I may have shopped.
For each specific use, whether a building or a bridge, the strength requirements were different.
And then I thought about how much strength it takes to survive life as we grow in our faith as a Christian. I thought about how sometimes we cruise along with no apparent obstacles to suddenly be attacked from every direction. Then I thought of Ephesians 6 and remembered what the Apostle Paul said to do. . .
“Finally, be strengthened by the Lord and by His vast strength. Put on the full armor of God so that you can stand against the tactics of the Devil. For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens. This is why you must take up the full armor of God, so that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having prepared everything, to take your stand. Stand, therefore with truth like a belt around your waist, righteousness like armor on your chest, and your feet sandaled with readiness for the gospel of peace. In every situation take the shield of faith, and with it you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is God’s word. Pray at all times in the Spirit with every prayer and request, and stay alert in this with all perseverance and intercession for all the saints.”
So often we try to stand against things that are oppressing us with our own strength. But as Christians we must not forget that God, in His grace and mercy has given us weapons and protection that is far above anything that can come against us.
The psalmist said in Psalm 17 that God had tested the heart and in Psalm 66, that God tests us, refines us as silver is refined. Silver requires temperatures exceeding 1760 degrees Fahrenheit to melt. That is an extreme test!
We all can look around and see the tremendous changes that are happening in the world. Attitudes about so many things are changing by the minute. Christians in the United States have never before been faced with so much opposition and discrimination. Nor have we ever suffered severe persecution. But I know I am not alone when I say that I believe that it is coming.
Begin each day by prayerfully putting on God’s armor. It will be our only defense.
LORD of all, thank you for Your armor. Help us to remember to put in on each morning before doing anything else. And when the temperatures rise as we are tested and tried, give us strength to stand as You once did. Amen.