Being & Building Followers & Friends of Jesus
Taking up the armor of God and bearing fruit
Could there be two more disparate images of the Christian life than the battle cry to put on the Armor of God in Ephesians 6 and the Fruit of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5? Yet, when the Israelites were living in “the land of milk and honey” promised them by God, they were constantly battling to preserve the fruitful land and the “peace on every side” that would allow them to cultivate it. All through Judges and the books of history: Samuel 1 & 2, 1st and 2nd Chronicles and 1 & 2 Kings, battle after battle is recounted, where the people of God won or lost, were victorious or oppressed. There you find David, the Shepherd King, who gave us Psalms rich with the imagery of sheep, trees, and a peaceful, pastoral life of trust and fruitfulness.
It would seem that having the fruitfulness of our faith requires a readiness for warfare. Joshua, before entering the Promised Land, conferred with the “Commander of the Lord’s Army” to receive his marching orders. Gideon could not thresh wheat on the threshing floor instead of in the winepress, hidden away, until he grew to the stature of God’s decree, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior,” and defeated the Midianites.
Yet, preparation for the battle comes from growing in the fruitfulness of a God honoring life. David prepared for his role as a warrior in the meadows with the sheep, tending them while singing his heart out to God. His own lineage springs from the story of a fruitful barley harvest that brought two lovers, Boaz and Ruth, together. Their quiet lives, lived after the pattern God established, sowed the seed from which Jesus, our Messiah, would one day spring.
One night, before I was to attend a Marriage conference with my fiancée, I was in such intestinal distress that I was unable to sleep. So, I sat up in a recliner and watched a video of a powerful worship service recorded in Jerusalem. This led me into one of the most powerful times of prayer I have ever experienced. In his song, “Dreaming Again,” Wayne Watson said, “If I could see myself through your eyes/ It would be easier to breathe.” I did not find that to be true. I had no breath in me to sustain my sobs as God showed me myself, as a beautifully made, finely honed sword, that He had poured all of His love and skill into fashioning.
Then, God revealed to me that though He had created me as a weapon of warfare, He wanted me to tend the gardens of people’s hearts. I have always identified greatly with the character of Eowyn in Lord of the Rings. She speaks of herself as a “Shield maiden of Rohan”, ungentle and eager for battle and deeds of great renown. She, like myself, fretted over the womanly roles she was cast in and feared spending her life trapped in a cage of other people’s ideals.
However, in the end, after a deed of great renown wounds her deeply, she is healed by a gentle love that woos her back to wholeness. At the end of the book, she declares that she wishes to plant and tend gardens, finding her happiness as the wife of Faramir, and restoring a land that the darkness had devastated. I too long more and more for the day when we will “beat our swords into plowshares” and know the peace and restoration of that final, eternal reign of Jesus, Son of David.