“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Phil 4: 6-7)
Jesus is the Prince of peace. The Angels announced peace on Earth. Jesus promised to leave us His peace. The above scripture is a very familiar one. But when our hearts and minds are assailed, and our prayer life seems to have packed its bags and moved to another planet, where do we find this peace?
We know Jesus is always with us because He promised that He would be, and because His Spirit dwells in us. But at the heart of a victorious and fruitful Christian life has to be the experience of walking in the reality of His presence. And if we are experiencing His presence we will be experiencing His peace. If you are like me these experiences are often short lived and irregular, like those occasional moments on a cloudy day when the sun breaks through and illuminates life in liquid gold. How do we get to walk in the sunshine?
There are different areas where this applies, but the main one – for a people called dwell in love – has to be the area of our relationships. This is where we need our hearts to be guarded. Following close behind that must be wisdom in decision-making, and here it’s our minds we need to guard; but I will look at this in another article.
As we know, the devil’s mission is always to destroy, and as often as not our sunshine is ruined not by destruction in our circumstances, but by destruction in our relationships. Paul famously goes into detail about how to stand against the onslaughts of the enemy In his letter to the Ephesians. Specifically, he writes about “all the fiery darts of the evil one.” Fiery darts often come in the form of unexpected negative reactions from someone close, often a loved one. if we let those darts penetrate our hearts, we flare up too: fighting ensues, and a fire starts, damaging the relationship. Yet we have been given a resource in that will extinguish those darts, and we all know what it is:
“Above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.” (Ephesians 6:16)
If we quench those darts with the shield of faith there is no fire. Behind the shield of faith we can find the peace of Christ.
All well and good, but how? There are 2000 years’ worth of applications of the image of the shield of faith, so I do not pretend that the following is the only way of understanding the scripture. But in this context I see the shield that we hold as the one that tells us that Jesus has overcome the world, and has lifted us into a heavenly place of fellowship with Himself and the Father. Now it becomes simple. When a fiery dart comes our way, do we sit on our heavenly seat with Jesus, and say: “excuse me Lord, while I just pop down there and argue with my spouse?“ Or do we receive His peace and hide our hearts behind the shield that tells us that His peace is ours?
This still may sound easier said than done, and I am sure it is, especially when she said this! And he said that! And that’s just not true! Maybe so. But at His trial Jesus said nothing to His accusers, and went on to tear down the veil of the temple with His love. The trials of “unfair“ words that come our way are not even the tiniest whispers in comparison with what Jesus went through on our behalf, so if we cannot respond with a healing word to the hurt/anger/disappointment that in some way we have caused, then at least we can say nothing and stay behind our shield where God’s peace reigns. We don’t put our heads out again until we can share what the Prince of peace has given us.
If we hold up our shield to the darts that come our way we can be peacemakers, but if we don’t we become peace breakers. We know which of the two groups are called the children of God.