The shine from the brass could blind you from bad choices. The blade from the sword could cut your conscience. The point from the spear could pierce your heart with truth. And, one could tell you of the defense offered by a shield, breastplate, or helmet. All are said to be essential to a soldier of Christ (Ephesians 6:10-18.) And while the armor of God is essential for victory over evil, I’d like to take a look at the transformation that can take place, as we walk amongst the children of this world. Consider, for a moment, the footwear, not worn by our saintly soldier, but another tale of old…
The path was long and dusty. Footsteps fell in line. They were sojourners in a foreign land and many days had passed since they had last eaten. They took stock amongst their possessions and found they had little to start with but stones and water. The troop pulled these meager possessions together and set out with a plan - a plan to save. While their attempts at first glance seemed grim, our strangers set out with the resolve of warriors, no turning back. They were beginning with little, yet they intended to feast. Given limitations, how astounding could it be to find that minds in the right place, and a will to work, were accomplishing great things contrary to their nature?
These lines of writing may remind our reader of a fable from days past. In the fable, we are introduced to a motley group, who lacks necessary foods as the paragraph describes. But, with a little creativity, willing interactions from local people, and a desire to survive, these travelers are able to convince total strangers to pool their resources and create a fair and sustainable soup, of which all could partake. Blades of war become cutting instruments for greens. Helmets of defense become collectors of spice. Arrows of death even became skewers for life. Imagine a breastplate so broad, to serve as a platter for stock. Though valiant in conflict, these sojourners also show abilities to serve and a willingness to nurture peace. As Christians, we too, can draw much from this tale in our own daily walk seeking to serve our God and accomplish great things.
A borrowed pot, collected wood, flame from a torch, and flavoring from our Lord - time and seasonings can show His glory. This story, while a simple tale of the importance of sharing, can also illustrate how our own walk in service to God can be enriched by the hearts and souls of our brethren on earth. Could we be so willing to take a chance and regularly find success in helping each other in little ways, though not our normal daily walk? Does our wisdom begin without a search for truth? Do we seek to share our knowledge? Can we pool with others and reach new levels of understanding?
God has blessed every one of us, and it is best if we can use those blessings in a universal fashion. Colossians 4:5 reminds us, that we are to walk in wisdom to outsiders. Yet, Ecclesiastes 3:10-14 refers to the fact that our lives should have priorities, our influence should be felt, and God’s purpose should be realized. In the aforementioned tale we see our needy travelers acting in such a way, that others feel the benefit. Using a clearly understood plan, a conscientious effort is made that does not overly burden any one individual but helps all. By having our hearts in a right, unified place we can reward many and avoid selfish motivations.
In any situation, it is important to make regular checks of status. Our travelers knew their situation. One would think the hunger pangs reminded them daily. What does our own hunger tell us? Do we have a thirst, a need for fulfillment? Though our time upon this earth is fleeting, we too have been given a great commission. It is to be our desire and underlying goal for everything else we do upon this earth. God will be with us, even to the end of the age (Matthew 28:19-20.) Would it not be best to know we have found His favor?.
This life presents us with challenges, and many times we may feel our own personal skill set lacking. Yet, just as the travelers in our tale would have been involved in menial tasks - carrying water, stacking wood, cutting vegetables, scattering spices or stirring the pot, so too can every one of us play an important though easily “overlooked” task. Our Lord is good, our Lord is great, and He is aware of all and has blessed us in many unseen ways. We may question the weakness of His first chosen people; people looking forward to the blessings of Deuteronomy 28:4-10. We may pause from our own daily anxieties, that burden us in a world that is often beyond our control. However, in all things we trust in Him, knowing He is in control, Philippians 4:19. Even if the walk is not one we have directly chosen, it can still be one in which we can serve God richly.
The time we have on this earth is short one. But, without proper attention, it can lead to a terrible eternity with no end. There are footsteps from the past, that lead us and a solemn goal to attain. As children of God we have the one Rock to hold onto and a promise of the water of life. With the right motivation, we can use these ingredients and create our own stone soup.