Jesus was Born a Marine

People of faith;
that’s what they call us,
so faith is important
because, you know, it’s right in our name.
But, people misunderstand this faith business.
Have you noticed?
My coworker smiled at me
with, you know, the smile you use when you’re
tolerating some old person’s story
or a friend’s vacation photos.
Anyway, she smiled and said,
“It must be nice to have the faith you have.”
It was hard to continue using my
inside voice as I ended our conversation.
Nice? I thought. Nice?
There’s nothing nice about faith.
Just as there’s nothing nice about
kevlar vests
body guards
impregnable walls of stone
steel gates
chain mail
barbed wire
or force fields.
Just the fact of them indicates
something terribly not nice is involved in their
necessity.
King David had faith,
faith like armor.
When David had been chosen king
but had yet to claim his kingdom
he lived in the stronghold
that eventually became the City of David.
And men, warriors, fighting men, rugged men
men who liked to scratch and spit
came to him in the
stronghold
and his forces grew within the stronghold
until he came into his kingdom.
A kingdom that, at first,
was only his by proclamation of the prophet
and by faith.
Inside the stronghold
David learned about spiritual warfare
and wrote what he learned in the Psalms.
“The Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.” Psalm 9:9
“The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” Psalm 18: 2
“The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” Psalm 27:1
There are more Psalms about strongholds,
many more,
Because God knew that even when the world
became civilized
we would know, viscerally, the need for
protection
from evil,
for strongholds,
for faith like a shield
not for decoration
but as a barrier against weaponry
aimed at the vulnerable spaces
between our ribs
and our ideals.
Faith is not a nice thing.
It’s not a poster for the wall,
a saying on a gift mug
a symbol on a keychain
a fish on my car
a greeting on a Christmas card,
or a status on my wall.
Faith is the shield
raised up against the poison-tipped arrows
flaming
flying from the bows of the enemy
encamped along the hills
of my everyday life
pointy objects aimed at my organs
and the soft flesh of those I love
faith is the thing I grip so tight
my fingers lock
my arms ache
and I bleed from the clenched fist
I make around
the handle of faith
held up against the blows of the forces
against me
and so I don’t want something nice
or pleasant
or cute
like a greeting card
bumper sticker
Bible cover
test-a-mint
I want tested, tenacious,
stalwart, reinforced, durable, fixed,
heavy-duty, substantial, unyielding,
immovable, impenetrable
faith.
When trouble comes
and it comes
and comes
and doesn’t stop coming
I don’t want stained glass nice
I want rock-hard, in-your-face faith
that builds up
from hunkering down in the stronghold
named Jesus
clinging to the ultimate faith
that one day
His kingdom will come
and that I will have a place in it
a place
where I can lay down my shield
flop down in the green grass
beside King David
and catch my breath as we take in the
welcoming blue sky
of home.
Merry faith-filled Christmas, loved ones. Wrap faith around you like chain mail and brace yourself for a new year.
Jesus must have been a Marine because He was born, battle-ready, and He is Always Faithful.
Semper Fi.

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5 Comments

    The Conversation

  1. Anonymous says:

    Hoorah! MOMMA

  2. “I want rock-hard, in-your-face faith that builds up from hunkering down in the stronghold named Jesus…” Now that’s faith. Thanks for sharing your heart!