When I was fairly young, one of my favorite movies was Braveheart. I remember sitting in rapt attention on the living room floor, stuffed horse gripped to my chest, watching the scene when the Scotsmen taunted their English enemies and then promptly retreated from the reciprocating storm of arrows behind a shell of wooden shields.

Ever since I first saw that movie, shields have fascinated me. I’ve researched all different kinds for different writing projects, and one thing that’s really struck me is how much thought goes into crafting a shield. It’s more than just a wood or metal blocker. Not only does a shield protect, it can also deflect a blow, snag an enemy’s weapon and disarm him, or even be used to deal damage itself.

The shield is versatile—as is the power of our trust in God. Having firm trust helps protect us from the blows the enemy brings in the spiritual war; it provides the defense in knowing that as we lean on God during times of assault, these blows will not be our end. Our trust also helps us to disarm the enemy: to remove the power of those blows straight from his vicious hands. And our trust allows us to step forward and take back lost ground, confident in the God of angel armies standing at our back.

Making certain our shield is strong—that our trust in God is secure, given the proper attention, reinforced when it weakens, built back up if the blows leave it more fragile than it ought to be—is not only crucial to our protection and survival on this battlefield. It’s important for those around us, too.

In times of ancient warfare, it was common for the warriors of some armies, like the Greeks and Romans, to sport shields that protected more than just the single soldier. The shields were large enough or otherwise carefully designed to provide protection for the sheildbearer and at least one of his fellow warriors. And in the case of a fighting force working together, like the Scotsmen in Braveheart or Leonidas’s men in 300, the shields could all close in like a shell, helping protect everyone’s flanks at once.

That is what the shield of our trust does. It not only helps us defend against the fiery arrows of the wicked one, and to disarm and fight back…it can also help protect those who are close by. Our act of trust becomes their defense, their teacher, their rallying sign. It can help give them the courage to raise their shields, too—and protect those around them.

The shield of trust is the first piece of the armor of God that we don’t wear. We carry it. So we must make the choice to keep lifting it even when it grows heavy…even when we feel we lack the strength. We must find a way to step forward into our trust, again and again, for the protection of ourselves and those around us.

Lash on the truth. Strap on the righteousness. Plant your feet. Raise your shield.