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No toy weapons against real foes

March 29, 2011 One Comment

by Peggy Pedersen

Protesters wave toy guns and the Kingdom of Libya flags during an anti-Qaddafi demonstration in Benghazi. Suhaib Salem / Reuters

This week while I watched news coverage of fighting in Libya, a reporter discovered one of the combatants had only a plastic toy gun. At one point the man even risked death—braving live ammunition—trying to recover his “weapon.”

How often in life’s trials and spiritual battles against forces of darkness we are tempted to place our faith in useless weapons. These come in many varieties: our own merits and strengths and wisdom, fallible people, false idols and ideologies. Trusting in these endangers not only our life, but our very soul.

Once, when living in Los Angeles, I felt quite threatened by the rate of crime. Although I had lived in many large U.S. cities, it was the only place I ever carried mace. I began thinking: where can I go that is safe? But the more I thought, the more I realized that to escape one threat was to encounter another. If it was not earthquakes, then it was tornados, tsunamis, volcanoes, or floods. And if not those, then crime or oppressive governments or famine or disease. (I didn’t even consider the spiritual forces of darkness arrayed against us.) There was nowhere to escape eventual death. At the time, I did not have an answer.

The answer is not in our own devices, or relocating, or multiple locks on our doors, or mace or guns. I know now the answer is Jesus Christ. In Him is safety, shelter and eternal life. He is our rock. If we try facing the world, the flesh and the devil alone we will be defeated. But we have a champion, Jesus Christ, our Risen Lord, who fights on our behalf and He is undefeated. 

Since through Him everything was created and everything is maintained and controlled, He is our shelter from earthly dangers. From natural disasters, He alone can deliver us:

“God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah” (Psalm 46:1-3).

Let’s not confront the battles and fears in our life with a “plastic gun.”

From war and violence, and deadly disease, He alone can deliver us:

“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the LORD, ‘My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.’ For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler. You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness, nor the destruction that wastes at noonday. A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you” (Psalm 91:1-8 ).

And in the daily warfare against our own flesh and the devil, He alone can deliver us:

St. Paul describes the effective weapons that we have been given for spiritual warfare as the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. As we read about Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness, we see how He wielded the sword of God’s Word against the devil’s cunning temptations. How important it is to study and memorize the Word so it will not be a rusty weapon in our hands, but one we have lived with daily and know how to wield. Then Satan cannot trick us with “Did God really say…?” But more important, is abiding by faith in Jesus who is the Word, for in Him alone is our safety. 

Let’s not confront the battles and fears in our life with a “plastic gun.” Even the most sophisticated human weapons cannot shield us against the greatest dangers. Instead we have the One of whom St. Paul writes: “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom 8:38-39).

God says to us, “Fear Not. I am with you” (Isaiah 41:10). “I will never leave you or forsake you” (Heb. 13:5). In Christ, though we suffer, He is with us to comfort and sustain us; though we fall, He helps us arise; though all be against us, He is for us. He delivers us from the greatest danger of all: the eternal loss of fellowship with God because of our sins. By His death and resurrection we have forgiveness, reconciliation with God, and all who trust in Him have eternal life. In His Word and Sacrament He dwells with us, and for us. There is no other Saviour, no other Hope, no other Shelter. 

“Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God” (Psalm 20:7).

Peggy Pedersen is a Victoria-based writer and member of Redeemer Lutheran Church.

  • Sergey

    I just read it…FANTASTIC– THis one made me want to stand up and shout amen.