Today at Bible Study I had the opportunity to reminisce about the time of my life when I lived in Panama, particularly about living under a Military Dictatorship. See, the year I was born, a Military Dictator grabbed power from the hands of the rightfully elected president, and him, his successors and his minions held on to the government until the United States invaded Panama to take them out…just a few months before I left Panama for good to come to live in the United States…-of course at the time I didn’t know it would be for good, but the Lord had other plans, and 25 years later, here I am…-
The thing is that remembering the repression and oppression we lived in Panama, especially during the last 5 years of the dictatorship, brought back memories of the fear and instability that the people of Panama experienced back then. I was a young adult, living in the big city at the height of the most turbulent times in our history, so I clearly remember the feeling of frightening uncertainty and the nervousness that plagued those who moved around the streets…trying to live their daily lives as best as they could, hoping better days were ahead.
After considering that part of my history I realized, however, that the fear I experienced back then is nothing compared to the fear that grows within a soul that doesn’t rely on God. The fear of concrete things that oppress us from the outside can be combated by concrete weapons that we can usually find in the material world. The fear that consumes us from within, however, the fear created by the voices that scream doom into our head…the fear of those abstract things that crawl into our mind and spirit, threatening to paralyze us and destroy us though…
How can we combat those? They are way too much and it often seems as if we are left to face a formidable enemy all alone…with just some sticks and a few stones…
Wait…where have I heard something like this before???
Wasn’t there a kid who wasn’t suited to be in the King’s army for being too young and weak, but who faced a Giant with a sling and handful of river stones? Yeah…I remember…while King Saul’s army in all its might stood there, paralyzed by this seemingly unconquerable beast, David, armed with the weapon of a spirit that fully trusts the Most High, beat Goliath with the shot of one smooth stone.
It wasn’t the stone that killed Goliath. It was God’s great power, made perfect in the weakness of one of His children what defeated the mocking foe.
The armies of the world, be them in the form of oppressive military regimes or of ungodly societies that seek to lead people into a life void of God, will fight to crush us, to conquer us, to defeat us, to manipulate us. And if we, like King Saul’s army, allow the frightful creations of our mind to cloud our vision to the point of paralysis, the result would be defeat. But if like David, we clear our heads, re-direct our thoughts, and focus on God, we would be able to hush the lies the enemy feeds into our brains, and win victory from the hands of our giants.
I don’t think David was reckless. I believe he was nervous. But I know the source of his resolve was that He just knew God will come through. And the beauty of this whole thing is that we, too, know! We know that no matter what tricks the enemy plays on us, we are victorious! We have the right weapons to combat the forces of the spiritual realm…the best weapons…the only weapons:
…be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
Ephesians 6: 10-17
I drove away from Bible Study this morning feeling a melancholic pinch caused by the memories of those days in my past...but I also felt a quiet voice whispering in my ears, "do not fear, I am with you now, I was with you before, and I will continue to be with you forever..." And that is my weapon, that is my smooth stone!