I would give everything to protect my kids, my husband and those I love. For many years, I didn’t realize that instinct was in me. The idea of having a gun scared me, and I was always uneasy when in the presence of one. That didn’t necessarily go over well with my husband who is a protector by nature, and having served as a Ranger in the Army was an advocate of the 2nd amendment. One day when our oldest daughter was a few months old, I came to an almost complete stop to let someone into traffic ahead of me. Nice gesture right? The person in traffic behind me didn’t feel the same way. He started to beat on his dashboard while screaming at me. I couldn’t hear what he was saying, but the message came across loud and clear. He followed me to the apartment complex where we lived … still screaming. I waited for the gate to close behind me so that he couldn’t follow, and breathed a sigh of relief that my daughter and I were safe, at least that’s what I thought.
While getting everything out of the car, I saw his car come in behind someone else, and I started a mad dash to get into the apartment. I was running for safety. As soon as I had laid my baby on the floor, the man was beating on the door screaming every profanity I had ever heard, and was threatening to kill us. He had lost any bit of control he possessed and had succumbed to rage. Without thinking, I grabbed the shotgun (the one that I didn’t want to have in the house to begin with) and I flung open the door as I racked the slide. It’s amazing how hearing that sound effects people. The man who had been in a complete rage for 20 minutes had lost the capability to speak and control of his bladder at the same time. He left rather suddenly, and thankfully no harm was done to any of us. In that experience, I was forced to re-evaluate my viewpoint about self-defense.
The fear of guns has been replaced with an enjoyment of shooting them. It’s a serious stress reliever! I have an understanding of where and why some feel the need to protect. I also understand why some don’t. I’ve been on both sides. As I read today’s scripture, I completely identify with Peter cutting off the ear of the servant. Someone he loved was in danger, and his instinct was to protect. I can’t imaging that out in the garden Peter would have just acquired the sword he held, but rather that it was something that he had with him at all times. You don’t have the skill needed to cut off an ear if you have never wielded a sword. So, Jesus would have known that at the very least Peter was armed the whole time, but there aren’t any teachings about him telling the disciples to outlaw them. However, in this situation, Peter is told to put down his sword.
Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.) Jesus commanded Peter, “Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?” Then the detachment of soldiers with its commander and the Jewish officials arrested Jesus. They bound him and brought him first to Annas, who was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest that year. Caiaphas was the one who had advised the Jewish leaders that it would be good if one man died for the people.
It was time for Jesus to enter into His destiny. He didn’t resist it, he embraced it. On the heals of being reprimanded about being bold enough to charge the enemy, Peter finds himself facing a much greater enemy that he wasn’t equipped to fight. He came face to face with his own self-preservation. In fear he retreated. The same man willing to battle the enemy, fearless and bold, becomes someone unwilling to stand for truth, afraid and cowering. Yet through it all, Jesus remains in control, taking one step at a time closer to his crucifixion. Even when given the opportunity to defend Himself, Christ chooses to allow the path to be directed by the Father … regardless of where it would lead.
I think that many times, I would be more like the Peter in the garden, ready to charge the enemy in my life. But I don’t think that we need to fight the situations or circumstances in our lives every time. Yes, there are times when it’s appropriate but only when it’s God directed. How often is our urge to defend simply a reflection of us wanting to win rather than doing what is good and just? How many marriages are afflicted with the overwhelming circumstances of life, yet they attack each other instead of attacking the problem? And then, if you get rebuked to go in a different direction, how often do we simply retreat and stop all participation in that area?
Our actions must be God-directed. How are we to know when it’s appropriate to stand up to defend? Or, more importantly, when we should drink the cup prepared for us in obedience? I believe there are many opportunities in my life that I attacked instead of allowing the path to unfold. I have no idea how many times I have thwarted God’s purpose in my life because of responding in aggression instead of acceptance. Maybe the focus of our hearts and mind should remain on God alone, and the work of building the kingdom.Read Day 15 Devotion by Scott