The Spirit is the One who gives life. The flesh doesn’t help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.” John 6:63
“Breach your weapons, lay them on the ground and put your hands on your head.” Fifteen words I didn’t think I would ever hear. As I’ve said before I was raised in Jacksonville, Florida. We lived out in the country and would often go hunting not too far from my home. We would also go shooting. What is shooting? Well, that is when you go somewhere and just waste ammunition. There was an old dump about four miles from my house and that was a favorite place to go shoot. There was an abundance of old bottles and cans there just waiting to give up the ghost.
When I was about nineteen, and in the Air Force, a couple of friends (who were in the Navy) decided to go shooting. We got in our cars and went to the old dump and preceded to start what sounded like World War III. We had rifles and shotguns and we were blasting away. Cans were flying and bottles were shattering and then without trying we all happened to empty our guns at the same time. There was a moment of silence and then we heard it.
It was that static noise when someone mashes the button on a public address system before beginning to speak. It was then that we heard those fifteen words—which I still remember to this day even though it was 48 years ago, “Breach your weapons, lay them on the ground and put your hands on your head.” Ok, two things almost happened at that moment. I almost died and I almost lost bladder control. I was scared to death. I had only been pulled over by the police once and I had never been arrested. I was certain that the Air Force would not like the fact that one of their ambassadors was arrested…especially on weapons charges.
So you have to be wondering, “What in the world was going? Didn’t you know better?” And the answer is “No.” You see, Jacksonville and Duval County had merged into one making it the largest city in the United States. That also meant that all the laws that applied to the city now applied to the county. Well, since it was against the law to discharge a weapon in the city limits, which now included the old dump, we were in deep weeds. You can imagine we did some tall explaining to the police officer. I am sure it included an appropriate amount of praying, begging and pleading. I imagine it also included the “we are serving our country” card too.
Well, somehow we got off the hook. I’m sure I explained that I was raised in the area and had gone shooting there a lot. I’m also sure I explained that we didn’t know about the law being changed. I’m also sure he said ignorance of the law was no excuse and made sure we understood that it had better never happen again. And do you know what? It didn’t. As far as my buddies and I were concerned, the old dump was safe and sound. At least this part of the Air Force and Navy were done.
I never forgot that lesson about ignorance of the law being no excuse. When I drive, and I am pretty much a rule follower, if I don’t know the speed limit, I settle at a speed that I know should be safely below what might be posted. I found out one time (and I’ll write about that another time) that it costs to break the law. And sometimes it can be pretty pricey. That is true for man’s law but it is also true for God’s laws.
You see, at one time or another, we have all broken one or more and probably many of God’s laws. We are just a rebellious bunch and there really is no excuse. We just sorta, kinda, like breaking laws. The Bible even says that. But here’s the deal—we forget one thing about laws. Generally speaking, laws are there for a reason—our protection. There is a reason why the speed limit isn’t 120 mph. There is a reason why you should wear your seatbelt. There is a reason why you shouldn’t jump from a cliff that says, “rocks below.” They are all there to keep you within the guardrails of life. I know, we think laws are there to make us miserable, and maybe that is true for the laws of man. But when it comes to God—well, obeying His laws means less regrets and fewer consequences. It means a better life.
Well, if you happen to be traveling through Duval County in Northeast Florida and you have the urge to go shooting…you might try a different county. Unless they changed their mind, it is still against the law. And if you find yourself being lured toward some moral disaster and away from what God says is right—breach your weapon, lay it on the ground and raise your hands in surrender. Not to a policeman, but to the God who loves you enough to help you get through life—with less regrets and fewer consequences. It might seem hard but if you choose to rest in Him you will find out that all things are possible. Yup…He’s got that too.