A thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance.” John 10:10
It is an 8mm movie memory. Like so many families we had a home movie camera growing up. It is so much fun to go back and watch some of the ones that I have. One that I remember so well from my childhood days was a clip of my nephew Little Joe. As you can imagine, since there was a Little Joe, there must have been a Big Joe…and there was. He was one of my older brothers who is no longer with us, and he had a son we called Little Joe. Anyway, in one of the movies, it shows Little Joe, and he is wearing a full, miniature Army fatigue uniform. My big brother Joe had been in the Army, so it was only fitting to see Little Joe dressed like his dad.
In the film clip, Little Joe is marching like a soldier. Rigid…almost at attention as he marched, with his little face sternly looking at the camera…he looked the part. He was probably five which means all of this was a zillion years ago. Thinking of those days, I remembered, once again, how things have changed. When I was growing up, playing Army was a regular thing…and we took it seriously. We didn’t have uniforms, but we were armed to the teeth.
Our arsenal included two different kinds of bullets. First, there were those from the chinaberry tree. This tree produced hundreds, if not thousands, of green berries the size of small marbles. The other bullet came from an evergreen that grew in our yard. They were about the same size but had little pointy things. Both were plentiful and effective. We would fill our pockets and then head for the woods…hurling them at one another. But there was more.
We also had dirt clods. In those days, it seemed there was always construction going on around us and of course that meant digging and digging meant dirt clods. We would gather at a selected building site, divide into small teams, get behind a dirt pile and lob dirt “grenades” at one another. We would hurl and duck or duck and hurl and we had a blast except for when a clod hit us in head. Then, well, it wasn’t fun anymore.
Those building sites also provided a ready selection of pretend weapons…usually surveyor sticks. Some were long and made great swords and some were wedge shaped and made great machine guns. The effectiveness of the weapon depended on how good the sound effects were. We would play long, play hard and then come home dirty. Baths were essential and not optional.
Those days of playing army were some of the best memories of my childhood. Gratefully I was also privileged to serve twelve years in the real Air Force and those days, too, hold so many of my life’s special memories. But what I thought we should learn today is the fact that while playing army was fun when I was a boy, there is still a war going on today…and it’s not play. I am learning that there is a battle being waged for so many of the things that we value most in life. Not the least of these are our faith and families.
Whether you believe in the spirit realm or not, whether you believe in a God or a devil or not, you had better believe that there are things that want nothing more than to wage war against you and what you hold dear. Sometimes it is a spirit of mediocrity, sometimes it might be a busy lifestyle or perhaps it is a drive to own the things we drive, or live in, or wear. Perhaps it is a deluge of small things that when added up will cost us…and cost us dearly.
In the Christian New Testament, a young Jewish Rabbi and Messiah named Jesus spoke about a thief and what he does. Why not think for a few minutes what identities you might assign to this thief. Look at the things I wrote about above. Now listen to the rest of what Jesus said, “The thief comes to steal, kill and destroy.” There you go…boom.
Thieves steal but they can do more, much more, so we must be on guard. The good news is this is one battle we don’t have to face by ourselves. That same Messiah who defeated death and rose from the dead is ready, willing and able to help. All we have to is ask. One more thing. Don’t confuse Jesus with religion or even church. They might be related but the answer lies with the Man and nothing else. All we have to do is ask. He wants to help you guard what really matters and fight those life battles that are just too big for us on our own. No matter what we face, no matter the fight we can be sure that, “He’s got this.” Bro. Dewayne