Monday, June 21, 2010

Lesson from a Shotgun . . .

I shared the following example recently with the fellowship I pastor in a series I am currently teaching on faith as our antidote to fear. I wanted to share it here as well . . .

When I was a Lieutenant in the U.S. Army I was a platoon leader of a Cavalry reconnaissance platoon. Shortly after the invasion of Panama in 1989 we shipped down there to do peacekeeping in the country (it was in need of it as we had dismantled much of their police and military, and criminal elements and remnants of Noriega's forces were running rampant in areas).

As an officer of a mounted unit (we had Humvees with machine guns on top) the only sidearm we were issued were 9mm pistols. This was the pre-Christian part of my life, and when another Lieutenant and I were uncomfortable with having only a pistol we got 12-Gauge shotguns to carry with us. The young men in my platoon would have fun teasing me about the shotgun, but when we went to a live fire training before deploying they watched it shred a hallway of cardboard targets. They still teased me about it . . . but it was funny because whenever we got in to a tight, dismounted situation in Panama I would look around and they were all hugging in close to the shotgun! In fact, in those situations, the shotgun became the weapon on point (in the lead), and everyone came in close behind it with their M16 rifles. (Today I thank God that I never had to use the shotgun on anything other than fake targets.)

I share this story for a reason. While the guys had fun teasing me about my shotgun—when things got scary and real they pulled in close to that shotgun because they had seen how awesome and powerful it was, and they had greater faith in it to take care of them than they did in their rifles. Prior to the live fire training we did, they probably wouldn't have had such faith in the shotgun—but after seeing what it did up close against the cardboard targets, they gave it the credit it was due, and as a result had great faith in it.

Romans 4:20-21 says of Abraham: No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. Abraham grew strong in his faith AS he gave glory to God. I believe this means that as he glorified God, as he exalted God, and as he focused on God's greatness and worthiness, it increased his faith to where he had more confidence in God than in physical circumstances around him. Why? I believe because the greater we see the object of our faith, the greater our faith in it will be.

For example, if we stood over the same 200' gorge on either a modern, 4-lane, concrete and steel suspension bridge, or on a 150 year old, frayed, rope bridge, our faith that we would stay safe would probably be dramatically different in the two separate situations. Why—it is the same gorge in both instances? The answer is, because the object our faith is in is different. The steel bridge gives us a lot of reason to have faith in it—the old rope bridge doesn't. Likewise, the men in my platoon had seen my shotgun compared to their rifles in an up close situation and found they had greater faith in the shotgun. You see, faith has an object . . . and the greater our confidence in that object, the greater our faith will be.

So, if Abraham, faced with something God said was going to happen that the world said was physically impossible, grew strong in his faith as he glorified God, might we also grow stronger in our faith as we practice intentionally worshiping and glorifying God—as we habitually exalt and lift Him up to the highest place of awe and power and glory in our life? It is not that God gets any bigger as we do that, we just get reminded at the forefront of our mind about how big and awesome He is. Then, as the object of our faith (God) "increases" (in our perception), our faith increases proportionately.

The more we worship God and His awesome, holy majesty, the more we remind ourselves how great God is, and the greater our confidence in Him will be compared to our confidence in the world, man's wisdom, national forecasts, etc. Go out and stare at the stars and remind yourself there are billions of them in a galaxy, and billions of galaxies, and that He breathes them out and knows them all by name and measures them with the span of His hand. Practice intentionally worshiping and giving glory to God—like Abraham, your faith and peace and confidence in God will increase as you do.

Note: The photo is of me in Panama with one of the local kids who asked if he could polish our boots to earn money. One of my greatest joys down there was getting to know the kids and practicing my Spanish on them while they practiced their English on me. On my days off I would go into the villages and hang out with them. They would often take me to their homes where I got to meet their families and share meals with them (I remember one home with no back door on it—the chickens came in and out and walked around us in the house while we ate!). I truly fell in love with the people of that country, and view my time there as one of the best times in my life.


  1. Thank you, Erick. I sense that God may have a big change in store for me in the near future -- but I don't know what that is yet. I want to be where God wants me to be, doing what God wants me to do. But when I'm not sure where and what that is, I need reminders like this one. God is more concerned about my being in His will than I am, and He is big enough and smart enough to find a way to get His desire for me through to me.

  2. Another comment: I have several friends who are in 12-step programs and have placed their faith in their Higher Power, a nebulous term referring to whatever the person is comfortable with. Perhaps God had you write this and me read this to prepare me to help lead one or more of those friends away from their rickety rope bridge to the Bridge of Life. Pray that it be so.

  3. Replies
    1. Thanks, Danny. God bless you and the family. May we each point each other to worshipping Him more than anything else.


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