Turn to our greatest protector of all

Published 12:06 am Monday, January 8, 2018

“Behold, God is with us at our head, and His priests with their battle trumpets to sound the call to battle against you… and they cried to the Lord, and the priests blew the trumpets…and the men of Judah prevailed, because they relied on the Lord.” —  2 Chronicles 13:12-18

We had been in friendly conversation most of the night when suddenly, the conversation turned unexpectedly. I was defending myself to someone I knew wasn’t going to fully listen or understand my beliefs.

“Wait, so you’re telling me you can’t have a gun at all?  Doesn’t that make you nervous?  How can people trust you to keep them safe if you don’t have a gun?”

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“How powerful was Jesus with his words, yet never carried a weapon?  He was a constant reminder of hope, security, and peace without carrying an assault rifle – therefore, I don’t need to either as a Chaplain.  I am a reminder of peace and security, a safe place.”

This comment didn’t go over well, especially with his wife sitting next to him.  At this point, when you run into someone this opinionated about guns, it’s better to let them “get the last word” so the conversation can move on.  For the given situation, that’s all I could do.

I have the privilege to serve as a United States Air Force Chaplain.  As a Chaplain, I am put into a status along with doctors, nurses, and lawyers known as “non-combatant.”  What does that mean?  It means I can’t carry a firearm or ever be issued one, even on the battlefield.  Is this nerve-racking?  Does it cause paranoia?  I’m sure if I’m ever deployed, of course, it will.  How in the world can I serve in the military and not carry a gun?  Here’s how:  I don’t rely on guns for my ultimate source of safety and protection, I rely on the Lord.  In 2 Chronicles 13, during a civil war between Israel of the North and Judah of the South, King Jeroboam of Israel and King Abijah of Judah (a descendant of Solomon) go to war.  Abijah had 400,000 troops, while Jeroboam 800,000.  If you were a betting man, you’d easily be in favor of Jeroboam winning the battle, since his army doubled the size of Abijah’s.  However, Abijah had two things Jeroboam did not:  1) Priests serving as emotional and physical encouragers, who blew their battle trumpets to evoke courage and bravery; 2) He relied on the Lord as his source of strength, protection, and hope – nothing or no one else!  “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God,” Psalm 20:7.  In the end, verse 20 tells us that “Jeroboam did not recover his power in the days of Abijah.  And the Lord struck him down, and he died.”  Abijah and his “non-combatants”, the priests, were out on the front lines with everyone else, yet had no swords and fully trusted in the Lord — that’s what brought victory.

We’ve entered 2018.  What are you trusting in for your ultimate source of peace, hope, and protection?  Is it yourself?  Is it a firearm?  Is it those bars of gold or stock certificates you’ve safely stowed under your bed?  I’m a fan of guns, like many of us are in the South, but I don’t need one to feel safe.  I’m not suggesting that you go and put yourself in a dangerous situation but as Christians, we’re called to be brave, courageous, and zealous encouragers by serving the Lord and each other!  When we trust in other things, it’s easy to forget that our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, is the greatest protector of all. Turn to Him this year for security and nothing else.  Jesus reminds us in Matthew 28: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me.”

Please pray for Roberta, Vivian, and me as I head to Air Force training for six weeks.
Seth Duhs is the pastor at New Covenant Presbyterian Church.