First, this post is a little bit outside the norm. This one is my personal muddling through an issue I never thought I’d be muddling through.
Second, in no way whatsoever am I attempting to tell or suggest what YOU should do in this particular matter. There is no black or white here. It’s certainly caused some lively debate lately, and I have no problem with sharing of opinions in the comments. I encourage that! Please just be courteous and remember. your opinion is your truth, and another is their truth. Be respectful.
It’s no secret the media wants to play up the “fear” angle of almost everything they can, and the Syrian Refugee crisis has seemingly played into their hand. This has brought up a lot of gun talk in the scope (no pun intended!) of defending yourself and your family, due to the possibility of terrorists sneaking in with refugees (and terrorism in general).
But none of that made me think for even a moment about the need to defend myself or get a weapon. Prior to last month, the only time I ever considered it (for about ten minutes) was when I moved from California to Texas, because everybody in Texas has a gun. (That’s not really true, but almost!)
But just about 5 weeks ago, my comfortable, safe, routine world was shattered. I’ll try not to take too much time on this, but I have to give God all the glory He deserves here. I live alone, with two cats who think they’re humans. I was sound asleep when I was awakened by a loud noise that I couldn’t describe. Then nothing. This woke me from a dead sleep, so I was a little dazed. Within maybe 20 seconds my cats (who were on my bed with me) FREAKED OUT so I grabbed my phone and dialed 911 and within 5 seconds there was a man with a flashlight standing in the doorway of my bedroom saying something to me which, to this day I cannot remember, except it ended with “b*tch”. And I pray regularly that God continues to block that from my mind. But just at the moment the 911 operator picked up and I screamed into the phone. He left. As it turns out, the police told me, there were two people, based on two distinct footprints on my front door. That was the noise, the door being kicked in. I have NO DOUBT that God protected me. I have dealt with some crazy anxiety since then, but God has been SO FAITHFUL I can’t even tell you without taking an hour. He has brought people to minister to me, my church family has been amazing, and He keeps speaking peace into me in a time when my head wants to believe anything BUT peace. So that sets the stage.
You can imagine after that how many times people told me I needed to get a gun. (Did I mention I live in Texas?!) I couldn’t get away from it. I would spend a lot of time thinking about it, researching them, playing out scenarios in my mind. I went to a gun range to shoot (I’ve done it before, I’m not anti-gun), but all of that just wrapped me up in knots. As time went on, those you’d think they’d get looser, but no, they just tightened up every time the gun topic came up.
Now, again let me say, this is MY conclusion for ME. Not you. This is based on MY time with the LORD. Not what I think scripture says is black and white. It’s what, in my quiet time with God, I believe we have decided is right for me.
I’m not going to get a gun.
Here’s my main reason. I don’t know if I can take a life. Even if I’m being threatened. I know there are some who will think that’s the dumbest thing they’ve ever heard. But I don’t know that I can take a life under any circumstances. We, all of us, are His image bearers. Even those jerks who broke down my door. Even the people who sit on death row. Even the tiny humans some consider an inconvenient pregnancy to just deal with. Every life is valuable to God. I just don’t know that I can take one.
I still have some PTSD-like symptoms I deal with and when some intrusive thoughts come on, one of the things I sometimes remind myself of is what Paul wrote to the church at Philippi, “For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” That’s comforting to me, even when I think about my life being taken in a violent way. (Hey, Paul wasn’t looking at riding off into the sunset to die at the old folks home of old age, either.) I don’t spend a ton of time thinking about (but more than I used to, to be perfectly honest) confronting death at the hands of another. (Welcome to my new world!) As with all of the anxiety based responses my brain is throwing at me these days, I have two choices. One is to give in immediately to what the flesh wants to do and think, and the other is to run to Jesus and hold on. We can talk about anxiety another time, but I choose Jesus, even when that means I’m running to him while the anxiety is tearing through my brain. So if I’m choosing Jesus, I choose to rest on his promises. And he promises that all of this world is going to pass away. My house, my safety zone, all the things that make me feel safe and secure. And it’s nothing, NOTHING compared to what’s to come. Including this life I have now. So if I say this too nonchalantly, it’s just my trust in that promise when I say, I’ll take my chances and leave the rest to God.
I also know that every life, no matter how corrupt it looks, is not beyond the redeeming power of the shed blood of Christ. What if I took that chance away from somebody? What if I could be planting a seed?
Do you know the story of the missionary Jim Elliot and the Huaoroni tribe of Ecuador? Jim and team of missionaries were determined to bring the gospel to this unreached tribe deep in the jungle. They had met with the tribe peacefully, but on one meeting, for reasons unknown, something went wrong. Now the missionaries were armed with guns, but when confronted with the angry tribesman, they chose not to use the guns in self-defense. All five were killed. Why, do you suppose, they chose not to defend themselves when their very lives were clearly on the line? I have a pretty good guess. These gentleman had gone in laying the groundwork and sharing the gospel of the love of Christ. Had they shot their attackers. there would have been little chance the gospel would be preached any further to that tribe. (As an aside, two of the missionaries’ wives, Elliot’s and another, eventually made peaceful contact with the tribe, lived among them for a couple of years and converted many to Christianity. God has a plan for everything, boys and girls. Everything.)
One final thought, and then I have church bulletins to fold. In the aftermath of my incident, I just wanted to feel secure and comfortable in my space again. I thought a gun would do that. Along with increased security and several other things. And one day the LORD reminded me that HE is the only absolute safety and security we have, and anything else I do, while good and helpful, is not the ultimate security, HE is, and I need to put my trust in Him. The same for my comfort.
I have purposely left out scriptures to back up my decision because I’m not trying to win arguments or plead a case here. Again, this is not about that. You do what YOU feel you need to do. Just please do it responsibly! But I will leave you with this:
My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
But for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all your works. (Psalm 73:26, 28)