I have an incredible staff and were it not for them and the host of volunteers this great church would in no way achieve the success it experiences on a weekly basis. It’s sometimes as if I have to sneak about to try my hand at anything that resembles building maintenance or lawn care though, and perhaps for good reason. Only a few weeks ago I eyed out my office window a few weeds poking their nasty little heads through a crack in the sidewalk. It being a very nice day I thought to myself, self, even you can handle this! So I made my way unobserved to the supply room in the back of the building where I retrieved a bottle of weed spray. I pumped it up and headed out the back door to tackle the nuisance that those evil weeds were bringing to bear on the back parking lot. And spray I did! I was the worst nightmare those or any weeds have ever seen as I unleashed herbicidal havoc on every weed that dared poke its ugly little head above the pavement. Job well done I thought as I quietly slipped the container of weed killer back to its original location. Days later I looked with eagerness hoping to see the afore mentioned weeds choking and sputtering toward lifelessness but they seemed to be just fine, thriving even in spite of my heroic efforts at ridding the property of such riff raff. A week later I asked one of our crack staff if they would grab the weed killer and hit those pesky weeds in the parking lot again as “I bravely announced” I had done on my own last week! A kind sweet staff member named Cheryl quickly replied, I’d love to Pastor but we don’t have any weed killer. Oh we most certainly do I replied, I used it just last week! Uh, no Pastor I’m sure we don’t have any. Of course I had to walk with her back to the storage room just to prove to her that right there on the floor is a large container of… Bug Spray??? It seems as if in my eagerness to kill the weeds I overlooked the important fact that weed killer was a necessary component! I can assure you however that the weeds here at our church were bug free for the last week or so. Oh well, they’re sure to take my supply room keys now! The point is that to get the job done effectively you need the right tools, or spray in my case.
Pastor Paul eluded to that as he addressed the early church and encouraged them to fight the fight of faith the right way…You see, becoming and maintaining the important role God has entrusted to you takes God’s equipment! Listen to the paraphrase “The Message” by Eugene Peterson… “Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You’ll need them throughout your life. God’s Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out.”
Years ago and long before electronic communication there was a horrific train wreck on the East coast where many lives were lost as two commuter trains collided. The engineer of the train that hit the other who survived the crash was brought to court to testify on behalf of his part in the calamity… He was asked, “Did you not see the flagman warning you to stop?” He replied, “I saw him, but he waved a yellow flag, and I took it for granted all was well, and so went on, though slowing down.” The flagman was called, “What flag did you wave?” “A red flag, but he went by me like a shot.” “Are you sure it was red?” “Absolutely.” Both insisted on the correctness of their testimony, and it was demonstrated that neither was color-blind. Finally the man was asked to produce the flag itself as evidence. After some delay he was able to do so, and then the mystery was explained. It had been red, but it had been exposed to the weather so long that all the red was bleached out, and it was but a dirty yellow!
In so many ways today the truth of the scripture has faded to the point that no one recognizes its beauty or its warnings. How to live a God-honoring life is camouflaged by the incredible interest and focus on the temporary fixes of the moment rather than the eternal focus of the future. The tragedy of course is the collision of unprepared hearts finding themselves before a Holy God with the wrong flag in hand. Make sure you have the right tool for the job!