Last week I opened my email to find a death threat. Whether this was spam or the real deal is yet to be determined.
The officer asked if I owned a gun and suggested I might want to keep it handy and be aware of my surroundings. These words sent me scurrying to the closet to pull out my Smith & Wesson. I loaded the pistol with bullets my husband had stored all these years.
Realizing we were low on ammunition, I let my fingers-do-the-walking in an attempt to find replacement ammo. A number of calls later I located a store and told the clerk I’d see them first thing next morning.
I tucked the weapon into a safe hideout and crawled in bed for what I hoped would be a good night’s sleep. Before closing my eyes, I asked God to keep me safe through the night. My gun was loaded. I knew how to use it. I was prepared.
Early next morning I loaded myself and the revolver into the car and headed for the gun shop. And to be honest, a little concerned. I had never been in a gun shop and didn’t know what to expect. But walked in like I knew what I was doing and handed my gun to the man behind the counter, informing him it was loaded. Just wanted to be sure I bought the right bullets.
He emptied the chamber, held the bullets out and said, “Mrs. Gates, if you are going to shoot someone you’d best be sure you have real bullets, these are just for target practice. You’d make someone mighty angry if you’d shot ‘em with these.”
I gulped as the bullets slid from his hand into mine. And I stared down at the silver and gold cartridges. They looked real. They fit in the gun’s chamber. They smoked when fired and the cartridge shot deep in the ground when I pulled the trigger yesterday afternoon. Yet they weren’t real? My confidence and preparation cracked like a sheet of thin ice. Into very small slivers.
I thought I had a powerful means of protection. But I was uninformed. Powerless. Deceived.
The shells were fake. And using these fake shells would probably have caused me greater harm in the event of a break-in.
After allowing this new found truth to sink in for a moment, I was grateful I didn’t know the night before I had sissy-bullets. Wouldn’t have slept a wink. Would you?
We laughed. Well, kinda. I made my purchase of the right stuff, and left for home. But I drove home asking myself how many other things in my life looked real but were powerless to protect me? Just like those fake cartridges.
A six figure life insurance policy? A large bank account? A portfolio full of stocks and bonds? My name on a church roll? Or perfect attendance at church—Sunday after Sunday?
Financial assets can be swept away in a single market crash. And my name on the roll of the local church and perfect attendance means nothing without a personal, trust filled relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. Without obedience to His Word. And without love for all my brothers and sisters in Christ.
I can sit in church clothed in my Sunday’s best. I can maintain a loving expression pasted on my face. I can even appear to be hanging on every word the pastor utters. But the litmus test? What’s going on in my heart. Worship of the Lord God Almighty or worship of the idol of self?
Am I depending on a sissy faith, a spiritless faith, a powerless faith to see me through the trials of this life and into the kingdom to come? No wonder fifty percent of the folks want nothing to do with religion.
Religion is like target practice bullets—smoking and loud but always missing the mark. Faith and trust in the blood of Jesus Christ is the only true power to save us now and in the days and ages to come.
In that day when I stand before the righteousness of God and He holds the fragments of my life in His hands will the evidence of my faith be fake or real? Will my name be written in The Book of Life? Has my life on earth given testimony and honor, fruit of the Spirit, to the Lord Jesus Christ or to the gratification of self?
Standing in the presence of God will He recognize His Spirit in me or will He say:
“Many will say to Me on that day, Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles? And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness’” (Matthew 7:21-22 NAS).
Last week I had the opportunity to replace those powerless gun shells for the real deal. In that day it will be too late—no opportunity to exchange a deception for The Truth.
What are you relying on for protection?
The blood of the Lord Jesus Christ is the only real salvation, now and in the kingdom to come. God’s Passover Lamb is waiting to exchange your sin for His righteousness. He is waiting to pour out His mercy and grace over you, in spite of who you are, where you’ve been, or what you’ve done. And He is waiting to fill you with the power of His Spirit so that you will know He is God.
Now and forever. He’s the only deal. The real deal.
“Come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord our Maker. For He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture, and the sheep of His hand. Today, if you would hear His voice. Do not harden your hearts…”(Psalm 95:6-7 NAS).