Defending your faith is the second most popular topic for conferences for good christian teens (the first being keeping your pants on, of course). I can’t count the number of times someone has raised their Bible over their head and declared that THIS IS THE ONLY WEAPON WE NEED. How many times has it been noted to me that there is only one weapon in the armor of God, that there is nothing to protect our backs because we are not expected to run?
In Sunday School they called them sword drills. We used to hold the Bibles over our head and wait for the verse to be called out. We would rush to see who could flip open to the correct book, chapter, and verse first. Table of contents, pshh that was for beginners, we memorized the order of the books of the bible when we memorized our address and telephone numbers. I learned my weapon well.
Somewhere along the way we lost the line that the sword was only meant to be wielded against the devil and the lies that he tells us. Like giddy 8-year-olds with new plastic swords, we got excited to test out our new toys. We ignored the warnings of unity, gentleness, grace.
I have heard it said with a hammer in your hand, everything looks like a nail. I think of my teenage self, ready to do battle for God. I had in my hand a sword, and thus I could find my enemy everywhere. In my health teacher, my science book, my friends who believed but not the exact same way I did, on the secular radio stations. With a sword in my hand, what else would I see?
I have grown weary of the fencing Christians do with each other; borne witness to the blood spilled by these sessions. I have a few holy scars myself. When people are handed swords, they do battle. I long for a better way.
I have read in Isaiah, in Micah, in Joel, in the books of the prophets I learned the names and orders of so long ago, that God promised Israel he would turn their swords into ploughshares. I wonder if that promise could still be good today.
My heart is yearning for a time when we look at the tool in our hand and see it not as a weapon to wield at each other as we stand face to face, clash into each other. I long for the day when we see a tool; something we use as we walk beside each other, working the fertile ground at our feet into something productive and nourishing.
If we have ploughshares in our hands, could we help seeing promise in the land all around us? Would see each other as workers with the same goal, as partners in this world?
I long for the ancient promise to be true.
Lord, could you turn our swords into ploughshares?