Saturday night, I was at Food Lion in Statesville, where I work as an office assistant. My work in the office was briefly caught up and I found myself at the checkouts, helping load carts with groceries and talking to customers. My favorite customers that night were two little boys, riding in one of our race car carts. (These have the kids sitting at the same height as the child seats in a regular shopping cart.). I stopped to talk to them. We high-fived, the little one reached out to hold my hand and their dad had them flex their muscles and say ‘Murica for me. After a few minutes, I reluctantly told them I had to go back to work and they headed out the door with their dad. I walked back to the office with a smile on my face, looking forward to the next time I would see the little guys. The next day, I discovered that I would never high-five my new friends again. Just hours after leaving our store, those boys were dead of gunshot wounds, at the hand of their drunken father.
I now know their names were Uriah and Josiah. They were 4 and 3. And my heart is broken.
There aren’t many details being released about this case yet, but I’m sure there will be. As those details emerge, so too will folks opinions on how to prevent this again. We will hear gun control rhetoric from both sides. We will have people speaking out against alcohol consumption, declaring the evils of strong drink. But those people will be wrong. Yes, those things contributed, but the didn’t cause the problem. It’s a heart condition.
We live in a wicked cruel world. The Bible tells us that things we only get worse, until Jesus comes back. Satan has been allowed to roam the earth freely, along with his demons. Together, they are busily wreaking havoc. 2 Timothy 3:1-5 says, “But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. 2 For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, 4 treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these.” If that doesn’t describe the world we love in, then I don’t know what does. Satan and his demons have such a stronghold now and so few people seem to know true spiritual warfare, that even Christians are falling by the wayside, blinded, deceived and confused by satan and his ilk.
(You know those are my two favorite words!)
God had given us power to fight. I talk about it a lot. Spiritual warfare. The devil and his demons are very real beings. And we, as followers of Christ, have been given authority over demons. Ephesians 6:10-18a says, “10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. 14 Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit.”
In addition to the knowledge that battles are spiritual, not truly between people, God, through Jesus, has also given us the two greatest commandments. 1) Love God 2) Love each other.
So. What does that mean in practical terms? I think it means we should pray without ceasing (1 Thes 5:17). Love God with all that is within us. (Deut 6:5-9). And love everyone we meet with the agape love that can only come from God. For it is by our love that God will be made known to man. (And to little boys, riding in race car shopping carts.)
Be blessed and tell someone you love them.