Not long ago I was watching and listening to my young grandsons playing, pretending as if they were shooting cannons. I was somewhat surprised that they were imagining using that kind of weaponry as opposed to more modern or even futuristic instruments of battle that many kids have become familiar with through TV and movies.
I asked them if they had ever seen any real cannons. When they responded that they hadn't, I told them about a place we needed to go sometime where they could see examples of such weapons.
Due to their enthusiastic response to that suggestion, this past week my wife and I took the boys over to the national battlefield at Kennesaw Mountain. While they were thrilled to get to see the cannons at the visitor's center, they were somewhat disappointed when we read them the signs stating that no children should be allowed to climb or sit on those particular objects. And for some reason that's exactly what kids want to do when they see one.
We tried to explain that the cannons were old and if everybody climbed on them they might break or wear out. However, before the day was over, in a more remote area of the park, we found a couple of cannons free from such restrictions. So we allowed the boys to sit on them long enough to get their picture made.
We also had to squelch their dreams to shoot the cannons, letting them know that those cannons might not function anymore or, even if they did, firing one off might do some damage or hurt someone. We explained that those cannons were just for display, not for shooting.
I think our grandsons had a good time, even though they had to settle for seeing cannons that were more like museum relics than fully functioning weapons.
Let's make sure that our faith and the spiritual weaponry God has provided for us don't fit that description. Our faith shouldn't just be a relic from the past. Neither should it be something that we simply pull out of a closet and dust off every once in a while. It's not meant to be merely a museum piece that we put on display for others to see.
Our faith is intended to be a fully functioning part of our daily lives. The Bible describes faith as a shield by which we can quench the fiery darts of the enemy of our souls (Ephesians 6:16). It protects us as we battle the everyday temptations, trials, and challenges of life. Faith isn't just something we possess; it's something we use to live victoriously.
The same holds true for other parts of our spiritual arsenal. For example, the Bible isn't meant to be relegated to a shelf only to have a verse pulled out occasionally for a word of inspiration or wisdom, like consulting a fortune cookie.
It's our authoritative guidebook on the journey of life. As a matter of fact that same passage in Ephesians describes the Word of God as "the sword of the Spirit." As we believe it and stand upon its promises, we are empowered to fight against Satan and to make headway in the work of God's kingdom.
And don't forget about prayer. And that's the problem -- too often we do forget about it. What a privilege we have to bring our requests to a great God who loves us and who can do what we can't do. He tells us to ask and He'll answer. But so often we fail to ask.
God has provided us with our spiritual cannons. Let's quit treating them like historical relics and start using them as the powerful instruments they are to help us win the battles of life.
The Rev. Tony W. Elder is pastor of Wesley Community Fellowship Church. He can be reached at 770-483-3405 or by email at RevTElder@aol.com.