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Pray With Passion & Carry Your Gun

02/13/2011

Have you ever noticed that sometimes life seems to swing us from one extreme to another? Life can be polarizing. Sometimes one extreme seems to be the best option, other times the exact opposite seems best. Yet, there area also times where the truth rests between two poles and finds its greatest strength in the tension of fighting off two extremes.

I have been wrestling with such an issue as I’ve been reading through 1&2Samuel. I have been moved by the sense of calling that David felt. He was a patient leader who was willing to rest on Gods timing and for Gods perfect plan. There were times where he was able to take matter into his own hands, but it seems that he found the strength of character to wait upon the Lord. In a simple reading it would be easy to assume that David was drawn the the extreme of being “Led” by the Lord.

Yet I also find David drawing up his sword for battle and being willing to do the hard physical work necessary to deliver Gods people from their oppressors. He is a mighty warrior who is not scarred to take up the sword and fight. A casual reading of his life could lead one to believe that David was also drawn to the extreme of taking matters “into his own hand”.

Yet I think the truth in the life of David rests between the poles of two extremes.

When I was in Israel last year I was amazed at the magnitude of it all. The sights, the history, and the overwhelming sense of meaning in “The Land”. As we toured the nation I was also taken by how many armed citizens I saw in the streets. It seemed that everyone in Israel was packing. The taxi drivers, the cafe barista, even the school teachers were strapped. In fact, we saw a group of young students (Jr. High Age) in En Gedi and there were two men with the class carrying automatic weapons. I was curious so I asked one of them why they were armed. He mentioned that terrorist attacks are usually taken on easy targets and schoolchildren are easy targets.

I had to stop and think about that for a moment… children? Targets? Then you come to grips with the sobering reality that the people of Israel are a people of arms. They have no choice but to protect themselves from their enemies. In fact, every woman serves in the military for two years (18-20) and every man for three (18-21). They are required to serve for one month out of the year as a reserve. The primary Israeli military strategy (other than pre-emtive defensive attacks) is to have the active military hold off an attack for 24 hours until the entire nation can be called upon as reserves. The people take great pride in the fact that they are a nation of arms on 11 month leave.

I was fasciated to find that their is an exclusion to serving in the IDF (Israeli Defense Force). Come to find out that the Orthodox Jews do not have to serve in the military. I was curious about this and asked why not? I was told that their serving is the study and obedience to Torah. They were the ones who prayed while the nation took up arms. Their act of service or duty to their country was to carry on the traditions and pray for almighty God to bring Shalom (peace) to the city. While were were gathered at the Western Wall we saw a young man putting on phylacteries and joining others in prayers for his people. It was moving to see the youth following in the traditions of their fathers and serving their country and the Lord through their prayers.

So it seemed that the Orthodox Jews sat at one pole. They prayed, sought the Lord, and waited upon Him for deliverance and guidance. The rest of the nation sat at the other pole. They served, trained, and prepared for imminent attack at all times. One took up the position of the “called” and the others took up “the fight”.

I thought again about David and his example and I realized that the Mighty King didn’t fit on either side. He didn’t practice one or the other exclusively, but with most cases of polarity, he was somewhere in the middle.

While we were at the Western Wall I snapped one more picture that I think would make the mighty King David proud. I don’t know who this young man is, and I don’t know his story, but he quickly became my hero in Israel. Here was a young man who understood the importance of both extremes. He is dressed in his IDF issued uniform. He is carrying his automatic weapon. He is clearly trained and prepared for whatever crisis may arise. Yet he also is wearing his kippah in reverence to God and is praying for the Shalom of the city. As I watched this man pray with passion, I was struck by the beautiful tension that he was living in. As I watched him I also wondered if that is what the great King was like. Pray with passion, and carry your gun!

For me… it helped me think about the way that I do life a bit differently. I can pray, seek the Lord, and wait upon Him. But there are times where I have to fight (by faith) lead (by faith) and press on (by faith) knowing that God honors a yielded heart in a person of action.

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  1. 02/13/2011 at 5:27 pm

    keep writing keep writing keep writing

  2. Rich
    02/22/2011 at 12:49 pm

    How exactly are these Orthodox Jews praying to the Lord when they have rejected (and continue to reject and blaspheme) the Lord, Jesus Christ? In truth, they are just as lost and without hope as a Muslim, Buddhist, or atheist. There is only one name under heaven by which men must be saved, one mediator between God and man, Jesus Christ.

    • 03/20/2011 at 10:01 am

      No question, but don’t miss the point of the post. I’m not trying to speak into their theology or views of the messiah. I’m merely making the point that we ought to be a people who both pray and act.

      Though there are many today who are promoting a universalist salvation, that is not my position.

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