The Big Stick

A boy with a big stick

The Sword of the Spirit

Here's the crazy story of what happened as I jogged through the park one day. It happened to be in a wooded section where there were many twists and turns, hills and inclines. I was "feelin' it," and I must admit that I was moving pretty fast, at least for me. It felt as though I had the entire park to myself, but then again, I wasn't paying much attention. With each step, the trail was becoming more technically difficult. I didn't want to stumble and break my neck.

All of a sudden, I came across a mother with two small children who were coming from the opposite direction. The older of the two boys, who I estimated to be about eight-years-old, was the first to see me coming down the trail. He stood there motionless, almost paralyzed. Then he let out a startling scream. In a fraction of a second, the mother and the youngest son looked up and saw me descending the hill. They were frightened too. To this day I can't imagine what it was about 200 lb., little ole me that created such a shock.

I felt awkward at first, but then I noticed that the little boy had a rather large stick in his hand. The stick was about as big as he was. In that instant, I calculated that I was taller and weighed more than the little boy. I was probably as formidable to him as Goliath was to David, but somehow that analogy failed to give me much comfort.

Time stood still, and in one brief moment I experienced a flashed back to an event that happened a few years earlier. I remembered taking my son Patrick to a batting cage when he was eight. After we ran out of quarters and the machine stopped pitching balls, I wanted to teach my man child how to swing the bat correctly. The only problem was that I needed to get in front of him to diagnose what he was doing wrong. So I ignored the bold print on the signs that read, "Danger: Don't Pitch In The Batting Cage." Obviously, those rules didn't apply to me. I looked around to see if anyone was watching. Feeling certain that I wouldn't get caught, I lobbed a few balls to my son.

The next part is rather embarrassing, but I'll throw it out there for the whole world to read anyway. Like an idiot I stood too close. I also had the misfortune of realizing that my son had more strength than I thought. The ball connected with the bat on the very first pitch. There was a "crack" sound, the kind that you hear when you know that there's going to be a homerun. Though I never saw the ball hit me, I remembered two things from that occasion: First, needing oxygen; and second, the welt that developed around my belly button, which of course, was the perfect size of a baseball.

So I'm back at the park running through the trees toward this frightened eight-year-old kid who's holding a big stick, and recalling how that baseball felt when it plunged into my navel. I did the smartest thing that I knew to do. I stopped dead in my tracks. There was no way that I was going to come anywhere close to that kid with the big stick. I had learned my lesson.

There's a spiritual truth here. We need to realize that we have a big stick that frightens the Devil every day of the year. It's called the sword of the Spirit, or the sword of the Word. It causes him great pain. He hates to hear the Word of God. It speaks to his defeat on Calvary and his future in Hell--two things that send him away howling. You may feel small compared to him, but he's afraid of you when you unsheathe that sword. His navel is still tender from the resurrection.

Eph 6:13, 17 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand… Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. (NIV)

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James Shupp, Lead Pastor of The Movement Church of San Antonio