I have not watched the news now for nearly three weeks. You would think that I would be blissfully unaware of all that has happened in that short time. Instead, I feel as if I am in the ring with the heavyweight champion of the world being pummeled. Sucker punch after sucker punch in the gut, and I am in the corner just trying to maintain my footing. My arms are in a defensive mode with one over my face, the other protecting my torso…where my spirit lives. The latest attack takes me down to the mat, in the fetal position, bunched up crying out, “Stop! Please just stop!!” I want to hold my ears, but that would mean exposing the rest of my body to more violence and so I cannot.
Instead, I hear the cacophony of voices screaming in the crowd. The media is stirring the pot so that it boils over beyond the television boxes on the walls and into the streets. The crowd is writhing with bloodlust like Romans in the Coliseum. Also in the din, are the politicians yelling at one another, each with an agenda that is unacceptable to the masses, and yet multitudes are jumping into the fire…fueling it even…that the media has started. The frenzy continues as hate groups rise up to kill one another. They rage with words meant to incite heinous actions against humanity, while Christians preach love and arm themselves to kill. The church leaders jump in bed with the politicians, as ISIS takes down another city. A coup of a country divided, ups the death toll that grows daily around the world. Chaos rules. Darkness comes calling…loudly.
Tongues have become swords. They strike each other down. They spew poison with each blow. They stab, slicing up hearts and piercing the spirits of anyone who opposes them. Tongues roll with words intended to be weapons of mass destruction, wrapped up in a meme phrase or a comment thread. All of this, I hear from my balled up position on the mat where the violence and loss of life are wreaking havoc on my spirit. Add to my predicament that I have had little to no time to write in the past three weeks and I feel as if I am going to explode. The image of a massive sword fight at a boxing match will not leave my thoughts until I climb out of my bed in the wee hours and put pen to paper.
Amidst the words and the images they create, I hear another voice. It is familiar to me. A song among the dissonance. I become still and strain my ears to hear. My heart leaps as it recognizes the song of love I have heard many times before. All is not lost if He is here. On the contrary, my spirit is revived and begins to breathe again in his presence. The noise around me does not cease, it actually increases and grows more vicious as he approaches. He speaks, but no one in the crowd is listening. This does not deter him. He says, “Put down your sword.” No one hears.
I think back to the story of Peter, who in defense of the Lord, takes up a sword in a garden. His anger and self-assurance that the Son of God needs defending, pushes him forward to cut off the ear of a servant. Jesus quickly intervenes, and puts the ear back on. (I love that part…where he heals and shows us that the man is not actually his enemy after all.) Then he admonishes Peter, “All who live by the sword will die by the sword. Put your sword back in its place.” He proceeds to allow the soldiers to take him to his death, without even defending himself.
It occurs to me then as I pull myself up to my feet, that tongues are swords. That words are weapons. I may not be able to control the madness of the opponent who towers over me. I may not be able to stop ISIS, or coups, or riots in the streets, or corruption in the government, or any other thing that is going on in the world around me, but I can control my words. I can heed his words, to “Put down your sword.” Will you join me?