THE STUB OF A SWORD
Last night I received a phone call from a dear missionary to Bolivia who had just arrived home for his first furlough. It was so good to hear his voice and reminisce about how being a missionary in a Third World country changes one’s perspective when you come home on furlough. There is sense of being “torn” between your birth home and you’re new adopted home where your heart and God has called you to minister.
During our conversation I was lamenting how much I miss those busy, thriving days on the Mission field and how I was struggling to adjust to this last chapter of my life where I don’t have the physical strength or stamina to “blaze a trail” on foreign soil . My dear friend reminded me that I might not be in the rough and tumble of the battle but even in my old age I was “still fighting the battle” just from a different vantage point. Our conversation got me thinking about the countless “warriors in the Lord’s army” who have given their all but are still fighting even though their sword is worn down to a stub.
I began to research the lives of great warriors who never gave up even though their weapons were worn to the stub. Come walk with me through the lives of some great warriors who never gave up.
The famous evangelist, Billy Sunday, preached in his heyday to great multitudes all over America. Before the age of microphones and amplifiers, he shouted at the thousands in his big tabernacles. Then he grew old and times changed. His crowds were smaller. The multitudes went after other attractions. But Billy Sunday was faithful to his charge to the very last. In his cracked voice he preached the same old gospel until his last sermon in Mishawaka, Indiana. Gone was the vigor of his prime. Gone were the crowds. Billy’s weapons were worn and broken but he finished the fight with “the stub of a sword,” until God called him Home.
The Apostle Paul is another prime example;
He was faithful to the FAITH…….. faithful to the FIGHT…….. and faithful to the FINISH.
Battling with the stub of a sword is a MARK of a true soldier in God’s army.
It is not too difficult to fight well when the freshness of the cause thrills us and the exhilarations of life are full and strong. When we are at the peak of our usefulness, appreciated and seeing the fruit of our labors, our armor unbroken, our weapons keen, we tingle with the zest of combat and are truly anxious for the fray.
But age and disease and changing times will take their toll and we may finish with only the stub of a sword.
How we make that last chapter the best in the book; how we finish the course with joy; how we defeat the enemy with broken weapons is one of life’s last and finest lesson!
Paul incarcerated in a Roman prison is the outstanding New Testament example of this glorious achievement.
The old warrior has had a great ministry. He has planted the gospel in great world centers. Now, old and frail, instead of resting in pensioned retirement; he suffers in a damp old prison. His friends have left him. In this last chapter of his life he simply asks for his cloak and parchments.
One would have expected the greatest preacher of his time to have a more comfortable sunset hour.
Instead he is reduced to the stub of a sword……….. but with that stub he writes epistles that are God-breathed and that bless us to this day.
I assure you my friends; the preaching, the music, the literature of the church through the centuries would be sadly impoverished if we left out the warriors who continues to fight with broken weapons!
You will be surprised if you check on how much of the Lord’s battle is being fought today by soldiers with the stub of a sword. It is not the healthy, vigorous, well-equipped, or the be-medaled generals who are winning all the victories. Right in our churches and communities some of the noblest exploits in spiritual warfare are wrought by crippled and handicapped souls; through whose weakness God’s strength is being made perfect.
If this little Nugget finds you with a broken weapon; TAKE HEART. You are in illustrious company.
The battle is the Lord’s and He asks only that we be faithful to the end.
Now is the time to prove your mettle and endure hardness as a good soldier. What matters most is NOT the condition of your equipment but the STATE of your heart.