When I was a young child, I had an interesting experience I would like to share that I hope will encourage you. I really didn’t know the Lord like I do now and like all 5-year-olds, was easily influenced by events in my daily life.
I was a kindergartener and lived a short two block walk from the grade school I attended. I enjoyed kindergarten school, my teacher and of course all the students in my class. What my teacher taught me back then helped my ability to learn and find something new each day for the rest of my life
One of the things I learned from those kindergarten days was the presence of danger in every day life. We used to have air drills about every other month it seemed in those days, in the early 1950s where we lived in Eastern Washington. The air drills were especially frightening for me at 5 years old. The siren sound was especially loud, the “arrooga”-type alarm. In school, when we had the air drill, we were assembled in the hall way and then escorted out to a bus where we boarded and drove just outside the city limits. The bus then turned around and went back to the school and dropped us off. We lived near a nuclear facility which was a top secret work site. It was protected by the Army and a missile site with ground-to-air anti-aircraft missiles. You might know about Hanford, or the Manhattan Project. That was where I lived in Eastern Washington. At 5, you don’t understand the danger around you until later in life.
All I knew back then was life was not certain. The danger of war was always present. The movies that were popular were war movies and our heroes were soldiers like my Dad.
One day when walking home alone from school, I came upon a worksite where the city had dug a huge open ditch for a water and sewer main while I was at school. The ditch was deep, maybe 6 to 8 feet deep and was a block long. The ditch was left open, which looked very tempting for me to go down into, so I found a way at the end of the ditch to climb down into the deep trench.
As I was walking along the ditch I thought how cool it was to be so deep into the ground. Then, suddenly, rocks and dirt came falling in on top of me. I jumped away from the side of the ditch to the other side.
As I turned and looked up, there stood a boy, probably twice my age looking down at me. He then kicked more dirt and rocks toward me from where he was standing. I began to run toward the end of the ditch to get out. He ran along the edge of the ditch toward the end also. As I got to the end, he was standing there waiting for me. For some reason, I was not afraid of him. The boy, a neighbor hood bully, slowly came down the end of the ditch toward me as I stood there. He never said a word to me, just walked slowly toward me. I sensed he meant harm by the look in his eyes. I began to feel a panic moment, but then a peace came about me. Suddenly I looked down in front of me and saw a long willow branch, like the ones my Dad would have me go find when I needed a spanking.
I picked up the willow branch and gripped the switch tightly and began to swing it swiftly between the bully and me. The kid continued to walk toward me gripping at the air to try and grab the switch. I began to swing the branch back and forth as fast as I could making a whirring sound with the branch. The bully lunged to grab the switch and it hit him right in the face and eyes. He stopped and grabbed at his face and eyes and then lunged at me again. Again the switch hit him in the face. He then started yelling, “Stop it.” I continued to swing the branch as fast as I could. Then the boy started to back off. I walked toward him with the branch just buzzing. The big kid then turned and ran off, crying for help as I remember.
Amazingly, as I look back at that event as a child, I believe God was teaching me a huge lesson on how to deal with evil around me even to this day. Why do bad things happen to good people? What makes people do evil things? I don’t have the answers, but I know that God’s Word does. How do we deal with bad things in our lives and people who do evil things to others? Jesus tells us through God’s word to pray for our enemies, to love our enemies and to do good to them (Luke 6:27-28). This allows God to be God in situations where if we trust Him, He will make things right. That is His nature.
One of my favorite stories in the Bible is the story of Joseph and the Coat of many colors found in Genesis. The Bible defines the moral at the end of this valuable story as “What men meant for evil, God intended for good ” (Genesis 50:20).
Whenever we find ourselves in a difficult situation, which happens often enough with me, I believe God will put that switch at our feet at just the right time so we can be protected. Start each day praying and ask God for protection from evil, just as Jesus taught us to do in Matthew 6:9. Get involved in a ministry in your church or in your community and allow God to manifest His Love and protection to others through you. Most of all, I pray that we all realize, “that greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4), and, stay in touch with the Word of God for your spiritual daily bread each day and pray for all people everywhere to know the one true God and Jesus Christ whom He has sent.
Mark Conway is a Christian evangelist living in Sterling where he and his wife Maryna have a Christian Retreat Center and house of prayer.