Gold, Guns, and God

Two items in this week’s Denver Post caught my eye. First, the price of gold is at an all time high, over $1000 per ounce. Everyone but me, it seems, is buying gold to keep at home or in a safe-deposit box somewhere. The internet reminds me that $24,000 of gold fits into a paper tube about the size of a roll of quarters. Wow. Makes me want to melt down those heirloom, precious, gilded baby-booties from my great-grandmother. Probably worth something now. (I won’t, but it does make one think. And she’s dead, anyway.)

What keeps us safe?A second item jumped out of the newspaper: the shelf supply of ammunition for rifles and handguns is at an all time low. Stores can’t keep bullets in stock, and manufacturers can’t keep up with the demand. If seems as if Americans, and others around the world, are stock-piling both gold and shotgun shells. We are weighing in metals: gold, brass, and lead.

So what’s the connection? Why do people want to buy gold? Why do people want to store bullets? I offer a simple answer: people are afraid today. Our levels of trust in the economy, wall street, the government, the state of world peace, the neighbor across the street, et al, is preciously low. Commentators on CSN or Fox will tell us it’s a confluence of 9/11, a vicious political season, corporate corruption, cancer rates, or the recession. I add to the list “too many frightened commentators telling us why we’re afraid.” Regardless, people are scoring higher on the fear continuum. We’re sliding the bell-shaped curve to the right: from concerned to nervous, to beyond worried, to highly anxious, and then pinning the needle at flat out terrified. A kind of paranoia is sneaking into the world of Sears and Sam’s Club. Webster’s Dictionary defines paranoia as a tendency on the part of an individual or group  toward excessive or irrational suspiciousness and distrustfulness of others. Yep. It’s here. Buy gold and bullets, baby. We want something we can hold on to and feel safe.

I asked my doctor the other day during a routine check-up if people seemed more fearful to him. After setting down the H1N1 needle, he peered through his full-face mask, touched me kindly with a double-gloved hand, and offered that over half of the patients he treats now are suffering from anxiety-aggravated disorders. Really. Fear is the new disease du jour. And then he told me to triple my vitamin C intake and avoid airplanes.  Mindless of the sweat forming on your brow and mine, the truth is that fear is epidemic.

So, should we be into piles of ingots and ammo? If so, when do I have enough? When the tube is full, or the closet is full, or the basement is full? Eugene Petersen, a favorite author of mine, defines faith as “paranoia in reverse.” I like that, and I need an extra helping of anti-paranoia today. Forget H1N1 shots. It is faith which is the only lasting cure for fear. In his day, Jesus spoke words of faith to the fearful men and women who looked out their first-century windows at a war-torn, chaos-filled world. Looking into their eyes, wide-like-saucers, perhaps, he said,

“Don’t worry. I want you to be unshakable and assured, deeply at peace. In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I’ve overcome the world.”

It is a person’s faith which mitigates their fear. It used to be faith in a system, or a company, or a pension plan. Now it’s rotated to faith in Kuggerands, and Smith and Wesson. Focus it where you like: it is still faith at work quelling our fear. The most powerful faith occurs when you trust a person who actually has some power to influence your problems. For example, we feel better when the teacher says, “Don’t worry about your grade. You’ll get an A.” And sometimes I need to look into my children’s eyes and say, “Don’t worry. It’s going to be fine. Trust me. I’m your Dad.”

Faith is the answer to fear. And the bigger the Person we trust, and more power they have to influence the matters of our life, the less our fears emerge. To the point: my friends, we need an inoculation of anti-paranoia. We need to look up, child-like, and take heart. We need to place our faith, again, in a good God who sees our world clearly. Instead of predicting the next dire turn, or watching Fox News predict it, we need to look to our faith. The Creator is bigger than the metals he created. This is paranoia in reverse.

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11 comments

  1. I realize this is an old article, but I stumbled across the link when reading about Petra…As someone who has been seriously considering buying a gun in the last few months, watching the crime reports slowly begin to trickle across town and up the street towards my home where I and my very ill parents live, I needed to read this. Regardless of the fact that there are more than a dozen drug dealers within a three block radius of my home; regardless of the meth lab that was two doors down and the child prostitution I fully believe went on there; regardless of the fact that I find myself ducking from the gunshots once a week or more; regardless of the fact that the police are not able (or willing) to keep up with the crime, GOD IS STILL IN CONTROL!

    • Amen to that Laura ! HE is and will always and forever be ! Praying for your safety and HIS peace to rule over your life. Blessings Lori

    • Guns may have their place, Laura, but God never jams or misfires. I will ask God to give you more faith, more peace, and more safety in a rough neighborhood. Christ’s blessings on you!

  2. Many find peace in that phrase, shouted out above the din of a world infected with evil, “GOD IS STILL IN CONTROL !” It has the ring of truth in it but there is also a tinge of discomfort that unsettles me when I hear it. God is all-knowing, all-powerful, all seeing and throw in many other omni-whatevers, BUT, there is still evil in this world and there are still people who do evil (myself too often included) and then there are those sociopaths, psychopaths or whatever clinical name you give them, there are evil people in this world. Is God really in controll of them? Now I have no doubt God’s power is greater than anything evil could ever throw at Him, and I find an incredible peace in knowing that, at some point in the eternal future that God has given me by His grace, God will win.

    But is He in “control”? Is that accurate? Is that biblical? God does not control evil but He is never surprised by what evil does, He is never caught off-guard by evil choices and He always has a plan well in advance of what evil does. (Look to the lesson of Petra in this blog to see that first-hand.) But though God had planned for the trajectory of the bullet, years, even ages before the trigger was pulled, I don’t think we can say that God controlled the man who fired the bullet. (For the theologians reading this, you know the dilemma that Calvin brought to the church.)

    I don’t think we should find peace, nor is it biblically accurate to say that God is in control. Rather, you should find peace in knowing, deep down inside, that God has linked you eternally to Himself through His grace and by the completed work of Jesus Christ on the Cross. It is OK to buy a gun and learn how to use it to protect yourself and those who depend on you for protection. Buying a gun and learning the skills necessary to control that gun so that it can be a tool, used only as a last resort to stop evil, is not a declaration that you don’t believe in God. It is simply recognition that God does not control evil, but He can plan to stop evil by using your diligent preparation, just as surely as He uses the surgeon’s skill to repair the damage that a bullet can cause.

    Guns and bullets are not evil, nor is carrying them the antithesis of faith. They are simply powerful tools that can be used for good or for evil depending on who is controlling them. (Theological pun intended) We would never say that a Christian policeman who carries a weapon (actually several weapons both lethal and nonlethal) is less of a faithful Christian or has less faith than those who choose to go weaponless. I deeply admire the watchdog warriors who put on their uniforms of all kinds and strap on (or strap into) their weapons to do battle against evil people and evil governments. God bless them all and may His plan grant them victory and may His grace cover them should they die.

    God is not yet in control, but He does have a plan, and He has the wisdom and power to bring His plan to completion no matter what evil does and no matter what pain evil may cause. There is the power and the peace of faith in Jesus Christ who has, by His resurrection, already proven that God will ultimately be in control and that we have the marvelous opportunity to be a part of His plan and to take action in His name, even when the power of evil looms over us and imminent destruction is upon us. We need fear no evil and we can always resist even at the cost of our lives because of what Jesus has done on the cross and in our hearts and lives.

  3. (This is a different Laura.. ;-D )
    This message is great! Jesus said “Whoever loves the life they have now will lose it. But whoever is willing to give up their life in this world will keep it. They will have eternal life.” John 12:25 (ERV).

    This is a generation who has become so self centered and self preserving (and I am just as guilty as anyone else) that we forget to store up “treasures in Heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal.” as we are hording our safety net and we put security in gold and guns…in Rev 3:18, Jesus says to the Laodicean church; “I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich…”. And earlier, when Jesus sent the disciples out before he died, he had them go with out a money bag, or a staff, or a coat so that they would learn to trust in God for everything.

    This generation seems to think either God can be manipulated and that money etc can be demanded from Him, or that God doesn’t want to help us…that He is too busy, or that our needs are not His priority, but I disagree! Jesus explained in the sermon on the mount that our Father is a much better Father than ANY earthly one; that if a child asked his earthly father for bread, his dad isn’t going to give him stones (which resembles a loaf of bread), and if the child wanted some fish, his dad isn’t going to give him a snake (also similar in movement to a fish). And if a loving earthly father knows how to give good gifts (necessary to life), how much MORE will your Heavenly Father give good gifts. Now, if we really believed that, we wouldn’t feel the need to horde and fear. The problem is that we don’t know how to ask correctly (with a pure, unselfish heart) and we don’t know what to ask for.

    Some will say that it’s good to be prepared. Yes, that is true. We shouldn’t just be blind to what is going on around us, but not many are willing to sit quietly and truly listen to what God wants them to do to be “prepared”. I have read that sometime around WWI or WWII the government made it illegal to “hold” gold, and confiscated it, so there is no real safety in hording up gold. And anyone familiar with Waco and other instances like that, knows that the government doesn’t take kindly to people stockpiling guns and ammo…they can and will decide to take whatever actions they feel necessary if they think you are a threat. (no matter if you are a true malicious cult, or merely trying to keep your family safe.)

    God protected David when Saul was after him; the three Hebrew boys, when Nebuchadnezzar threw them into the fire; Daniel, when king Darius had him thrown into the lion’s den. He rescued Peter from prison; Paul and Silas were also let free. We should start learning how to trust God and keep fear far from us!

    • I thought I gave a well reasoned and Biblical response to this article that allowed for open minds and honest response. Instead it looks like this blog is only open to one mindset and not real thoughtful, sincere discussion. The wisdom from above is first open to reason but this blog is not so I am removing my subscription.
      Greg

      • Greg,
        Thanks for reading this blog, even once. I am simply speaking from my place in life, and may be wrong. I appreciate your involvement. You and your ideas are valuable to me.

        Please pray that I may walk in the “wisdom from above.” It is a big task, and I mess up sometimes. When I read this goal (from James 3:17-18, Message), I am stretched:

        Real wisdom, God’s wisdom, begins with a holy life and is characterized by getting along with others. It is gentle and reasonable, overflowing with mercy and blessings, not hot one day and cold the next, not two-faced. 1You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honor.

  4. I recently read another article about how “April is the cruellest month.” I’ve known about that theory, which is basically that for some reason April is the focal point of big bad things happening. You wrote this entry long before it, but when the Newtown elementary shootings happened, the same ammo rush occurred. It seems there are two reactions to major events, at least in this country. 1)Arm yourself completely 2)Disarm everyone else entirely. This reveals two personal reactions to the same impulse: fear.

    Even though they fight, and today they announced that gun control failed again, the “two” sides (there are two main ones for my purposes here) are driven by a deep, inner need to respond wisely to their environment. Even now, at the end of the most recent round of debate renewed by the Newtown attack, the beginning comes again with the Boston attack. Is the evil increasing? Perhaps. Is the violence pressing ever closer to home? Yes. The reason some might emphatically answer “yes!” to the first question is because the answer is clearly “yes” to the second question. But what about countries and cities where the bombing hasn’t stopped for longer than a couple months since the 1970s? What about the pressing death that surrounds the devastatingly poor all over the world, even in America? For them, the evil in the world has little room to increase. But for the lucky or blessed or privileged or successful or luxurious or spoiled or accomplished or… for the group of us in the world who haven’t faced the evil daily, it feels closer, and ever closer, and ever closer. So we try to write laws that eliminate evil. We try to buy weapons that will eradicate evil. But we can’t stop the evil, with either method. We try to stock up on supplies, on knowledge, on preparation, on prevention. But we really only stock up on one thing: fear. I’ve dealt with medical anxiety for a long time and the first thing you must learn is that concentrating on defeating the fear will always, always multiply the fear. On either side of “the aisle”, the chosen response to fear cannot defeat it, only impregnate it. We cannot defeat fear.

    Let me reiterate that. WE cannot defeat fear. We cannot defeat fear because fear is evil. We cannot defeat evil because it has already been defeated. My anxiety is fueled entirely by physical means, chemicals within my body that act without my knowledge or consent. But if I have an anxiety attack, it is first sparked by a conscious thought, however small or unrelated to the final product of the attack. So my fear– my attempts to address and correct a difficulty or intimidating stimulus in my life– triggers my anxiety. My desire to control initiates the cycle fear. I control these physical uncontrollables with controlled chemicals given to me by my doctor. Those medicines exist because of God. It is as if God is making a theological statement through a pharmaceutical company (of all things). “Fear is a glutton. It will feed itself and never stop. Here, turn off the fear. Forget it about. I’ve already taken care of the evil you fear. You couldn’t have done it yourself anyway.” Fear is a result of our exposure to evil. But we are never truly exposed. We have been concealed by God. He has held us, wrapped in His arms, since we were born and He will never let go. He will never let go, so we can.

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