A message for Akron Alliance Fellowship Church, Akron OH, Sunday, May 21, 2023.
For the “Live in Church” audio of this message, click here.
We live in a day and age where all of us are more conscious of our surroundings. As we have matured, we know of the importance of driving defensively. That advice is especially important today. When we are out in public, even when taking walks in the park, it is best to go in pairs for safety’s sake.
In a family, the husband is to care for his wife. If the wife is out with the children, her role is to look after the children and keep them safe. Family members look after each other and, when called upon, fulfill roles to protect one another from harm.
Do you remember the famous line from Nationwide Insurance commercials, “Life comes at you fast”? When life happens fast, we often face very real challenges that get our immediate attention. I’m going to share with you one of these life-changing moments. This story is from The Epoch Times:
A heroic Michigan teenager was able to prevent his younger sister from being kidnapped by firing off a slingshot at the would-be kidnapper, according to Michigan State Police.
Police said at a May 15 press conference that an 8-year-old girl was hunting for mushrooms in her backyard in the city of Alpena on May 10 when she felt the alleged assailant “grab her.”
According to Lt. John Grimshaw with the Michigan State Police Alpena Post, the 17-year-old suspect entered through the woods onto the young girl’s property, and came up behind her before grabbing her “like you’d see in a movie, his hand over the mouth, arm around the waist.”
He then attempted to pull the victim into the woods, Grimshaw said.
However, the girl’s older brother, 14, saw the commotion occurring outside and grabbed his slingshot and any “ammunition” he could find before approaching the suspect and firing two shots at him, hitting him in the head and chest.
Thanks to the young boy’s quick-thinking actions, his sister was able to escape the would-be kidnapper, police said.
“He really is the one that I believe saved his sister’s life or from something seriously bad happening to her,” Grimshaw said. “For a 14-year-old to see that and to pop into action that quickly is extraordinary and he should be commended for it.”
Police found the suspect hiding in a gas station later that same day after being informed about the attempted kidnapping by the girl’s family, Grimshaw said.
He was subsequently arrested, according to officials.
Grimshaw said the would-be kidnapper was easily identifiable owing to the multiple injuries he had sustained from the slingshot.
“What he did also helped us identify who the suspect was because obviously [the suspect] had injuries from being hit with the slingshot and those were things that helped us identify who it was,” Grimshaw said of the young boy’s actions.
The suspect has not been named. He allegedly told police during interviews that he planned on severely beating the child, local news outlet Mlive reported.
He has been charged as an adult with one count each of attempted kidnapping/child enticement, attempted assault to do great bodily harm less than murder, and one count of assault and battery, according to the publication.1
Here is an example of an extraordinary story of how a 14-year old, in a very stressful situation, was able to act quickly and thwart the efforts of a predator in protecting his 8-year old sister from harm. The slingshot is an obvious reminder of how someone was cool under fire. The entire account of David and Goliath is in the 17th Chapter of First Samuel—and that can be your homework for today’s reading, but we will cover an excerpt from this amazing story:
1 Samuel 17:40-50 NIV
40 Then he (David) took his staff in his hand, chose five smooth stones from the stream, put them in the pouch of his shepherd’s bag and, with his sling in his hand, approached the Philistine.
41 Meanwhile, the Philistine (Goliath), with his shield bearer in front of him, kept coming closer to David. 42 He looked David over and saw that he was little more than a boy, glowing with health and handsome, and he despised him. 43 He said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come at me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. 44 “Come here,” he said, “and I’ll give your flesh to the birds and the wild animals!”
45 David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 46 This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. This very day I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and the wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. 47 All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.”
48 As the Philistine moved closer to attack him, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet him. 49 Reaching into his bag and taking out a stone, he slung it and struck the Philistine on the forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell facedown on the ground.
50 So David triumphed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone; without a sword in his hand he struck down the Philistine and killed him.
For those of you wondering how a slingshot with stones can inflict such force, Jearl Walker in “The Flying Circus of Physics” writes that David’s sling had a flexible pocket with two straps that could build up enough kinetic energy to hurl a stone of 25 grams (about 1 oz.) at 100 kilometers per hour (62 mph) to hit his target 200 meters (656 feet) or more away.2
David’s triumph reminded me of how we are victorious in facing opposition as we live for Jesus:
Isaiah 54:17 NKJV
No weapon formed against you shall prosper,
And every tongue which rises against you in judgment
You shall condemn.
This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord,
And their righteousness is from Me,”
Says the Lord.
David’s triumph over Goliath was the result of remaining faithful, focused and determined under a highly stressful situation. The young man who saved his sister did the same thing. They are both examples as to how when life happens fast, God enables you and I to meet the challenge.
As life happens, the world conditions you to be on the alert and be ready to act:
1 Peter 5:8-9 ESV
8 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9 Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.
The New Living Translation of being sober-minded and watchful sums this up…”Stay alert!” Staying alert requires giving attention to your environs and being aware of your surroundings. In many ways, staying alert can often be very stressful. Life is full of different stresses, of course, and stress can be magnified when unexpected events take place. At some point, we have to manage our stress as we can’t eliminate it from our lives. If a person or a family lives in a high crime area, you can see how important this really is.
God’s Word is already telling us this because He warns us about Satan and his demons, our active enemies.
Ephesians 6:12 ESV
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
When life happens fast, we are called to be alert and be ready to respond; however, we need to know how to live and thrive when we’re not on high alert using our slingshot (or whatever we use for defense). We have to find a way to live and take our stress levels down.
It is important that we define stress for this exercise, as it can sometimes mean different things under different circumstances. According to the American Psychological Association, stress is a normal reaction to everyday pressures, but can become unhealthy when it upsets your day-to-day functioning. Stress involves changes affecting nearly every system of the body, influencing how people feel and behave. If unchecked, stress has a debilitating effect. It contributes directly to psychological and physiological disorder and disease and affects mental and physical health, reducing quality of life.3
From a biblical perspective, we need to make sure that we are not worrying about things that God has already covered for us. Our food, our clothing, our finances, our transportation. Just because we can’t see the end result doesn’t mean that God hasn’t already handled it.
The formula, in all cases to reduce stress is to increase your faith. Start with looking directly to your heavenly Father.
Matthew 6:33-34 ESV
33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
At some point, you have to put down your slingshot. While you can’t avoid the stresses in staying alert, you can manage them.
We manage stress by giving all of it over to Jesus. David had the mindset of a winner because of the close relationship that he had with God. In contrast, we may experience defeat because we leave God out of the picture.
Well, we just can’t do this.
Let’s explore these four remedies for the stress in our life. The Latin word for “remedy” is remedium; re and medeor, which means to heal.4 (Note: the following list is by no means a complete solution for combating stress. If you are dealing with anxiety or depression, it may require medical attention that includes counseling and medication.) All of us need to turn to the remedies that Jesus provides for us.
Get your rest. How much sleep do you get at night? In order to diminish stress and experience God’s peace, we need to rest. Naps are great, too!
Psalm 4:8 ESV
In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.
Matthew 11:28-30 ESV
28 “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Reading, in general, reduces stress as you take your mind to a different place. Reading the Bible is where you can learn more about how to bring Jesus into your life more and more as you receive and retain God’s Word. Jesus is the living Word (John 1:1), and we have everything that we need to manage stress as we trust and rely upon Him.
Romans 15:4 ESV
For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
Joshua 1:7-9 NLT
7 “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the instructions Moses gave you. Do not deviate from them, turning either to the right or to the left. Then you will be successful in everything you do. 8 Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do. 9 This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
2 Timothy 3:16-17 NIV
16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
To reflect means reflecting, or mirroring God’s goodness by living in obedience to Jesus. The more time that you spend with Him in prayer and study, Jesus will shape you (just like the potter shapes the clay) in the power of the Holy Spirit.
2 Corinthians 5:17 NKJV
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.
Galatians 2:20 ESV
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
The fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) will help you manage, overcome and endure periods of stress, anxiousness or loneliness.
There is nothing to fear when you embrace God’s love for you.
1 John 4:18 ESV
There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.
Romans 5:8 ESV
But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
If you haven’t already done so, now’s the time to turn your life completely over to Jesus. He’s the reason why you’re here.
He’s also the reason why you can…
We all need to celebrate our victories in Jesus through our adversity with the confidence that God loves us!
Romans 5:1-5 ESV
1 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
Philippians 4:4-9 NIV
4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
After all is said and done, you can hang onto stress and try to live with it, or you can give your life to Jesus and trust in the peace that He gives to you through the Holy Spirit.
John 14:26-27 NIV
26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
Keep your slingshot handy for when you need it most, but manage your stress in the peace and confidence that Jesus already has the victory.
Copyright © 2023 Melvin Gaines
1 Roberts, K. (2023, May 16). Michigan boy, 14, uses slingshot to prevent sister, 8, from being kidnapped. http://www.theepochtimes.com. https://www.theepochtimes.com/michigan-boy-14-uses-slingshot-to-prevent-sister-8-from-being-kidnapped_5268311.html
2 Sones, B., & Sones, R. (2007, July 19). Strange but true: Physics explains how David Slew Goliath. Deseret News. https://www.deseret.com/2007/7/19/20030276/strange-but-true-physics-explains-how-david-slew-goliath
3 American Psychological Association. (n.d.). Stress. American Psychological Association. https://www.apa.org/topics/stress
4 Mason, K. (n.d.). Reference list – remedy. King James Bible Dictionary. https://www.kingjamesbibledictionary.com/Dictionary/remedy