I was in my mentors vicarage in Bath, Simon who was mentoring me through the arrow course (a course for younger church leaders) and turned to me and said, “I have a (prophetic) picture for you Andy” and he went on to tell me this moment in the third of the Lord of the Rings films, where Aragon has to take the sword and be, or become the King, it is a choice, it is one of the key turning points in the movie. He then said this: “God is telling you to take the sword and to be willing to lead”.
As I had long hair and a beard at that time I looked a little like Aragon, or at least an ‘unkempt Jesus’(!) Yet, I tried to heed the advice I had been given and grasp hold of that which I felt called to do, to say “Yes, and Amen”, pledging myself to “being all in” as my response to Christ’s call (even if my stomach knots and my heart beats a little faster).
After our mentoring session I thought sometimes we need someone else to encourage us to fulfil our God given destiny, to spur us on and “take our sword” someone to stand with us in our acceptance of that which God is wanting to give us.
As you read this I wonder what “taking your sword” means for you, what is God calling you to be and to do, what do you need to grasp hold of, what do you need to say “Yes” to.
As I got home the first thing I did was to find that clip which I have re-watched several times, in my search for that moment I also discovered another scene that also spoke to me, where a King is being controlled by an evil lizard type man, and Gandolf breaks the control and sets the King free. As we follow Christ as we seek to lead others where he is calling we are called to take ground –or take ground back- from the enemy who does not relinquish his control willingly, and we are engaged in a spiritual battle to see Jesus take his rightful throne. I remember a verse that a group of us who were young and keen followers of Jesus were given at a training day at a local Bible college and it was this: “Anyone who wants to live a Godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted”. Saying “Yes” to Christ is a call to join the frontline in the heat of battle.
Taking the sword echoes with something of my Anglican identity and calling, when we are ordained (and licenced) we are given a Bible –which Paul calls the sword of the Spirit. I was reminded of all those youth talks I had sat through that reminded us that unlike the rest of the armour of God (Eph.6) the sword is an offensive weapon, we have a call to move forward and fight rather than retreat and defend.
Our sword –the Bible- reminds us of who we are and our identity in Christ, we are created in God’s image, called and commissioned to “go and bare fruit that will last” as we “remain in him”. We go with the authority of Christ, we are his ambassadors, he makes his appeal through us, we are his witness –salt and light for him. As we do what Christ says he “no longer calls us servants but friends” and he, ‘Christ in us the hope of glory”, our treasure within our jars of clay, he in us is greater than he within the world and the same holy spirit in us is the same that raised Jesus from the dead. Jesus says of us “That we will do even greater things than him” and Paul tells us that God can do “immeasurable more than we can ask or imagine” by God’s mighty power working through us.
I can be a bit too apologetic sometimes, I even apologise when someone steps on my toe in the supermarket; I think that as Christians we can be timid –despite scripture reminding us that “God has not given us a spirit of fear but … and a sound mind”- whilst often those with different ideas to us often can (appear) confident and vocal, and disagreeing with them and pointing to a different way can sometimes feel like a Goliath shaped challenge, but as David found that with God all things are possible!
As a Christian, a child of God, you have duty to speak and a right to be heard (even if they choose not to listen).
Yet, we cannot let a sense of false humility, our own awareness of our faults, flaws and failures and keeps us from stepping up and doing who God has called us to be, and what God has called us to do. Are we placing our faith in God’s mighty power, or are we putting our confidence in our own abilities to screw things up? The devil wants to undermine our confidence in calling us to take up the authority we have –both in him, and also at that time with the commission I had from the Bishop to seek to share the love of Jesus with those outside the Church community.
I thought about that picture a lot “taking up the sword” means being prepared to fight, -to contend for the vocation and vision God has entrusted you with. Sadly if we do not grasp what we have been called to do there there are plenty of voices, leaders and people of influence who will willingly point people in a different direction. When we lead where God has called us we are consciously choosing to place Christ back upon his throne, which means displacing anything that is there already that will not bow the knee to Christ.
Whatever you feel God might be calling you to be and do, grasp that which God has for you, step into the person and the vocation God has assigned for you to do, and take the sword.
And maybe there are those around you who need to take their swords too, as you pick your sword, you will in turn inspire others to grasp theirs.