It is interesting how it can be difficult sometimes to remember what I ate for breakfast, while the memories of my trip to Italy with my parents when I was only 7 years old are so well ingrained in my mind!
Take, for example, Castel Sant’Angelo — Saint Angelo’s Castle! I vividly remember this beautiful building. I remember that initially I really liked the place. It was huge and majestic and beautiful. Far more grandiose than anything my 7-year-old eyes had ever seen.
It was the display of weaponry, however, that truly captured my attention. Cannons, a pile of cannon balls, and even a battering ram! The fulfillment of any little boy’s dream! Unfortunately, we couldn’t pick the cannon balls up; but it didn’t matter. I closed my eyes, trying to imagine what it must have been like to live in such a place. My vivid imagination saw the people lining the walls with buckets of boiling water to throw down onto the enemy. As I looked out farther in my imagination, I saw the lines of soldiers drawing near. I saw the battering ram being run up against the gates. I heard the retort of the cannons, I even smelled their powder burning. It was so incredibly exciting!
But as I reached out once again to stroke those beautiful cannon balls, my imagination suddenly took a U-turn. My attention again focused on the imaginary people lining the top of the ramparts. Wait! They looked scared! Some were running for their lives as the gates shook and splintered under the battering ram! My eyes then returned to the imaginary line of soldiers. I saw some of them falling from their horses, wounded, some even dead. I saw the terrified animals rearing on their hind legs out of fear.
I pulled my hand back from the cannon balls, horrified that they had the potential to cause so much fear, so much death, and then I turned and ran from the display of weaponry. In my 7-year-old mind, I couldn’t understand why there would even be such a display! Were the adults of the world trying to encourage kids to fight and cause death? Did they think that maybe people wouldn’t be tempted to hurt one another any longer? Why would they put such glory onto instruments of torment and death?
I now know that this was a museum meant to teach us about history; and I now understand that it is important to study history so that history doesn’t repeat itself. But those concepts were way beyond my young mind. Instead, all I could think was this: “Why can’t the world live in peace?”
This was, perhaps, the first time I ever realized the horror of war. And as I grew up, I realized something even more sad: Modern day wars were still happening! Only this time, the weapons were far deadlier! And even now, I can’t help but think how wonderful it would be if everyone in the world lived in peace and harmony…
Of course, I know this can’t happen until everyone loves each other as we are commanded to: “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” (John 13:34 NIV). And we know that this state of global, unselfish love will not happen until Jesus returns, for didn’t the Apostle Paul say, “While people are saying, ‘Peace and safety,’ destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape…” (1 Thess. 5:3 NIV)?
But wait. What if we all longed for peace in the same way I did as a child in front of Castel Sant’Angelo in Rome? What if we all longed for the only thing that will bring that global peace, the return of Jesus? No, we can’t change the fact that global unselfish love is nothing but a wishful concept in our society; but there is one thing we can do: We can live our own lives with this kind of love! No, it may not make a global difference, but it will certainly make a difference to the people who are touched by our lives. And as we all long for Jesus’ return, we can each reach out to touch more and more people with unselfish love. Who knows? This action may even bring others to also long for Jesus!
There’s a pile of cannon balls over there! Would you like to throw a few at your enemies? Or would you prefer to choose the path of love?
In His love,
To access the entire “Through the Eyes of a Child” devotional series, please click here!