Loose Cannons

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“I have spent the better part of the last decade a little upset with my mom.”

It’ll be two years ago on April 30th that I stood before a group of people who gathered together to honor the memory of my mom and began to eulogize her with that sentence. I went on to talk about her final decade and how difficult it was to see her suffer the way that she did. I then brought to light my opinion of how she was the perfect Christian because, despite all of her flaws, she never gave up. I ended the eulogy by proclaiming how inspired I was by her to never give up, to never let my own flaws get in the way of my walk with God.

There are many people in my life who I consider heroes. Perhaps the biggest hero of them all is my oldest brother, Mike. Mike is about ten years older than I. Mike helped shape me in so many ways. My taste in music, movies, books, and many other things are a direct reflection of his influence. As a young boy, I watched him. I studied his actions. I mimicked the way he spoke. I used the same slang. He is the reason that words like “dude” and “man” are a regular part of my vocabulary. He bought me my first record. It was The Imperials’ Priority album. Some of my best memories are sitting in his room while he played his records and riding in his Camaro or his 1972 Buick Skylark convertible listening to music. I was probably annoying him most of the time, but these were the best times of my childhood.

Mike’s approval has always been vitally important to me. His advice has been some of the most valuable advice that I have ever received. He gave me a piece of advice when I was 21 that I ignored and still regret to this day. I realize now that he is usually speaking from experience and is most likely trying to divert me from making the same mistakes he has made.

His approval is so important to me that when, on the day of mom’s memorial service, he walked up to me and said that he was so nervous when I began her eulogy with that sentence, I became pretty nervous myself. He then went on to say that what I had to say about her perfectly described her life and how it was the perfect speech for the occasion. To this day, his compliment is one of the highlights of my life.

That day, he mentioned it a few more times. He brought up how nervous he was at first but then I wrapped it up so perfectly. He also told me that he said the same thing to Bishop Jordan who officiated the memorial service that day and Bishop Jordan’s reply was, “Yeah, he’s always been a loose cannon.”

A loose cannon.

A loose cannon?

Wait a minute. How am I supposed to take that? I mentioned that I have a lot of heroes and Bishop Jordan happens to be one of them, and he’s calling me a loose cannon?

(Bishop Jordan, if you happen to be reading this, I’m not offended.)

The term “loose cannon” is a nautical term referring to cannon that breaks loose from its moorings on a ship during battle or storm, which has the potential to cause serious damage to the ship and her crew. When describing a person as such it’s referring to an uncontrolled or unpredictable person who causes damage to their own team, faction, political party, etc.

The earliest known description is found in Victor Hugo’s 1874 novel Ninety Three:

 

“The carronade, hurled forward by the pitching, dashed into this knot of men, and crushed four at the first blow; then, flung back and shot out anew by the rolling, it cut in two a fifth poor fellow… The enormous cannon was left alone. She was given up to herself. She was her own mistress, and mistress of the vessel. She could do what she willed with both.”

I’ve thought a lot about this statement during the last two years. Am I really a loose cannon? Am I really uncontrolled or unpredictable? Have I really caused more damage with my words and actions than I’m worth?

So, considering this description of me, I began to think about my life. I began to think about the battles and storms that I’ve been through and how I’ve reacted in the past. In the past, when hard times have come, I’ve been exactly that; a loose cannon rolling around and firing at will damaging my surroundings and those I love the most.

This is the part where I should tell you that Mike, after my last blogpost, said I am too hard on myself. This may be true. I am pretty hard on myself. I do realize that I have made a lot of mistakes and caused a lot of damage and said many hurtful things. While I am hard on myself, I also realize that I do have a calling on my life and that this calling is powerful. I realize that the mistakes I’ve made are not irreparable. I realize that I can use my experience to help others who have gone down similar paths.

I started to consider loose cannons in scripture. The one with whom I most closely identify is Peter. Peter was that guy who shot off at the mouth. He was the one who tried to refuse to let Jesus wash his feet to which Jesus replied, “If you don’t let me wash your feet, you will have no part of me.”  One of my favorite things about Peter was that in one verse in Matthew 16, Jesus calls Peter a rock and proclaims, “…upon this rock I will build my church.” Then later on—IN THE SAME CHAPTER—Jesus looks at Peter and says, “Get behind me, Satan!” He was reduced from being the foundation of the church to being the devil in just a matter of a few verses. It was Peter who boasted that he would follow Jesus to the grave and then later, that same night, denied even knowing Him. It was Peter who went into hiding when they crucified our Lord. It was also Peter who, after the resurrection, saw Jesus cooking some fish on the shore and couldn’t wait for the boat to reach the shore. He jumped out of the boat and swam to fall at the feet of his Savior. It was Peter whom Jesus restored as an apostle by simply asking him three times if he loved him. It was Peter who stood up on the Day of Pentecost and declared the plan of salvation to the Jews, and it was Peter who first preached to a good Italian man opening the way of salvation to the Gentiles.

The damage that Peter had done during his own personal battles were outdone by the great things he did as a minister of the Gospel. At one point, even the sick were healed just by Peter casting a shadow over them.

So, I embrace the title. Perhaps, I have been a loose cannon in the past. Perhaps, I have caused some destruction by allowing myself to be broken during some battles and storms. None of that takes away from the fact that I have been called by God and the damage that I will do to the enemy as I allow myself to be secure in Jesus will be far more significant that any mistake I have made.

How do you see yourself? Are you or have you been a loose cannon yourself? Whether you are or have been loose in the past, the key thing is that you are a cannon. You are a weapon of war, and if you allow yourself to be secure in Jesus, you can be so powerful that the gates of Hell cannot prevail.

 

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