This week the Dallas Fire Department was at Holy Cross to test and give the green-tag permit to our new fire alarm system.  With the strobe lights flashing and a loud, Siri-like voice warning us of the dangers, the experience reminded me of a very real threat faced by friends of ours who once served as Christian missionaries in east Africa.

A few years ago my wife and I received the following email. I’ve kept it because, well, you’ll see why…

I am just writing to inform all of you that your prayers are very powerful and much valued. 

Last night, at least 6 thieves broke into our compound by cutting a hole in our back fence and pushing through the thorn hedge.  When they entered the compound, they began to fight with our 4 dogs who made a lot of noise and slowed them down considerably.  At this point, our night watchman heard the ruckus and set off our house alarm which consists of a siren and a flashing light on top of the house.  This woke us up inside the house, and I immediately pressed our alarm button which called our security service.  They sent guards who arrived at the house 3 minutes later to make sure the compound was secure.  It does not appear that the thieves even made it close to the house before encountering the dogs, and the audible and visible alarm then scared them off – but even if they had, we have very secure bars on our windows and doors which would take them a long time to defeat.  The guards showing up from the security service provided an added deterrent for any who might think that it’s a good idea to try again.

As we rejoiced over their safety, I thought about what the thieves attempted to break through in order to get the house, the heart of the compound: a fence, a thorn hedge, 4 dogs, a night watchman, a house alarm consisting of a siren and flashing light, a security service en route to the compound as well as window and door bars.

I don’t even know if the thieves knew our friends were missionaries—if they did, maybe they would’ve realized that they didn’t have much to rob them of!

They could, God forbid, even harm them, but one thing I know for sure, is that no matter what they would’ve taken, they would never have been able to steal their faith.  Listen to the words of the Apostle Paul to young Timothy: “Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you—guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit.”  –2 Timothy 1:14

Their faith, that Good deposit to be guarded which Paul talks about in his letter to Timothy.  That sound teaching, as Paul writes… “God who has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace.  This grace was given us in Christ Jesus who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light.”

Life and immortality—much like a flashing light awakening the Kenyan neighborhood or sleepy parishioners on a Sunday morning in the halls of Holy Cross, the light of Christ has come into the world to destroy the darkness, to awaken the world to its sin, to its need for a savior and show the world that rescue is here.

And yet, until Christ returns, the thieves of the darkness still linger—not just to rob us of house and home, but to rob us of the light, to rob us of the life and the joy that is the very treasure of our hearts–to steal away that good deposit, that confession that Jesus Christ is Lord.

So, as the DFD runs its tests, and I’m reminded of my friend’s frightening experience a few years ago, it all continues to prompt me to ask myself, “What am I doing to guard the good deposit in my heart?” Certainly, sealed by the Holy Spirit and as a baptized child of God my security is not in my ability, but in what Jesus has done for me. (Luther’s Hymn, “A Mighty Fortress” comes to mind!) But it’s obvious that as His followers we are called to guard and care for, to steward well, the faith given to us.

What daily steps are you (am I) taking to care for it? If we can’t make use of literal fences and guard dogs, what have we put into place to serve as a barrier of protection?  Is it daily Bible reading?  Is it intentional study of the Word with others? What are the alarms we’ve set to alert us to the attempts of thieves to break in and steal?  If Fire Department wanted to give you the “green-tag” for your safety system, what would they be testing and evaluating?  Would it even pass?

In the days ahead, commit with me to developing a way to protect what you have, learning to safeguard the good deposit of faith given to you in Christ—it’s the most valuable possession we have!

In the Strong Name of Jesus,

P.S.  Don’t forget to share with me your ideas!  tzucconi@hcdallas.org

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Pastor Tom Zucconi
Pastor Tom is a native of Dallas and grew up in Richardson. He is a graduate of Jesuit High School and is a two-time TCU alum. Pastor Tom is married to Jennifer, and they have three daughters, Megan, Allison, and Nina. During his time in ministry, Pastor Tom has served in Metro Detroit, the Akron-Cleveland area, and for the last few years, a missional effort in Atlanta called Sanctus Communities. You can follow Pastor Tom on Twitter at @RevMacaroni where he pursues his interests in theology, the Dallas Cowboys, classic cars, and anything Italian.