My husband joined the air force just after graduating from high school, many years ago. He trained as a radio technician, but was also trained as part of the base’s defense force. That meant that during the periodic ‘war games,’ meant to teach the men how to defend the base effectively, his assignment was to guard the end of the runway in the event of an “enemy” or “terrorist” attack. He was a solo guard, with only the standard issue rifle with which to do the job. He was usually ‘killed’ very early in the exercise. When my husband told me this story he admitted that his guarding of the runway was highly ineffectual. “Had there been real invaders or terrorists,” he said, “I would have done my best, but one person with a rifle, standing out in the open wouldn’t have been a deterrent, he would have been a target.”
When I heard that story, I immediately thought, “Duuh, what were they thinking?” But then I realized that the games those soldiers played back in that era were just that. They were games with no expectation of a real attack. There had been no 9/11. An attack on North American soil wasn’t even a consideration at that time. When you don’t really expect an enemy to attack, you don’t bother taking the precautions that might be necessary.
I fell into that trap recently. I’m very close to finishing the final draft of my novel and I hit one of those well known walls that writers often do. It’s a wall that screams back at you. “This book will never go anywhere. It’s not worth publishing. No-one will ever read it. Who said you could write? Who do you think you are? Give up and get a life.”
I’d forgotten that in the war being waged all around us, the work God has given me to do will make me a target. Too often we forget about the enemy that is out to destroy our souls. We don’t expect him to attack. Perhaps we feel secure in our good works – all the work we’ve produced to date that has told us we’re doing just fine. When we fall into that trap we are like my husband, alone on that airstrip with a very small weapon and, like him, we’ll be ‘dead’ before the ‘game’ has hardly begun.
The Bible says that our enemy “prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith…” (1Peter 5:8-9). How do we resist an enemy set on our destruction? First, know and believe that he will attack. Expect it. Then arm ourselves with the knowledge of God, the knowledge of His Word, the knowledge of His promises that will never be broken. Promises like the one that tells us He is our protector and our refuge. Promises that tell us that His purposes for us and our work will not fail. Then stop believing the enemy’s lies.
He can’t roar loud enough to make a difference when we are listening and responding to God’s voice. Then we know we will never stand alone.
In the spiritual battles of life, there is far more at stake than the defense of a military base; far more than the defense of an entire nation. The battle is for our very souls, which are eternal. With stakes that high, we must expect the attack and always be on the alert.