by Joe Leavell
It is yet another brutal winter night along the frontlines, and once again, you find yourself out on patrol. Thankfully, your position is not along the main battle line, but along one of the more quiet sides of the battlefield where there has been far less activity. It has been a relatively calm week along your stretch and you are hoping this will be another quiet watch. Shivering in the cold, your mind drifts towards the warmth of your tent, and you yearn for some much needed sleep and rest. Stillness and quiet fill the forest as you scan the woods in front of you. There is nothing to see but white and the random trees and shrubs jutting out of the snow.
But wait! Was that movement? Never mind. Must have been the wind blowing the brush. Calm again. Snap! The unmistakable sound of a branch breaking echoes in the woods not far away. It is not a foreign sound to the forest, but it is enough for you to take notice. You are sure that something just moved out in the darkness! Your adrenaline is pumping through your system now, and you watch the line more closely. Should you call it in? You decide it is best to wait in order to be sure. Now you see the outline of what looks like several bodies, and you know the enemy must be approaching. How strong is the force coming towards you, you wonder? Are they simply gathering recon? Honestly, there doesn’t seem to be too much movement and you’ve handled small skirmishes on your own in the past. Maybe if they attack you can handle it without waking anyone else.
Here they come! Your heart sinks to the floor as you realize what you are up against. This is no recon mission you face. This is a fully fledged surprise flanking maneuver by the enemy that is centered right on your position. Bullets begin to whiz past your ear as you have been spotted by the enemy, but now you dig in, ready for the fight. The last thing you want to be known for is a coward who can’t handle this flanking maneuver. You can’t stomach the idea of being looked down on by your brothers in arms. No one will call you a wimp who can’t handle his own problems! You determine that don’t need any other soldiers to help. You’ve got this battle no matter how big an army you are facing! So, with grit and self determination you begin to fire back at the enemy, resolved that you can take them on all on your own. As you hear the engines of enemy tanks firing up in the distance and as the mortar shells begin to pound the ground around you, you realize a little too late just how foolish you have been to not call for reinforcements. Not only have you thrown away your own life, but by not doing your job to warn your fellow soldiers, the entire flank is now in danger.
You Don’t Have to Fight Alone
I cannot imagine this ridiculous scenario ever happening to our American military. They are the most highly trained fighting force in the world and know the importance of working together as one unit. Yet, somehow, this understanding of fighting as a band of brothers has not sufficiently taken hold in our churches. Though Scripture uses the analogy of battle, fighting, and war on numerous occasions, we often do not think of our spiritual struggles in these terms. Brothers, let me be clear. We are in a war! There is a battle going on inside of you for your worship and your heart. It is a war between the Spirit and the flesh (Romans 8). Scripture tells us in 1 Peter 5:8, “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” Satan is the commander of a real enemy that seeks the destruction of you, your family, and your church (Ephesians 6:10-19). He knows that if he gets the dad, he can get the whole family. So it comes as no surprise that fathers and husbands are being attacked left and right.
Why then do men fall to these flanking maneuvers of the enemy? It is because they do not fight with the God-given resources they have available and because they fight alone. Many men feel like they are either strong enough to handle the spiritual attacks or that somehow they will be looked down on as a spiritual wimp for asking someone else, who is already busy, for help. So regardless of the size of the flanking attack by the enemy, they face their spiritual struggles alone, until they are on the edge of ruin.
Frankly, I have seen way too many men who have waited far too long to seek help from a pastor, a friend, or a counselor. They have stood alone in isolation until their families are devastated and their world is collapsing in around them. Brothers, no one mocks a soldier who calls for reinforcements when the enemy is flanking! He gets a commendation for being wise enough to call for help. We are not snipers and commandos who must fight our spiritual battles in isolation. We are meant to be one singular fighting unit who fight for the survival of the man in the foxhole next to him. Frankly, by stubbornly fighting alone, we are not only putting ourselves in danger, but also our families as well as the spiritual well being of the entire church.
Scripture calls us to this kind of joint warfare. Men, if you’re struggling, Call for reinforcements! Talk to a godly friend about your struggles. Talk to your pastor. Call our office and set up an appointment. The point is, you don’t have to go through these fights alone! You were never intended to in the first place!