My Pop was a Chaplain in the Australian Army in the Second World War. When I was a school chaplain, he gave me his army chaplaincy notes. They are a pretty amazing resource. He stood with men going to and coming back from war. His notes reflect the sensitivity of the topics he needed to address in the context of turmoil. Later, he and my Gran were also missionaries in the wilds of Papua New Guinea as a young family.
My other Grandparents were active members of the resistance in Holland. They lived in a time when they weren’t trained for the task in front of them. In occupied Holland, they smuggled children, ran guns, interfered with railways, heard the soul rending ‘Chorus of the Hebrew Slave’ being sung from packed rail cars shipping Jews to concentration camps in the middle of the night.
These two families were in the same war, from vastly different fronts dealing with exactly the same enemy. They had different levels of training, different levels of personal safety, different levels of personal engagement, but both were necessary. One was right in the middle dealing directly with their home front warfare. Waging daily, secret, guerrilla warfare in their own suburbs. The other was in uniform managing the mental and spiritual health of men who would be fighting on the front lines in other places. Preparing to make sure he was available for those who might come home and need assistance.
There are several references to our life on The Narrow Way being the life of a soldier in an army. The first I want to reference is in the intuition of the Roman Centurian from Matthew 8 and Luke 7. He knew his place in the Roman army, and intuited that Jesus’ place over the hosts of Heaven carried weight. There are a bunch of others to look at too, from later in Pauls' letters and possibly the very first reference to Jesus ever, in Joshua 5:13-15.
“I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.” Matthew 10:16 (NIV)
Jesus said that when He sent his disciples out to practice all the things they had been learning to do alongside Him for those years. Luke reports, that first just the disciples went out, and then later, there was a larger contingent that went out – 72 in all. (Luke 9-10)
As much as we might be soldiers, and part of a war (which Jesus already won – please remember that always), we’re not supposed to be blindly following rank upon rank into a slaughter.
Guerrilla warfare looks different than most of the pictures conjure up. Basically it means to be able to adapt your approach to the situation at hand. So, if endless love is needed to break through, than that is guerrilla warfare in the right situation. If primary physiological needs are absent (food, sleep, water) then that is the warfare which is right. If people are unsafe, that may be the right thing to attend to.
If literal war is on your doorstep, you may be called to fight, you may be called to stand against the fight. You may be Bonhoeffer, you may be the Dutch resistance, you may be the ANZACS.
I am sure there are some organisations who think they are building structures which will turn out well disciplined and supported individuals who are whole, healed, ready for their part in the world. However, when push comes to shove, they’re really building very efficient, good-looking, sometimes complicated, sometimes obscure pin setting machines.
All a pin setting machine is good for is collecting bowling pins, re-organising them and setting them down as a ready target for the next flying projectile. Sure it makes neat and tidy rows, the pins are even in formation… but it does one thing. Arrange the pins to be a target, and leave them there until after they have been hit.
A shrewd person needs to be able to assess their situation and with the assistance of our amazing God, who just loves us to distraction, know the difference between the two. Between a pin setting machine and guerrilla warfare training.
My primary goal today is to encourage you in your growth as an effective warrior - because that is what you are, beautiful, amazing, gentle, strong, resilient, wise.
Your individual assignment most probably looks completely different to mine. It also may look completely different to the assignment of person in the next room! Our terrain will be different, our history, our technique, our path to goal; all may look very different. At the same time, it will all be touched by the same Hand. It will all be washed in the same Blood, and it will all be soaked in the same Joy.
Press in after Joy, after Peace, practice looking in the face of God and holding His gaze, because from that place, it doesn’t matter what is happening around you, the Peace of Christ holds you fast.
If you feel like you’re missing something, ask Him what it is and where to find it, He is faithful to show you. If you want prayer, ask people you trust or let me know, I would love to pray! There is nothing too big or too small that He is not interested in or capable of dealing with. Keep walking forward, even the smallest step is a step forward, and if it feels like a step backwards, it may be because you're actually dancing - always, always double check these things!
To Him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before His glorious presence without fault and with great joy - to the only God our Saviour be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen. Jude 1:24-25 (NIV)
God Bless You Very Much!