Thursday, October 30, 2014

Take a lesson from war

Have you ever been in a situation where you just knew no matter how hard you tried to make your opinion count, no matter how hard you fought for a particular matter, the verdict or outcome was already decided, despite your best efforts to direct the course otherwise?  What was your emotional outcome in those circumstances?  Wasn't it a deep sense of defeat and discouragement?  You tried so hard, but the outcome could not be changed despite all the efforts on your part.  There are just times in life when it is wiser to walk away than to continue to engage in the battle, my friends.  Now, this may seem a little "defeatist" at first, but not really.  Consider the energies directed at the "fight" you stand no chance of winning and then how much more those same energies could do in the matters you do have an influence in.  When those energies are redirected toward the stuff you can actually affect, you at least feel a sense of reward and hope in the outcome. To continue where we have no chance of making forward progress is futile.  Sometimes the very best course of action is to retreat!

Wisdom brings strength, and knowledge gives power.  Battles are won by listening to advice and making a lot of plans.  (Proverbs 24:5-6 CEV)

World War II was probably one of the most studied wars of all times.  Why?  There was much to be learned by the study of the movements of the troops engaged in the various battles (including the retreats and regrouping maneuvers).  In one such battle known as the Battle of Stalingrad, the "undoing" of Hitler's advances to attempt to establish what he envisioned as "the global empire" was actually the longest and bloodiest of battles. The loss of lives was over one million troops, not to mention innocent lives lost in the course of invasions, bombings, and senseless torture or imprisonment.  What ended the advancement of Hitler's armies?  The cutting off of all supplies to his troops.  It was the dead of winter, resources were scarce, and the Russian army was able to effectively "stall" the advancement of the Nazi regime by "interrupting" the flow of supplies to replenish the resources the German army would need to continue the fight.  Sometimes the battles in our lives are won not by the might we exhibit, but by the effective placement of our defenses!

It wasn't how many troops they had in the battle, but where they placed those troops, when they withdrew to avoid any further loss, and how they structured every counter-attack that won the battle.  In addition, it was "who" they were able to engage in the battle.  Probably one of the main reasons the Russian army was so successful was their ability to constantly replenish their numbers.  Even women joined in the battle - something not quite recognized as a possibility with the German forces. The same is true in our own lives - sometimes the wisest decision is to pull back, regroup, and refocus our energies on a different aspect of the battle where we can make an impact.  Sometimes we need to recognize the resources we have been "throwing into the battle" are dwindling and we need to think outside of the box, so to speak, when it comes to replenishing our resources.  We may not have thought of a particular means of moving forward in the fight until someone with eyes "outside" of the battle gives us insight into how it is we might "counter" the advances coming against us!

I guess one of the hardest things to do when we are in the midst of the moments of battle is this idea of actually stopping what we are doing when it seems to be futile.  We just keep battling on - not because we see any hope in the outcome - but because we don't know what else to do.  This is where wise counsel (sage advice) comes into play.  We need to take into account we cannot see the way "out" because we don't even remember anymore the way "in" to the battle.  In many skirmishes within this great battle, the loss of life was great because the way "in" effectively was cut off, providing no way "out".  A skilled army will see the advantages of cutting off the supply of resources to those they oppose.  This cutting off of resources is often the very thing needed to shut down the battle!  If you don't believe me, recall the last time you were engaged in an argument of sorts, then suddenly realized how saying anything more was just going to add fuel to the fire.  When you stopped, what happened to the argument?  Didn't it take a turn?  Why? You cut off the resources necessary for the battle to continue!

When it comes to battling sin's influence in our lives, we often need the vantage point of another "outside" of the battle to help us sort through how we cut off the resources which continue to fan the flames of temptation, fuel the fires raging within, and frustrate even the best of intentions on our part.  The "plan" we form when we consider the wisdom of those who see the battle from a different perspective may actually be what we need to recognize the resource "pathway" which must be cut off in order to stall the enemy's advances in our lives!  We also may see there are different "resources" available to us which we have not considered before (just like Russia realized when they considered the advantages of the women entering into the fight, effectually doubling their resources at times).  We need more than our own vantage point to see the larger picture.  When we limit our focus, we only see the surrounding forces and we don't consider the possibilities of cutting off their resources by one slight movement of defenses in one direction or another!  Just sayin!

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