Thursday, February 5, 2015

Not just a foxhole

Ever feel like your "battle" in life was more like an all-out attack? There are times when we all feel like taking one more step forward is just going to be met with a barrage of weaponry meant to mortally wound us.  We just cannot move for fear if we do our lives will be lost to the battle.  Most of us don't know the meaning of hunkering down in the depths of a foxhole (or fighting trench). The bullets whizzing by overhead, even shrapnel from shells exploding all around you, one tiny misstep into the line of fire meant you could be struck down in an instant!  What most of us don't recognize is the meaning of the foxhole - it is a place of defense!  That means it actually accomplishes something for our protection!  Instead of bemoaning your position in the foxhole, thinking you have succumb to defeat because you find yourself there, it is time to realize it is in the foxhole a good many positive things actually happen!  The foxhole actually allows a soldier to stand and fight!  He is just protecting his body in the process!

We are not fighting against humans. We are fighting against forces and authorities and against rulers of darkness and powers in the spiritual world. So put on all the armor that God gives. Then when that evil day comes, you will be able to defend yourself. And when the battle is over, you will still be standing firm. (Ephesians 6:12-13 CEV)

In modern terminology, a foxhole is termed a "defensive fighting position" and is built not all at once, but gradually.  It begins with what we might have seen in some of the earlier black and white films of military history - that shallow dugout which allowed the soldier to lay on his belly just below the line of fire. This provided a modicum of protection, but what it primarily did was allow the soldier to take time to develop this as a stronghold from which he might fight the battle with a great deal of protection.  The first step in standing against any attack in our lives is to "assume a position of protection".  This might not be physically digging a foxhole, but figuratively speaking - we do assume the position whereby we might "enlarge" our protective stance.  At first, we just duck and cover - finding it very hard to avoid all the "weaponry" of our enemy's attack.  Then in time we find our position leaves us vulnerable.  What we do next is what I think Paul had in mind when he spoke with the Ephesian church about putting on the full armor of God.

One of the things we forget is this idea of armor having two purposes - one is to defend ourselves - the other is to go on the offensive.  One is to stand strong - the other is to take on the attack with a little bit of fighting back.  Try speaking into your place of fear the next time with a strongly believed passage of scripture and see how this "weapon" of offense actually drives the fear back! At first, the tiny "dugout" protects us, but we cannot move all too well.  As we use this place of defense to shield us from the attack, we can actually "dig in" a little deeper, enlarging our place of defense over and over again until it become a full-fledged "dugout" within which we can maneuver.  Why is this significant in terms of spiritual defense?  The truth is that God wants us to have "room" to fight the attack around us.  He doesn't want us to feel like we are just barely escaping the rapid fire succession of the enemy's attacks - but we are carefully under the protective shelter of his enveloping presence.

As a member of the infantry in my younger days, I recall the instruction of our sergeant as we practiced the defensive maneuver of digging in.  What seemed like a lot of work to shield ourselves against attack also proved to be a little bit of an offensive maneuver, as well.  How so?  Well, the more we created the trench with care, we found that we could successfully control the noise which would often carry over the battlefield.  With the noise concealed in the depths of the trench, the enemy virtually did not know where we were.  They would often stumble into our waiting counter-attack without a clue they had!  The enemies we face are not too dissimilar - they may not realize the value of us drawing in, hunkering down, and settling into a defensive mode!  Instead, they see us as "not moving forward" and think they have us where they want us.  In actuality, God has the enemy moving into a position whereby he will be within the reach of our most powerful weaponry - that which will spell his ultimate defeat!

I don't know about you, but sometimes "drawing in", hunkering down, and just plain being enveloped in God's protection is the best place we can find ourselves. As we consider this place of protection, remember it is best when it is enlarged - and to be enlarged requires some effort on our part.  This is one of the things the infantry was really good at - creating places of defense!  As reinforcements came into the battle, they often found the place of defense created by the infantry as a place they might find the protection they would launch their counter-attack from.  We might want to find our "foxhole" a little more often if we'd just recognize the excellent place of defense it provides for us in the midst of the battle heating up all around us!  Just sayin!

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