In June of 1942, during the first year of WWII, there was a battle in the Pacific between the navies of the United States and Imperial Japan. The Battle of Midway was a unique battle because the opposing forces never got close enough to see each other. It was a battle— actually a series of battles over three days—waged by the airplanes from each side’s aircraft carriers, as the US resisted Japan’s attempt to take the Midway Islands. A loss would have presented a dire threat to Hawaii.
During the first day of the engagement, an American pilot—Ensign George Gay—was shot down. Ensign Gay landed safely in the ocean, climbed into his life raft, and spent the duration of the battle as a water-borne observer. I was recently a similar observer between two opposing forces: not military in nature, but spiritual. Last week I experienced a battle between Satan and God. For me.
Several weeks ago I joined a Gospel Outreach (GO) Team. After attending the first Monday evening class, but before ever going out into the community, Satan convinced me that doing so would be a waste of my time. I was convinced that the people to whom I would be speaking weren’t worth the effort, especially those who did not comport themselves well. I went back and forth about going or not going until finally I gave notice that I was withdrawing from the team. It was as if Satan had sunk one of my carriers.
The team leader, Jake, responded with disappointment and invited me to share with him my reasons for withdrawing. I did, without attacking him or the organization, after which he invited me to meet him for a coffee to chat. “No pressure,” he said. We agreed to meet after church the following Sunday morning.
Sunday morning came and I was off to church. Pastor Afshin was back and in the pulpit. I was happy to see him, although I was still troubled. Afshin was teaching from Luke 12: Be Dressed for Action. And that’s when God Almighty—struck back. The charge was to be dressed for action, with my girdle cinched over my robe, in order to run or fight unencumbered. Be awake. Be on guard, because the master promised to return, but we don’t know when. I must take care of His business and guard His possessions as if they were my own. He gave me much, so I have much to give back. Powerful. I don’t know when I’d seen my pastor so emphatic, so forceful. Those people out there are MY responsibility. I am to reach them for Christ.
And then he was finished, except for the prayer. And when the prayer began my precious wife knew in an instant that I had been strongly affected. Tears. The whole bit. Satan’s last aircraft carrier was sunk and God was victorious. Having been shot down, but not defeated, I was there floating in my life raft to witness the tactics God employed to win the Battle of My Participation in The Great Commission. Amen.
Footnote: I met Jake for coffee as we planned. We sat and I said, “With your permission, I want to rescind my withdrawal.” Of course, he immediately accepted and I answered his obvious question: what happened?!
Later that afternoon I went out with two others to a nearby apartment complex, where we spoke with several people, shared our faith with two, and thanked God for the opportunity.
I went from my spot with Ensign Gay as an observer of the battle to an active participant, dressed for action, and engaged in the war. Ensign Gay had nothing on me.