Now the Philistines fought against Israel; the Israelites fled before them, and many fell dead on Mount Gilboa. The Philistines were in hot pursuit of Saul and his sons, and they killed his sons Jonathan, Abinadab and Malki-Shua. The fighting grew fierce around Saul, and when the archers overtook him, they wounded him critically.
Saul said to his armor-bearer, “Draw your sword and run me through, or these uncircumcised fellows will come and run me through and abuse me.”
But his armor-bearer was terrified and would not do it; so Saul took his own sword and fell on it. When the armor-bearer saw that Saul was dead, he too fell on his sword and died with him. So Saul and his three sons and his armor-bearer and all his men died together that same day.
- 1 Samuel 31:1-6
I was thinking of people that I had been talking to about Jesus. Some people do not want to listen. At times you feel surrounded by those who oppose you. It seemed a hopeless situation, and then I thought of an old military exercise that I was part of, back when the Vietnam War was still going on. I wondered if there was a spiritual equivalent.
A spiritual equivalent of what? Mel Gibson in a 2002 war movie, We Were Soldiers, might call for “Broken Arrow.” He called an airstrike onto his own position, hoping that the Air Force could tell the difference in his men and the enemy soldiers. If the napalm was just a little off, it was suicide.
In a training exercise in ROTC in the hills of North Carolina, I did that once, the broken arrow thing. We had a two-day exercise. We landed by helicopter, and we set up defensive positions. Members of the 82nd Airborne Division, fresh back from Vietnam, were the aggressors. They were late for the party, so they landed where we had landed and walked through our position to set up as the enemy against us, but they also scoped out where the machine gun nests were. I was very good at dismantling and reassembling the M-60 machine gun blindfolded. I broke it down, in the dark, pretending to be asleep, but really lying on top of the parts. Not knowing where one machine gun was located made the aggressors angry. They hit our foxhole with an artillery simulator at close range, injuring both me and my ammo bearer. The ammo bearer took the worst of the blast, superficial cuts, dirt in the eyes. By daybreak, we were fine except for a few scratches. They had removed the whistle, so there was no warning, premeditated thought of causing harm.
Our platoon, with me in charge, established rear guard for our unit as we advanced on foot the next day. We captured some of the aggressors. We were told to let the POWs go. The aggressors were on the same radio frequency that we were. They knew everything that we were doing, but the commander refused to change frequencies. Then we set up for the ultimate frontal assault. We were now on the left flank and the platoon next to us was not paying attention, allowing the aggressors to overrun their position. My platoon, the one that hid a machine gun and had the audacity to capture members of the greatest fighting force ever assembled (I know, a few units might disagree) … My platoon was surrounded, and the enemy was angry that a bunch on tin-horn rookies could best them twice. I suggested our own version of “Broken Arrow.” The guy acting as the platoon sergeant that day agreed. A third guy figured out our map coordinates. I double-checked the map and a fourth guy called it in on the radio. Team effort, my call. I called in an airstrike on my own position. Our advantage was that we knew it was coming. If they had not been listening in on the radio, they would be exposed and not know what was coming. We might have enough time to gain cover to protect ourselves. Otherwise, it was suicide, but taking the enemy out with us.
But this was a training exercise, and the aggressors were listening in on the radio conversation. The Air Force was not on the way, but our aggressors, having heard every word, stood up to show they were only yards away. They laughed. We had bested them twice, but they won the final battle.
If you do not mind a bloody war scene, here is the Broken Arrow scene from We Were Soldiers.
What does that have to do with evangelizing? If done properly, not much.
When I love someone so much that I wanted them to share eternity with me in Heaven, why would I think of the equivalent of spiritual suicide as the answer to the frustrating problem when people that you love do not want to listen to the Truth?
There are positive and negative answers to that question.
For the positive, Jesus said that no greater love can be shown than for someone to lay down his life for his friends. I was willing to have the uncomfortable conversation while most people that say they are Christians remained mute. I had a passion to say what I needed to say, and a love for those I was talking to.
For the negative, I had lost my focus. God is the one who convicts the other person of their sins. I cannot tell them; they must feel it inside, usually long before the conversation ever starts. And when you get frustrated, you are trying to put the monkey on your back, not relying upon God. And when you deeply care for that specific person, you are too close to the situation to make the rational decision to back away. You know what is coming: eternal glory or eternal torment. It hurts when someone you love does not listen, or worse, acts out in defiance.
Then you must also realize that God is the one who writes the names into the Book of Life. You are not in charge of that. It is above your paygrade.
Jesus promises to wipe away our tears and that there will be no pain or sorrow in Heaven.
I guess I must spend more time in prayer and do my weeping now. Life, with or without God, is not a training exercise where people do not get injured, at least not lasting wounds. This is eternity, but some have closed their minds and hardened their hearts. They do not see it that way.
But I shall pray and leave my broken arrow in the quiver.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.