“Be careful, be vigilant. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8
“…for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. 2 Corinthians 11:14
It was a warm day in Viet Nam in January 1970. I was leading a two-squad patrol back to my Company perimeter. We were tired and hot, letting our guard down a bit as we knew we were drawing close to where the rest of our Company was located. We had not run into any enemy that day as we patrolled deep into the jungle, so we did not expect they would even be close to our Company position. Spontaneously the relative silence erupted with the cacophonic explosion of multiple automatic weapons, the zing of bullets flying by my head, kicking up dirt, splintering bark off trees around me, the Platoon Leader, and my radio man. Our patrol had been ambushed; never expecting it in this particular place and time. I and my radio man survived, but others were wounded as the whole Company less than 100 yards away came to our aid.
On the morning of September 11, 2001 I was in the process of finishing my retirement physical. Having been at the Pentagon just a few days before, I was now at Ft. Leonard Wood in the middle of the country. I returned to my lodging to pack and turned the TV on. What I saw seemed to be a movie, not the news. I checked again to make sure this was really the news channel. What was happening on the TV screen was unreal; the startling events totally unexpected. The nation was caught completely off-guard by an ambush of terrifying and horrendous consequences. This day life as we knew it was totally changed for the world, not just America. Thousands who went to work that morning expecting a day like any other never returned home in the evening. The “prowling enemy had struck. Ambush!
Most live their lives with no expectation that a meteor might fall on their head any moment, nor sin and the devil suddenly exact an ambush on you. There is actually little precedence for falling meteors striking you, but a car accident happens in split seconds; loved ones are snatched from your life. Healthy in the morning, cancer diagnosed in the afternoon. Equally pernicious is the Enemy’s ambush on marriage, relationships, job, stability of life; what happens suddenly is not expected. You are unaware that anything like this is so near. Or, you have become insensitive to the danger of your own pursued behavior, like the frog swimming in water growing hotter, until boiling, he cooks; in this fashion your own life comes apart at the seams. Ambush!
For the believer acquainted with God’s Word this should not be a complete surprise. The one who is sensibly alert to God’s warnings and acknowledges this life as a constant spiritual battle, knows the danger of ambush isn’t over until his Commander returns to declare victory. The believer or pseudo-believer whose mind is fogged to such warnings, never thinks there will be consequences to his behavior with alarming results suddenly exploding in his face. Ambush! Ambushes are most successful when never anticipated, and little or no guard is in place to defeat them. As in Viet Nam in 1970 or on 9/11 years after, guards go down for all sorts of reasons, and the enemy finds the time and circumstances ripe for attack. So it is for the believer particularly, who does not remain engaged in the Spirit, nor clings to the orders of his Commander, nor daily adores his Father in Heaven. The battle is not over, Christian; the Enemy is still plotting, still prowling, and his ambushes are not yet extinct.
To be standing when these ambushes are over the Christian needs armor: Ephesians 6; a familiar passage, poetically written, urgent, practical and real for your daily practice. Have you studied the individual parts of the armor as they relate to who you have become; how you live your life? Can you even recall the separate parts of this armor that make up the whole? You cannot put it on unless you understand each piece and how it must purposefully and knowledgeably be taken up by you for your protection. Wearing the armor makes you “alert, the same word as “vigilant in 1 Peter 5:8. No ambush can overcome the alert Christian.
But if this present danger is not real to you, and the Enemy is of no account in your mind, the battle is already lost and his ambush will wreak the havoc intended by this evil one who hates your very soul. The far better alternative is to cast every anxiety continually on Jesus who cares for you and who gives you this powerful promise with the means to do it, “Resist the enemy and he will flee from you! Ambush defeated!
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