The sloping ground shook under the Caledonians feet as they watched the Roman cohort’s lines begin to form up. The sound was relentless and horrifying and they realized in bewilderment what General Agricola was after: The granary. Pounding from leather-formed sandals now coalesced with a blast of horns that shot upward into the air careening on toward the hill’s rise at the top of Mons Graupius. As the terrible visage began to unfold before the Caledonians, the colors of red and yellow standards topped with golden adornments of each cohort’s accomplishments and victories were held high by stern-faced foot soldiers positioned directly in front; like a living advertisement that stated: “We have conquered many. We don’t lose very often and you are now next in line.”
The Caledonians had avoided the fight for quite sometime and were the last of Britain’s tribes to be subdued; but now it was either face the terrible might of Rome, OR……Starve to death during the next winter.
So, what would possess an army to turn and run downhill, just to be cut down in defeat, on the downward slope of an elevated position they held with their opponent’s numbers just about the same as their own? Fear and intimidation. Even if the Caledonians have half again as many soldiers as the Romans, more war machines, and better skilled archers, it wouldn’t have made a difference in the skirmish because they had already lost the battle in their hearts; all due to fear.
As I was reading the details of this ancient world battle earlier this past week, I realized this tactic is the most used trick by the enemy of our souls also. Fear and intimidation stratagems are often employed by the devil in front of us when we are doing well, when we are at our lowest, and the split-second after we have taken our eyes off of Jesus. Why?….Two reasons: One, because it works a great deal of the time. Two, because in battle, deception makes great strides toward winning a war.
In 1 Peter 5:8(ESV) it says: “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” The most impactful words in this verse are: Prowl and Roaring Lion. If you have ever visited the zoo and made your way to the lion enclosure, you might get a chance to watch a lion prowl around in front of its cage. It is quite an impressive display as the cat strides carefully parallel to the front of the cage but its eyes are pointed straight ahead with its piercing stare right at their prey trying to lock your gaze into theirs. If you are human at all, your spine gets a fresh layer of ice running down it because the prowl tactic is quite effective in its design; to bring fear and doubt into your heart and to make you freeze. Similarly, the roar makes a verbal blast from such a guttural low note on the music scale that its force can be felt right through the chest of a person. What I would like to point out though; is this is not a strike of a sword upon unprotected skin, but a diversionary method the devil uses designed to make us forget our “elevated position” and who we ARE in the Kingdom of God. All this, designed to get you running downslope, to be a victim of a well placed strike, for which the intention is quite clear: To Kill, Disarm, Destroy and Un–Equip you in your life; or at least, to get you to freeze.
If you have spent much time with the Lord, you have heard of the verse above and may have even memorized it. What most folks don’t do is: take the time to read the verses just below 1 Peter 5:8. Here are verses 9-11. They read: “Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.” Wow, what a great promise which takes up residence in the rest of this passage! Let me sum up: Your brothers and sisters are experiencing the same kinds of attacks; so you are NOT alone. You may suffer a little while, but because of the grace of God, He will restore, confirm, strengthen and establish you. The word that “pops” for me in the last sentence is confirm. Because, if you have accepted Jesus into your heart, the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, will confirm you; remind you that you are a son/daughter of the Most High God and you are redeemed by the blood of the Lamb. These are words that a person needs to hear when the diversionary tactic is in full swing. It is most reassuring when the God of all Creation whispers in your ear: “You are my child and nothing can snatch you out of my hands”(John 10:29).
Finally, I want to contrast for you the battle strategy of our Lord and Savior. To do that, I want us to jump in the Delorean time machine back to the early 80’s; the point of the acceptance of Jesus into my heart. Here is a quick summary of me as a young man in my early teens: My parents had just split up, I was being bullied and persecuted at school and my childhood was a little rougher than it should have been; to put it one way. At the point Jesus called to me, I was not concerned whatsoever about going to hell; I just wanted to be loved by someone unconditionally. You see, when Jesus drew up His battle plans that day to meet me in the field, the banners that He lofted high for me to see displayed just one word; one powerful and simple word: Love. God’s banner over us is love. His strategy is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. He offers His wonderful and unconditional love. At once, the second I discovered this marvelous epiphany, I dropped to my knees and asked for forgiveness of my sins. For in my heart, I yearned for the Lord to show me that love of His; the likes of which I had never known.
All day long, we are faced with decisions. We are set upon paths that eventually come to forks in the road. At the point of divergence, there reads a sign: Left arrow says: “Fear“, Right arrow says: “Love“. Which road do you want to travel? Are you tired of clicking off miles down the path of fear? If so, make a choice today to not be given over to fear in your life. Remember the tactics of the enemy of your soul VS. the plan of the Lord.
Folks, the banquet is set today. The forks are placed, just so. The napkins are arranged in a beautiful geometric design and in this banquet hall, down the giant table, seated at the head, sits Jesus. There is a place for you; take your place and remember God’s flag flies, all day and night, no matter the weather or circumstances, and it reads just one word: Love. Don’t allow the enemy to freeze you because you gave in to fear; find your place at His table and remember His reassuring love that conquers all.
Here is the verse from Song of Songs 2:4: “He brought me to the banqueting house,
and his banner over me was love.” Also, if you really want to have a song bless you, please check out Kevin Prosch’s version of “His Banner Over Me”. Give it a listen on iTunes, Rhapsody or whatever service you might have.
No poem today. I know this was a long post but I felt strongly that the Lord wanted me to share this with everyone.
Please take the time to comment, repost, “like” here and on Twitter and Facebook, and MOST of all, tell others what you read here today.
The Great Plains Poet, frequent guest at God’s banquet hall and partaker of His unconditional love.
God Bless you all and if you have any questions for me, please email.