Probably my favorite quote. This is how I feel about my church family.
Why warrior stories? I ask myself this question regularly. Why do I love them so much? What is it about them that thrills me far more lastingly than any romance or drama? Why warrior stories? Unfocused and puzzled, I can’t answer the question. I feel weird and out of step with those around me. I think how strange it must be for an almost middle aged women to love Rambo 4, Lone Survivor, Black Hawk Down, Fury, We were Soldiers, and Band of Brothers. How weird am I?
Then Pastor Jarrett preaches on Luke and Eureka! I’ve got it!
I love warrior stories because I’m starving. I’m starving for stories about real men, and more than that, I’m starving for real stories about Christ.
Most movies and books, children’s bible stories, and false beliefs about Jesus center around this vision of him as a quiet, mild-mannered, limp-wristed savior. He’s a long-haired hippie preaching some kum-ba-yah type love.
But, the real Jesus, our real King is drenched in blood. Not his blood, but the blood of his enemies! He is the calmer of storms, the one who faced the Devil and prevailed, the one who faced Legion unflinchingly. He is on his white horse, our captain, and he is riding rough-shod over the Devil. But, he is a true warrior. A real warrior. It is safe at his feet. It is safe to stand in his shadow. He has faced down fallen angles in the 1000s without taking one step back. We can stand safely behind him.
See??? A real warrior is a great danger to those who attack him, and a great good to those he defends. He isn’t safe. A real warrior is never safe, but he is good.
In our female-centric world, we’ve overcompensated. We realized women were under-represented, but instead of balancing things out, we’ve told men to go sit on their hands, women have got this. We’ve neutered men. We’ve turned them into cute, little man-buns that wouldn’t hurt a fly because we were afraid. We’re afraid of strong men. Women try to make everything safe, and have forgotten how to raise warriors. Warriors aren’t safe, but they’re safe to stand behind. A true warrior is good.
Holding onto this idea is hard. The world constantly throws at us the peaceful Jesus with his weak, sad eyes. The world tells us that warriors need to go away, stop fighting. Fighting is dangerous, gross, and barbaric. Also, our battle is a spiritual one. It’s one we can’t see. Between the invisible and the world, holding onto Jesus as our Warrior King can be like grasping at bubbles. They burst in your hands, beautiful but gone.
I love the image of the sheepdog, but it lacks something. It teaches that there are people who remain blissfully ignorant about the real world, sheep. These are the kind of people that actually think they can create peace if they give up their guns, failing to realize that just makes them defenseless. These sheep would be ravaged by wolves if it weren’t for the sheepdogs. Sheepdogs defend sheep. Sheep don’t like sheepdogs. They make them nervous. But the sheepdog doesn’t really care. He just does his job and keeps the wolves from the sheep. I love this. I love sheepdogs. But, the breakdown comes when the sheepdogs start to become prideful, arrogant, and hateful towards the sheep. They stop seeing their job and they start seeing weak, dumb animals making their job harder. Now the sheep are in danger from both the wolves and the sheepdog. What do we do? How do we stop this?
We need a shepherd.
The shepherd will keep the sheepdogs in line and the sheep in line. We need an outside standard of right and wrong. We need the Word of God. We need to train unsafe, but good warriors.
I think of my husband as a warrior. He’s not in the military. He’s not a cop. But he is a strong man who thinks clearly and sharply through things, and isn’t afraid to stand up for what’s right. Now, he’s on his path to being an elder in our church. He’s going to war. He’s moving to the front lines of the spiritual battle. His weapons aren’t metal, but the Word of God. His enemy isn’t a terrorist, but false doctrines and sin threatening his church. He’s become an under-shepherd, a sheepdog. What does that look like? Pretty much the same as it always has. He’s got his boots, jeans, and button downs. He’s got his books. He’s got his beard going grayer every day. He’s not dirty. He’s not bleeding. He’s not wounded. He’s not surrounded physically. None of that is seen, but it’s all there spiritually.
Sibling-saints, we are all this way. We are at war. We are in a fight, a constant fight. See, in the spiritual war, women are mighty warriors just like men are. We are all priests. I couldn’t be a warrior in real life. I’m not strong enough. But, in the spiritual war, I can stand shoulder to shoulder with these my brothers and sisters. We, beloved saints, are bleeding, wounded, broken down warriors in this war. But we have hope!!! Our elder brother goes before us. He is mighty. He did what no man could do in the wilderness. He did what no man could do at sea, and he did what no man could do for us. Jesus is our Warrior King. He touches the sick, befriends the villain, and retrieves the dangerous. He faces legions of fallen angels and doesn’t break. He is our captain and he will see us all safely home.
I love warrior stories because my husband’s battles are largely unseen, the war I’m in is spiritual, and mostly because Jesus is the great Warrior King. Warrior stories help me remember reality.
This is why I love warrior stories. This is what I devour and this is what I write.
I love this moment in Band of Brothers. It’s the moment when Lipton realizes he has a commander he can follow. It’s simply beautiful.
I love this quote. Winters is one of military heroes. This is on a statue in Europe dedicated to him. I think this is very true, greatness can be seen in war. It gleams like a jagged diamond dropped in the mud, muck, and blood. It’s one of the reasons I come back to war stories over and over.
Emily, over at Living In Heaven’s Shadow, did a post about the top 7 influencers of her writing. I thought this was a great idea and decided to put my own little list together.
As a writer, I have been influenced by:
- J. R. R. Tolkien’s world-building, descriptions, and beautiful friendships
- Pastor Jarrett Down’s spiritual descriptions used in his sermons
- The pain, suffering, and bonding of Band of Brothers
- The Viking mythology found in Amon Amarth
- The beauty of the warriorhood of Watership Down
- The pain of losing someone while you’re talking to them in 3000 Degrees by Sean Flynn
- Lone Survivors‘ heartache, brotherhood, and “never out of the fight” mentality
Runners up are:
-Mumford and Sons’ first two albums: I could build stories out of every one of their songs
-Firefly: gotta have a crew
-The Wingfeather Saga by Andrew Peterson: stories that feel like coming home
-Mindhunter by John Douglas: creating the best and creepiest villians
-The Book of the Dun Cow, by Walter Wangerin Jr.: there is nothing I don’t love about this book
-Stories of the Seventh Son of the Seventh Son: myths are part of who we are
-Dracula by Bram Stoker: monsters can be hunted by Christians
What are your top 7 influences…and runners up? Comment below, or tag this post so I can see your list.
Rest is a concept that grows with you as you grow. I’ve been interacting with the idea of rest since I was a very young believer, you know, Sunday. The day of rest. But as a kid, rest is nap time. As a teen, rest is not something you ever want to do. Rest? Boring. You want to be living, moving, on adventures, hanging out with friends. Go. There’s life to be lived. Rest is for old people.
There is some truth to that, but what I didn’t grasp when I was young was just how hard life can get. I didn’t know how heavy ordinary, everyday things could be.
As an adult, we have never ending responsibilities. Some of them are pretty small…is there gas in the car? Navy shoes or black shoes? Some of them feel huge: taxes, children, big money choices. When we’re not making those decisions, we’re dealing with the consequences, good or bad, of decisions we made in the past. Some are small consequences…pizza yesterday means salad today. Some are huge consequences: go back to school, switch jobs, have kids. All these things, good and bad, weigh on us. They all do. It’s easy to get overwhelmed. It’s easy to want to curl up on the couch and just vegetate.
On top of all the responsibility, comes the constant frustration of our work never going perfectly. We try to feed and clothe our families and we can’t even get the laundry folded on the same day…or days. We cook a meal and it doesn’t come out like we want it. Money doesn’t come in or go out like we plan. Cars break down…generally when we need them to work most. People get sick, and stay sick. The To Do list never ends. Something that should be simple turns into something complicated. Nothing is ever perfect.
Even as an artist, things aren’t perfect. I pour my soul into my work and it never comes out like I want it to, or people don’t get it. Decorating our homes: all the measuring in the world and things still come out imperfect. Plant a garden: half the plants die and the other half get eaten, or burnt up by the sun. All the good intentions in the world coupled with diligent work can’t make things turn out right.
Imperfection haunts our every move. And this is just every day, ordinary imperfection. This doesn’t even cover all the ways our own sins destroy our lives. Our selfishness, coldness, anger, and bitterness hurt our families, our churches, and our neighbors.
Oh how we long for rest. We dream of nights not haunted with worry. We dream of days not spoiled by things again not functioning. We dream of perfect work.
As a Christian going through sanctification, rest becomes more and more dear. God graciously and gently weans us from this world and all the frustrations in it. As we age, these frustrations stack one on top of the other. We never have a day where we can face our reflection content that we have done our best. We didn’t. We were lazy. We can’t say we finished all our tasks, there is always something we didn’t get to. We can’t face ourselves and say, “Soul, this was a perfect day, rest now.” That kind of compete rest only comes in the Lord, and ultimately comes only in heaven.
As a kid, rest sounded boring. As an aging adult, it is one of the few things I can hold onto that gets me through a day. And Sundays? Our day of rest? They’re sweet beyond sweet. When I walk through the doors of the church building I think “Someday, someday this will be my every day. Someday the work will be perfectly and happily done. The ordinary, oh-so-many-papers, work will be done. I’ll love those around me without any sin, and be loved without sin in my turn. I’ll be at rest. Rest. Oh blessed thought.”
The older I get the more I long for the Lord’s Day. Each week, I long to gather with the saints to hear the preaching of the word. I long to step aside, for one day, from the world and all its chains. The day comes and it isn’t perfect. You have donkeys in the ditch. You have sickness. You have sin. But this earthly day of rest points to the heavenly rest. It points to the day I’ll join Christ, and the saints that have gone before, and really rest.
Rest doesn’t mean an eternal game of golf, it means perfection in work and recreation.
Think of that: perfection!
I will no longer end my day with regrets, wishing I had done this instead of that, wishing I’d loved my husband more and myself less, wishing I’d just rested more or rested less. Someday, I’ll be without sin.
That is true rest. True rest is really living, really living without sin, really living with Christ.
So, younger saints, know that the Lord will lead you down this path too. You will have the weight of the world slowly bend you over, even in this easy life we live as Americans in the 21st century. Start working now to have your soul ready: be in church every time the doors are open. That is the only way to make it through this thing called life with any grace.
Older saints, cling to our hope, our hope which will be fulfilled. We will see Christ. We will gather together in Heaven and perfectly rest for eternity. We will perfectly work for eternity. We will perfectly love for eternity. This life is a battle ground, but the war is already won. It’s already done. These are just the final fights. Cling to Christ. Cling to his promises. Our mighty Capitan has already gone before us. We have only to follow, and He will see us safely across the dark waters to eternal rest. Such a sweet thought.