“The path of life leads upward for the wise to keep him from going down to the grave (Proverbs 15:24).”
Noted historian Anthony Beevor records in his new book on D-Day that men waiting to embark for the beaches of France were pretty tense. They wanted to get the show on the road, and were nervous in the waiting.
Men did various things to deal with the situation. Some married their girlfriends before leaving. Others got drunk.
A number of the soldiers had premonitions of their impending death. One minister recorded that a soldier he knew with these feelings was resigned to his fate.
Beevor writes that “a few men cracked under the strain”. One of them armed himself and ran away. He was hunted down by his fellow troops. When he refused to surrender, he was killed.
A soldier who recorded the incident wrote,”We never did know whether he just didn’t want to die on the beach, or he was a spy. Whatever he did, it was dumb. He was a sure dead man versus a ‘maybe’.”
According to Beevor, a lot of men “took a runner” before the invasion, but most returned to be with their friends. Practical commanding officers didn’t want to lose these men to jail, so they showed mercy, giving them a chance to redeem themselves on the battlefield.
The circumstances of we Christians often seem like the experiences of these World War II soldiers. We are under a lot of pressure to perform. Christians have to work hard at being godly spouses and parents, faithful employees, and honest citizens.
Christians have a Commanding Officer who has His boot camp and operational plans in place. We Soldiers of the Cross undergo a lot of experiences that unbelievers don’t because we are at war. The civilians, those who don’t follow Jesus Christ, dance merrily along behind the lines enjoying the comforts of life while those who have enlisted for the Savior are involved in spiritual warfare.
The suffering we believers endure is necessary for long-term success. As individual members of God’s army, we need the training God is giving us in order to engage in battle. Furthermore, our particular performance in concert with other believers is essential for the final victory in the war against the enemy, Satan and his bandits.
Unfortunately, like some of the soldiers awaiting the landings on Normandy, we sometimes give way under the pressure and stress. Also like them, we deal with the strain in many ways.
At times the stress is so great we try to relieve the pain of it all by leaving God’s path. We don’t want any part of this war anymore and we want the comforts our unbelieving friends and acquaintances are experiencing. Therefore, we take our own runner.
We can do this is many ways. We might get involved in activities that God says are displeasing to Him in an effort to feel better. In addition, we may just stop participating in His plan altogether and go into hiding.
While temporarily relieving, making choices like these in order to relieve the tension isn’t a good idea. In fact, it’s just plain stupid.
God’s program may be difficult, but it’s the only way to eternal success. As individuals, we didn’t start this war, but we surely can’t avoid it. It’s going on around us whether we like it or not. We’re in dangerous waters one way or the other.
The wise man of Proverbs warns against doing a runner in the Christian life. He says,” Stern discipline awaits him who leaves the path; he who hates correction will die (Proverbs 15:10).”
God is on our side, and we’re winning. Others may have deserted, but we shouldn’t. The primary reason we shouldn’t run is that in the conflict is where God is (Psalm 14:1-5). If we want to know and experience His presence, we have to be in the battle with Him.
I’ve been on Omaha Beach in Normandy. It’s an incline, leading to some small hills that our troops had to take before crossing the causeways to more level land.
The way to victory for these men was to fight to get off that beach, and tackle those hills. Staying on the beach, they’d die. Furthermore, there was no place for them to turn tail and run. Behind them was the English Channel. Therefore, it was imperative for them to follow the orders of their officers and move forward if they wanted to live and gain victory.
Likewise, if we want life, we shouldn’t do a runner. It’s just plain dumb to do so. Instead, we should follow our Commander Jesus and storm the powers of Hell, obeying Him all the way up.