But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold. My feet have closely followed his steps; I have kept to his way without turning aside.I have not departed from the commands of his lips; I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my daily bread (Job 23:10-12).”
Today is the 67th anniversary of D-Day, in my view the most important battle involving America in the 20th century. Victory on that day led to the defeat of Nazi Germany.
I had the opportunity to visit the D-Day beaches with my oldest son a few years ago. It was the main item on my travel “bucket list” and I was very satisfied with my tour.
The anniversary of D-Day conjures up images in my mind of soldiers zigzagging their way up the beach to avoid enemy fire. Even animals know the importance of zigzagging.
Have you ever wondered why squirrels zig zag back and forth in front of your car? It’s not, as one Internet wit notes, because they have been put up to it by their squirrel fraternity brothers as a form of hazing.
Squirrels aren’t stupid, even though they have small brains and it appears they have a death wish when they run out in front of your car. In their animal brains, they believe your car is a predator and the zigzag maneuver is meant to confuse you.
Why do you think the British called one of their most successful spies in World War II “Agent Zig Zag”? Eddie Chapman was a double agent, tricking the Germans into believing he was on their side, being hailed as a hero by them, and at the same time passing information on to England.
Eddie Chapman’s actions were hard to cipher. The Washington Post called him “an endlessly fascinating figure, a man who would save your life one day and steal your watch the next”.
Indeed, Chapman was a criminal who was in prison when the Nazis captured the British Channel Island of Jersey. It was after his release that he began to supposedly spy for the Germans.
Chapman is an enigmatic figure. On the one hand, he was a rogue, and on the other a hero, saving a lot of lives with the information he gave his country.
Despite his heroism, a British officer had him hounded out of the British spy service after World War II because he believed Chapman to be a degenerate. The Washington Post says of him: “It’s amusing, at this point, to see how the more aristocratic Brits couldn’t quite believe that this degenerate, this criminal, could be a patriot. But Eddie Chapman was a patriot, in his fashion..”.
I believe a lot of Christians are like Eddie Chapman, including yours truly at times. In fact, many of us could be called “Saint Zig Zag”.
One minute we believers are following Jesus heroically, and the next one we are making a sharp turn the other direction and going Satan’s way. We’re like double agents in the spiritual war we are in.
I think sometimes we zig zag because we see God as the enemy. Because of this, we make quick alterations in our course to avoid Him.
We mistake the enemy fire we are undergoing as coming from the Lord. In fact, it is the Devil who is taking shots at us.
Other times we are zig zagging, helter sketler, because we are looking for God, but can’t find Him. This is how Job described this type of zig zag.:
“But if I go to the east, he is not there;
if I go to the west, I do not find him.
When he is at work in the north, I do not see him;
when he turns to the south, I catch no glimpse of him (Job 23:9).”
The ancient people of God, the Israelites, were noted zigzaggers. At times they followed God and at other times…well, you know. For example, because of their sinfulness and lack of courage, they had to zig zag their way through the desert to the Promised Land instead of going straight to the target.
God could have defeated the enemies the Israelites feared up ahead. However, they had their own double agents who spread a bad report, and their people believed it. They had to alter the course God had planned for them as a result.
God said this of the Israelites at one time:
“Woe to the obstinate children,”
declares the LORD,
“to those who carry out plans that are not mine,
forming an alliance, but not by my Spirit,
heaping sin upon sin (Isaiah 30:1);”
Isaiah records how the Israelites allied themselves with Egypt for protection instead of God. They paid Egypt a nice bounty, sending them riches on donkeys (Isaiah 30:6-7).
Israel could have used Balaam’s donkey. Even his donkey knew enough to zig zag when you make an enemy of God.
God had told Balaam not to curse the Israelites as their enemies in the Promised Land wanted. Balaam went ahead anyway to meet the Israelites, although God instructed him to only say what was commanded.
God didn’t like the fact that Balaam made the trip at all and put an angel in the way on the trail. The donkey tried to avoid the angel and Balaam beat him.
This is when God gave the donkey the ability to talk. It complained to Balaam of his mistreatment.
In fact, the donkey was protecting himself and Balaam. The angel would have killed Balaam and spared the donkey. (See Numbers 22 for this story.)
This morning I was walking and praying on a recreational trail in our county. I was enjoying my hike next to the railroad, listening to a train whistle in the distance.
I was about to walk over the place where the tracks crossed the trail when I spotted movement on the crossing. Right in front of me was an animal I knew to be a skunk.
I had no desire to tangle with that little beast. I know from the smells emanating around our area this morning what it could do.
I backed away and waited for it to mosey off into the high grass before I continued on. When God or a skunk stands in your way, you’d be stupid to go on.u
God isn’t up there like the skunk to oppose us, however. He is leading us on our path in His grace to protect us.
He told the Israelties, despite their zig zagging:
Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you;
therefore he will rise up to show you compassion.
For the LORD is a God of justice.
Blessed are all who wait for him!
People of Zion, who live in Jerusalem, you will weep no more. How gracious he will be when you cry for help! As soon as he hears, he will answer you. Although the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, your teachers will be hidden no more; with your own eyes you will see them. Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” (Isaiah 30:18-21)
On D-Day the Germans were duped, not by Agent Zig Zag, but by another double agent named Agent Garbo. Garbo led Hitler to believe that the attack on the Normany beaches was a diversion and Hitler did not respond as he should have.
Garbo was a complete fake. In fact, he gained the trust of the Germans by sending them reports about Britain he researched in the public library in his city in Portugal.
At the moment, I feel as if I am a soldier zig zagging his way up Omaha Beach on D-Day. There’s all kinds of information coming at me from different sources.
I know God is up there leading me somewhere, but like Job, I can’t see him. There’s too much smoke from the combat and a lot of disinformation from the Enemy.
It would behoove me, as I make one of my zigs or zags, to turn my head and listen to God, as Job did. I can’t see two feet in front of my face because of the smoke of battle, but He is up ahead and He knows the way. It’s the way to safety and victory.