“You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain (Psalm 139:5,6).”
Jimmy McNulty is a detective enjoying a Saturday out with his two boys. Theyare browsing around a Baltimore farmer’s market when McNulty spots Stringer Bell, an elusive leader of the Barksdale drug gang.
In an episode of the hit TV series “The Wire” called “Lessons”, McNulty tells his sons to employ a game he has taught them called “Front and Follow”. One boy walks in the path Bell is facing while the other tails him from behind.
McNulty doesn’t follow Bell himself. The crook knows who he is.
Bell leads them out into the street outside the market area. There he gets into his car.
One of the boys steps aside and takes out a pen and paper. He writes down the license number of Bell’s car before the mobster drives away.
The technique their Dad taught them has proven to be quite effective. There was no way they were going to lose sight of Stringer Bell.
The kids are so good at this spy game that not only do they get valuable information about a criminal, but they lose their father. McNulty, having lost sight of his boys, ends up having to get the market management to help him find them.
With the boys’ effective strategy, Bell has no idea that he is being followed. He has no clue that people who are perilous to his welfare are lurking around.
In this world, believers in Jesus Christ have the same problem as Bell. We are being tailed by some expert followers of Satan who wish to do us harm.
According to the Apostle Paul, Satan is pretty good at blinding people, especially those who have chosen to ignore God and reside under his authority. The devil and his minions are out of sight, but they are doing their own version of “Front and Follow” in order to get the goods on their targets (II Corinthians 4:4).
If you you think Satan is not alive or well today, or some guy parodied at a Halloween party, think again. Better yet, pick up a copy of Bill Scott’s book “The Day Satan Called.”
In this book Scott relates a true story of his encounter with a demon at the radio station where he once worked. The call was initially handled by a colleague.
When Scott first met with the situation, the coworker had just gotten off the phone and was white as a ghost. He related to Scott that he had just talked to a demon.
Scott was skeptical at first. However, once he took one of the calls, he too was quite scared.
The actual calls were placed by a 16-year old girl who claimed she was living in a witches coven and would be sacrificed on Halloween, which was coming in a few days. She would then be interrupted by a demon, who would come on the line in a voice that was not human and spit out venom, blasphemy and threats.
While not blind to spiritual things like those who do not follow God, believers are still subject to Satan’s “Front and Follow” techniques. Paul himself didn’t see the devil visually, but he felt him. Paul wrote,”We are hard pressed on every side (II Corinthians 4:8a)”.
The Scriptures discuss not only our openness to the devices of Satan, but also to the world system under his control (I John 2: 15-17; I John 5:19). We are surrounded by an increasingly chaotic culture in which right and wrong have been turned upside down.
David Jeremiah notes that believers are under a lot of pressure to conform to the culture today. In a message calling for the Christian to be totally consumed by commitment to Jesus Christ he says:
“We are in a very vulnerable place in our nation and in our churches. If we continue down the road of just trying to be Christian enough so that we can get counted on the roll, we are going to be victimized by the culture in which we live.”
It is as if the believer is a submarine being hunted by an enemy on the surface whom they cannot see. However, the “ping, ping, ping” of the sonar is there.
When the attacks come, our boat is subject to collapse under the pressure. If we don’t have internal fortitude, the stress will kill us if the external bombs don’t.
Thus, not only do we have to battle against Satan and the world system, but also fight our own selves. This is why it is so necessary to have the radical commitment to Christ Jeremiah talks about.
He summarizes one of Paul’s arguments for this: “If we’re going to function, if we’re going to be faithful in this culture, you have to present everything there is about you to everything you know about Him.”
One of the things I do know about God is that He is omnipresent. He is present everywhere.
God is not controlled by space. He is not limited by time. Thus, there is no ability for us to slip out of His sight (Jeremiah 23:23,24; Hebrews 4:13).
God also doesn’t fall asleep at the switch. He constantly has His eye on things. The Psalmist writes:
He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
The LORD watches over you—
the LORD is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.
The LORD will keep you from all harm—
he will watch over your life;
the LORD will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore. (Psalm 121:3-8).
Another thing I know about God is that He calls Himself our Father. However, he is not a Dad cut in the mode of a Jimmy McNulty.
He is completely “all that”. Our Father will not lose track of us. In fact, He wouldn’t put young boys up to a dangerous surveillance mission of a mobster either.
Indeed, God has His own version of “Front and Follow” which He engages in on His own. While Satan and his demons are out there spying on us, God has His own eyes on those evil beings on our behalf.
The only difference is that God doesn’t need two of Himself to play the game! It’s mind boggling.