Their rifles leaned against the tables and chairs in the middle of the restaurant, the four young ladies seemed unaware of our fascination. The eight of us had never been to Israel before, and had not yet gotten used to the ongoing, open display of weaponry. We were beginning to aim our cameras when our tour guide stopped us. Were we being culturally inappropriate? Giving away wartime secrets? Exposing these soldiers to dangerous exposure? “No”, he said, “It’s just that they are not soldiers, they are secretaries.”
We discovered that regardless of their role, everyone in the army is required to carry their weapon at all times. A few visits later this rule came into focus when my friend picked me up from my hotel. It seems that on his route to the office a terrorist had jumped on a piece of construction machinery and driven it into traffic, trying to do as much damage as possible. A nearby off-duty officer leveled his weapon and saved an unknown number of lives because he was armed and prepared for an attack.
The citizens of Israel live in a constant state of readiness. The nation is surrounded by hostile enemies. These enemies often attack internally using stealth and surprise rather than frontal assaults. Notice I said, “readiness” and not “fear”. Readiness simply means alert, armed and prepared. It is amazing how being convinced that the enemy is real and among them keeps them prepared for engagement.
They do not dwell on the battle, nor does the battle define them. They live ready. In many ways, they are more fully alive because they are aware that an enemy lives among them . It is a fact of life, for which the entire nation and every individual has prepared. The enemy among them does not prevent them from living in freedom. They refuse to surrender the daily lives they live and the callings they fulfill.
For us to step fully into the life we live on earth, we must remain alert and ready. The battle is all around us. It should not define us, but we must remain alert.
You carry in you something that the enemy of your soul fears and hates. You carry the image of God Himself. In the deep places of your heart, a flame burns with love, and unshakeable joy. Unchanging peace, and unwavering compassion, these are all your birthright as a born-again child of God. Theses attributes in your heart burn to be expressed in your life. From the inside out, God intends for His nature to flow through you to the world around you. The world around you will try to push it back. Be prepared to defend it. Remain loving, be fiercely at peace. Love so much that the room you step into is changed by it. Engage the world with the kind of compassion that heals shrunken hearts. And be prepared to be attacked.
The devil wants to take the territory of your heart before it overflows into the geography you occupy. Keep your weapons nearby, be sure your training is current. Though the war does not define us, failure to engage could prevent us from living our defined purpose.
Remember we are at war and live in earth-shaking peace.