Save Your Strength

by Barbara Ann Oliver

My dad fought in World War II. He never talked about it. The only story he ever told was something that happened on the way over to Europe.

The ship he was on had a boxing tournament, and Dad won the tournament. They got close to another ship, and the challenge was delivered: Your best fighter against our best fighter. Dad was a young boy, fresh off the farm, strong from working the fields. He was pretty cocky, as most young men are, and he was more than ready to face any opponent.

The champ from the other ship arrived and the match was set. Dad climbed into the ring and came face-to-face with a behemoth of a man. The bell rang and BAM! The giant hit him right between the eyes. Dad rocked back, put his fists down and said, “If you want this fight that badly, you can have it.” And he crawled out of the ring.

Of course, we all laughed uproariously when Dad told this story. Funny though, we never thought of him as a coward. Actually, we thought he was pretty smart. The young man from the other ship was not his enemy. He was his comrade in arms, the guy who might be in the next foxhole, the guy who might have to cover him as he ran up the beach, the guy he might have to drag back down the beach to a waiting medic, or worse.

Dad knew an important thing: some things are worth fighting for, others are not. Smart men know the difference. Dad was on his way to fight the real enemy, a fight so gruesome that he could never bring himself to talk about it.

I wonder how much of our time in the church is spent fighting with the guy in the pew next to us, while the real enemy, Satan, goes about his evil work unscathed. Sometimes we get so caught up in interpersonal battles that we forget that our fight is against the prince of the powers of the air (Ephesians 2:2).

We don’t want to fight with the guy in the next pew. We want the guy in the next pew to fight beside us. Let us fight together to overcome the guy standing in the way of the goal.

Save your strength so you can fight the real enemy.

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Barbara A Oliver

Barbara Ann Oliver has worked with the church in Costa Rica for many years and serves as the associate editor for Forthright Magazine.

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