A number of years ago, I attended an advanced firearms training course for law enforcement agents. During one of the exercises, we discussed what to do in an ambush. What do you do if bullets start coming your way when you weren’t expecting them? Our instructor said that there were two schools of thought as to what you should do first.
One school says you should immediately find cover. Find something that will stop a bullet and get behind it. It will be harder for your attacker to hit you while you’re running and once you are behind cover, you can assess the situation, call for back up, and return fire from a safer position.
The second school of thought says accurate returned fire is the first point of cover. In other words, if you can face the source of the ambush and accurately send your own rounds in that direction, you can hopefully buy time to assess and find cover. You know how this works from playing dodgeball. The kid who is winding up to throw the ball at you has to stop and react when you get your throw off first. You bought some time to move as he has to figure out what to do with what’s coming at him.
After he explained those two approaches, I remember a feeling like time had stopped. I was stuck in my head as I tried to calculate which option was best. “Don’t get this wrong”, I thought. “This could be the difference between life and death.” After what felt like quite some time, but surely was only a moment, the instructor said something that snapped me into clear focus. He said, “Look, I don’t care which one you choose, just do something!” Do something. That was it. That was the key in that situation. The only wrong answer was to freeze and do nothing. Both options were viable, but you had to do something!
In the decade since I took that course, I have found myself thinking about that moment of instruction with some regularity. I think about it as it may save my life one day while I’m working. That’s true, but it’s not why I most often think of that moment.
In the 14 years since I started in law enforcement, I have never been in such a situation. I have, though, daily faced an adversary who seeks my life. 1 Peter 5:8 says, “Be sober minded: be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” And the next verse starts with, “Resist him, firm in your faith…” The principles of the exercise in that firearms course fit 1 Peter 5 and that is most often why I think of that day.
There are many strategies for resisting the devil. Sometimes it will be necessary to run for cover. Sometimes you will need to turn and face the source of the lies with truth. Most importantly you must resist him. Do something. Don’t just sit there and let the attack happen. Do something. And while you fight, while you resist, take comfort from the rest of the passage:
“Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world…” — You are not alone.
“And after you have suffered a little while…” — It will feel much longer when the bullets are flying, but it is a little while in light of eternity.
“…the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.” — You can’t beat that kind of back up.