On the morning of September 8, 2009, Army Captain William D. Swenson traveled by foot toward an rural Afghani community to meet with the village elders.
On the way, they were ambushed by more than 50 well-armed, well-positioned insurgent fighters.
The enemy flanked Swenson and the other Coalition Forces on three sides. As the enemy unleashed grenades, mortar, and machine gun fire, Swenson returned fire.
Surrounded on three sides, Swenson worked to coordinate air assets, indirect fire support, and medical-evacuation helicopter support to clear the wounded.
But, the battle intensified. Beneath a hail storm of enemy fire, Swenson voluntarily led a team into the kill zone three times to recover the wounded and search for the missing.
After six hours of continuous fighting, Swenson rallied his teammates and disrupted the enemy assault.
Army Captain William D. Swenson served his country and his fellowmen with valor.
From his Roman house-prison, Paul wrote to encourage them to serve God and one another with valor.
Their battle, and ours, was not against flesh and blood. Their enemy was not Taliban fighters or barbarian invaders. Their enemy was not their neighbors who mocked their faith or the Roman government that both protected and oppressed them. But their enemy was very real. And he’s the same enemy who stands against us today.
Paul’s language to the Philippian church was warfare language. He conveys a sense of holding the line, fighting shoulder to shoulder, and refusing to let minor skirmishes distract us from the battle at hand.
Paul gives the Philippian church, and you and me three key strategies for living a life worthy of the gospel of Christ.
1. Stand firm in one spirit
Don’t let petty arguments divide. Work for harmony in your relationships with other believers. Keep Jesus the main thing. This is hard to do because we all have our preferences. We have a tendency to divide over preferences and personalities. When we become known for what we’re against rather than who we love, we hurt the name of Christ and fail to live a life worthy of the gospel of Christ. Stand firm in one spirit.
2. Strive side by side
Struggle together as athletes on the field, or soldiers in battle. Keep the goal in mind. Stop competing and start collaborating. Look ahead forgetting what is behind and press forward. Zealously partner with believers advancing faith in your family, your church, your community. Strive side by side.
3. Expect opposition
Not only do we have a common goal, but we have a common enemy. He is a roaring lion seeking to steal, kill, and destroy. He tempts you. He seeks to blind you, mislead you, discourage you, and stop you from living out your faith. He wants to keep you out of fellowship with other believers and he wants to keep you out of God’s word. Don’t let him. Don’t be tempted to think that the fearful things you are facing are signs that God is not with you. In fact, it’s the very opposite. The fact that the enemy hates what you are doing is a sign that God is with you. When you keep your eyes on Christ and are undaunted by the enemy’s threat, you are living a life worthy of the gospel. Don’t be frightened. Expect opposition.
The Battle of Ganjgal Valley was not without controversy. But, despite different perspectives, Army Captain William D. Swenson will receive the Medal of Honor for his courageous action during the battle.
We can be sure that when we partner with Christ and with each other to advance the Kingdom of God, we will face opposition. And we may face controversy. But regardless of enemy fire, opposition, or controversy, we can live in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Women of valor, are you with me?
Do any of these strategies match a challenge you are currently facing in your life? What other strategies do you find helpful in your pursuit of a life that is worthy of the gospel of Christ? Leave me a comment or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. And, make sure you don’t miss a post by putting your email address in the subscribe box located up-and-to-the right.
We are in Week 5 of at the Riverside. Monday – Thursday, I post a verse-by-verse devotional from the book of Philippians. Friday we review and I send you into the weekend with a few questions to consider. This devotional is written for the busy woman who wants to spend time in the Bible each day, but has a hard time fitting it into her daily routine. However, I’m finding that some women are using it to spur longer quiet times in which they sit down with their Bible, pray, and even journal what the Lord is speaking to them. I’d love to hear how you are using at the Riverside.