Creating Spiritual Minefields
Military tactics are essential to winning wars. From swords, archers and axes to guns, fighter planes and tanks there are handbooks and tactics to using it all. One of the military's weapons is the minefield. Listen to one of the definitions of a minefield: In military science, minefields are considered a defensive or harassing weapon, used to slow the enemy down, to help deny certain terrain to the enemy, to focus enemy movement into kill zones, or to reduce morale by randomly attacking material and personnel. The minefield is a nasty and very effective weapon against the enemy. But, now let me bring your mind to that of the spiritual world. Think about the definition I just gave you and think about what Satan does to us. Does he harass us? Does he slow us down? Does he not force us into kill zones or reduce moral by randomly attacking us?
The devil places before us pitfalls, traps and ensnarements, but the worst part of it all is that we are warned about those things ahead of time - some are very tactically and strategically hidden from view, but either way, we often still tread without a care in the world into the minefield and often get blown up by what happens to our lives and our faith often takes massive damage by the well placed mine. We often get wounded, broken and confused when we step into something we are not expecting. How does Satan do such a good job at attacking us? He studies us, he watches us, he knows our facial expressions, our body language—he knows us very well. He waits patiently, crouching down ready to place those mines before us without any warning. He has been doing his job since the beginning of time and we have much that we must look out for in our lives.
Even worse than the enemy placing mines before us, is the fact the he is so cleaver that he has us place the mines ourselves. He uses us to do his dirty work; he uses our own emotions, temptations and sinful nature to destroy ourselves.
Let me give you some examples of spiritual landmines. The first is in a Gospel reading from Saint Matthew 18:23-35, The Lord said this parable: "The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. When he began the reckoning, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents; and as he could not pay, his lord ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, 'Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.' And out of pity for him the lord of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. But that same servant, as he went out, came upon one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and seizing him by the throat he said, 'Pay what you owe.' So his fellow servant fell down and besought him, 'Have patience with me, and I will pay you.' He refused and went and put him in prison till he should pay the debt. When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their lord all that had taken place. Then his lord summoned him and said to him, 'You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you besought me; and should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?' And in anger his lord delivered him to the jailors, till he should pay all his debt. So also my heavenly Father will do to everyone of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart."
Because the servant would not extend the same forgiveness to his fellow servant, he placed before himself a landmine that placed him prison. All he had to do was follow the point man, Jesus, through the minefield and he would have been saved, but we often go off by ourselves and lose sight of Jesus and the next thing we know, a massive explosion and pain. A second example is a modern one and I will use myself as the point. I have lost 177 lbs, a fact that I am very proud of, but the simple and plain truth is that how did I allow myself to get to that point in the first place. For a few years, I ate and ate and ate. I placed one landmine before me after the other then I would step on them. I knew what eating all the things I was eating was doing to me, I knew that using food as a crutch for my emotions was not a good idea, but, I still allowed myself to step on those landmines that I placed before myself. We are often aware of the sin we commit, but even more often we are our own worst enemies. We defeat ourselves - our minds are so powerful that we set ourselves up to fail. It is true what is said about giving the devil his due, but sometimes we need to take credit for screwing up our own lives.
Now, with that being said, there are ways to traverse through minefields of our lives. First and most importantly is following a point man, who is one that can show you a safe path through the danger. Of course, for the Christian, the point man who we should follow is Christ Himself. He has already defeated death; He has paved the way to our salvation and has traversed the landscape of hell to defeat the enemy on His own ground. Jesus has also allocated a number of individuals, who hopefully are following Him, to be point men also. Individuals who have dedicated their lives to Jesus as priests, pastors and teachers are a type of point man that can help us traverse the minefields of this life. We are an army of faithful who need to rely on each other, and need each other to watch out for things that we may not see.
The military also created specialized mechanized units called mine sweepers, tanks that have a spool of spinning chains that pave a safe path before the troops. The chains safely blow up the mines without destroying the machine or soldier driving it. This I likened to the Church. Now, when I speak of the Church, this time I speak of the foundations and principles of the Church. The sacraments and life of a follower in a church is rudimentary to a safe life. It is true, we find a lot of evil in the church, but that evil is found in certain individuals that are planting the landmines before themselves and the faithful. Those people are not the Church, but an infected portion of the people. Wherever there is freewill, there will be those who follow after evil instead of after good, being a “Christian” does not make a person invulnerable to evil, as a matter-of-fact it makes the person more susceptible to the mines planted before them. Satan is in the darkness of the night, however, he is even more in the churches, seminaries and homes of the faithful. Jesus came to save us, Satan is here to destroy us.
We must lookout for the landmines in our lives. They are deceptive and well placed more often than in plain view. Anything and anyone can be a landmine that can disable us from our path to salvation. Notice I said disable, and not completely stop us. Satan can only and has only enough power as we give him. We have the choice to follow the point man into battle, and as a matter-as-fact we often do not even need to go into the battlefield. We fight wars that have already been one by Christ, the problem is that we often get into situations that we are unaware of and by the time we see the danger the mine has exploded and left us wounded, frustrated and angry. We need to let Jesus fight the battles for us and only take up the weapons of our warfare to fend off the attacks of the wicked, and even then, if we are truly following after Christ He would take care of those problems too.
We need to have the courage to take up our cross and follow after the One who has already won the war. We need the courage to follow after His teaching of forgiveness, love and true acceptance. We need to not judge, nor speak evil of others and learn to lead lives of truth and live as true Christian examples. We, the Christians of this world, are often the landmines before the unbelievers, for we have the truth and yet we do all that is damaging in the sight of the world. Let us lay down our will, give the devil his due, and let Christ lead us through the minefields of life.