Fight in the shade

Art can speak volumes. Its message is often more profound and penetrating than mere words alone. As I continue to press on in my fascination with fighting and films, I find myself grateful for those movies with a redeeming message I can hold on to.

A well-remembered takeaway comes from the film, 300.

If you are familiar with it, you know it is an R-rated adaptation of a comic book. I know that doesn’t sound like an appropriate cultural experience to provide spiritual enlightenment, but hang with me. The comic book is a fictionalized account of the Battle of Thermopylae, where 300 Greek soldiers, led by King Leonidas of Sparta, fought against the vast armies of the Persian King Xerxes.

I’m most struck by the absolute resolve and determination of the Spartans to stand for their country, their way of life, their freedom. It was what they were born for, what they were bred for. I’m not so impressed with the nationalism. It’s not about that. I’m jealous for their razor-like focus, undivided loyalty, and unquestioning allegiance to purpose.

Some of you may feel the need to chastise me for watching the film. You may be right. It’s very bloody, has nudity and it is not befitting for viewing in your church parlor. But I cannot help but be mesmerized and energized by the tenacity and boldness of the Spartans.

If you have seen the film, you’ll surely remember the scene in which a Persian emissary tells a Spartan soldier that the Persians arrows will be so numerous as to blot out the sun. To that the undaunted Spartan soldier replies, “Then we will fight in the shade.”

Yes. That is it, to look at our battles through a different set of eyes, to look at our battles as opportunities to fight in the shade. God told Isaiah to do just that - to fight, to obey, to speak the words, to do whatever it is he was called to do - to do it under the protection of the God who made him.

I have put my words in your mouth and covered you with the shadow of my hand. Isaiah 51:16a

God promises the coverage of His hand. He promises if we trust Him, leave the battles to Him, then we will indeed fight in the shade. He also assured Isaiah He had already given him what he needed to do the job he was called to. Isaiah was a messenger. His job was to speak. I’m a writer. My job is to write. Because of that, I always fondly remember Psalm 144:1. I love the King James Version,

Blessed be the Lord my strength which teacheth my hands to war, and my fingers to fight.

I like the idea that my fingers can fight. That’s a huge reason having RA causes me such pause. My fingers are my weapons. If they aren’t in fighting shape, I’m at a distinct disadvantage. Actually, my fingers are the outlet to which I throw down the real weapon, Scripture.

What’s your job? Are you a banker? Then bank. Are you a homemaker? Then make a home. Are you a chef? Then cook. But...do it under the hand of the One who made you whatever it is that you are.

Although the small number of Spartan forces did eventually fall, their last stand is now famous. I long for that courage, that resolve to not back down. Yes. Fight in the shade. Why not fight in the shade? It’s so much cooler.