Several years ago I was meeting my cousin Lafe for dinner. Having arrived at the restaurant quite a bit early, I took the side of the booth that faced the door so I could wave when he arrived. He came in wearing a cap and sunglasses with small lenses, looking—as I’d thought so often before—like the perfect poster guy for an ad about the military.
Instead of sitting down in the empty spot, Lafe nudged me out of my seat. “I need to face the door,” he said. My puzzled look brought this response: “Ever since ’nam.” Lafe had been a soldier in Vietnam, sure. But good grief, that was more than 35 years before. His tight-lipped expression, though, stopped me from pressing.
That scene has stuck in my mind. The difference between Lafe’s viewpoint and mine was, of course, that he’d had military experience being on guard against enemies who knew how to be sneaky and who might want to kill him—but I had never been in that situation. And even though there was a 99.99 percent chance that no one was planning on attacking us in this Cincinnati restaurant, Lafe was unable to let down his guard.
It makes a terrific illustration for continuing to be on guard spiritually. Most of us are too naïve about the enemy’s tactics. If an experienced Christian “soldier” suggests caution, we’re likely to say (or at least think), “Oh, good grief. You worry too much. I’m too smart to be trapped.”
But apostles Peter and Paul had a soldier’s perspective. They knew that the “enemy…prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). They didn’t want Satan to “outwit” them; they were “not unaware of his schemes” (2 Corinthians 2:11). We need to keep an eye on the door.