GERALD COWAN’S PERSONAL PERIODICALS
Number 617 • February 24, 2021
FRONT LINES AND BACKUPS, AND UNDOERS
You may think that last word undoers is out of place in the subject line of this essay but I will show you, before we conclude it that, while undoers may be insidious destroyers and enemies of progress and success, sometimes the undoers are the only real defense against evildoers. Please stay with us until we get to that part of the study. We intend the whole essay to be positive and helpful. We will emphasize first the front lines and backups, the true progressives in the direction of improvement and achievement.
FRONT-LINERS AND FIRST RESPONDERS
There is glory and glamor enough to be found on both sides in any conflict. The bravery and pressing insurgence of the offense can inspire awe and terror. The resolute unyielding tenacity and resistance of the defenders can also be awe-inspiring. Being a spectator to scripted battles in which there will be a pre-determined winner (professional wrestling and super-hero movies and television programs come under question here) may be exciting to watch, but participation in a real contest with real contestants is more intensive because of the uncertainty of the outcome. A real battle of real enemies in a real war will probably be terrifying with real losses and gains accruing to both sides. There may be heroic performances, with genuine heroes on both sides. It requires considerable bravery and fortitude to be a front-liner on either side. Just so you don’t miss the intended point, the conflict may be social, cultural, intellectual, or spiritual rather than physical. There must be persons able and willing to be on the front lines in those conflicts too. Courage, volition and mental acuity will be required for a meeting of the minds – spiritual strength and skill are needed in a spiritual engagement or conflict.
There’s another kind of front-liner that we should consider – the “first responders” to an unscheduled or unforeseen event. The police who are called to meet and dispel a mob intent on rioting. The medics called to the scene of an accident. The militia hastily gathered to confront a sudden invasion, the care-givers who rush to the scene of a catastrophe not knowing what will be required of them – there’s glory and glamor, and heroics enough to go around in all such events. Thanks to our God for the first-responders and the front-liners!
BACKUPS AND RESERVES
The performance of the front liners and first responders is not always determinative of the outcome. The battle or the struggle will often ebb and flow to one side or the other and continue for a long time. Then the importance of reserves, backups, and replacements becomes paramount. The staying power, the courage that overrides the desire to yield or retreat or run away and choose to fight on some other day — the ability and willingness to endure and persevere , the fortitude and integrity to stay in the conflict and see it through to the end, win or lose is what raises up any true hero. It’s the engagement and involvement of all participants, the front lines and the backups, the small bits and the great bits done by any and all participants that determines success or failure.
One category of backups that doesn’t get deserved attention and thanks contains the encouragers and supporters and prayer warriors, the little people who “praise the Lord and pass the ammunition and supplies,” those who say and mean, “We’ve got your back – we’re the back-liners, the backups, the keepers of your back, and we’re with you all the way.” These backups may determine success or failure of the front-liners and first responders. Wars are not won on the front lines or by the generals but by the troops who obey their orders and carry out their plans, and by those who form the total support network. The bosses and directors may get the applause and the big rewards but it’s the workers, the active participants who carry out the director’s plans who actually get the job done.
Here are some practical ways by which we recognize the value of supporters – not the string-pullers when we feel like puppets with little or no will and decision-making in our own life and existence, but rather those who help us when we need help, who encourage us to keep going, not give up when things are difficult and dismal, those who congratulate us when we have finished a task and made progress on our appointed journey. These are the folks who oil the wheels of progress for others – even sometimes when it requires depriving themselves of some glory or tangible reward. Surely you can remember a time or times when you were helped to continue when you could not keep going on your own, and how grateful you were that someone cared enough to prevent you from failing.
Question: have there been times when you stopped to help others who were faltering and facing failure? Others may be helping you in ways you do not even know about. Your parents, your spouse, your siblings, your friends, members of the church – sometimes unidentified and acting in secret – are praying for you. They want you to change and correct things that are wrong in your life. They want you to succeed in every right and good thing. They stand as intercessors between you and God, as defenders between you and the forces of evil and sin – when you fail and lose they feel the pain and loss, but when you win they rejoice not only for you but with you, the way Christians are taught to do (Romans 12:10-15). Doesn’t it give you comfort and encouragement to know others are praying to God for you and about you? Another question: for whom and for how many and for what are you praying? Your earnest prayers may not actually keep others on the right path but they will most assuredly keep you on the right path. It is unlikely that you will reject, neglect, abuse or refuse to help those you are praying for. Even those with no money, no goods, and no strength can pray – and if there is any love in their hearts for others they will do so. All of us should be prayer warriors, as we’ve already mentioned. The ones you pray for may not hear your prayers, but God does.
UNDOERS AND REDOERS
Some perverse persons, motivated by envy, jealousy, and greed cannot rejoice when others are blessed, especially when others achieve something they themselves have not been able to do. They rejoice when their competitors fail. They try to cause stumbling, they create problems and obstacles for others, they cheat and violate rules and standards in order to get ahead of honest law-abiders. There are some who take pride and pleasure not only in preventing the success of others but destroying what others have done, tearing down what others have built up — all others must lose so that these undeserving miserable ones can win. It is so common and so flagrant that in any competition – sports is an outstanding example now – cheating is not only expected but is actually applauded. So a supposedly superior basketball player openly fakes a foul that persuades referees and umpires and gains an unfair advantage over the competing player or team but only proves that he is a better actor than he is player in a supposed contest between players, not pretenders. So also, boys pretending to be girls and men pretending to be women compete against real girls and women. What do they prove? That they are superior to their peers? No.
They only prove they are unable to compete fairly but want to pretend to win in a category to which they do not belong. Adults should not rejoice in beating children. Men should not rejoice in beating women. Stay in your proper category. As Adrian Rogers used to say: a real woman is a 100 percent better woman than any man can be, and a real man is a 100 percent better man than any woman can be. Pretenders should also stay in their own true category – the category of pretenders. Politics also provides an easily understood example. One president manages to do some things that are good for his country but is hated by politicians on the other side. So the next president spends much time and energy undoing and destroying what the other accomplished, trying to undo the works of his predecessor. Because he hates his country? No, not necessarily. Because his continuing personal hatred of his political foe drives him to try to “cancel” his rival by undoing even his good and beneficial works. Perhaps the public should “cancel” such evildoers.
But there is actually a positive need for certain undoers or redoers. A person himself must repent of his own wrongdoings and sins – one cannot be properly forgiven without such repentance (Matthew 18:15-17, 5:23, 6:14-15 and Luke 17:1-4). It is true individually and collectively. One must at least try to undo the damage and consequences of errors (restitution or rebuilding may be required) before redoing or doing correctly what was done improperly or perhaps not done at all before. Here’s a little practical advice: If at first you don’t succeed, try again – not necessarily by doing the same thing again in the same way (that’s futility and foolishness). If at first you don’t succeed, you may need to try a different way to get the job done. It is often a long and difficult task to rebuild what you or someone else, or perhaps even a preacher or a church or “denomination” has taught and done incorrectly. Thank God for the undoers and redoers in such cases. Thank God also for those who care enough to point out where we need to change, correct, undo and redo something in our lives so we can be strengthened and reformed, perhaps even “restored” to fellowship, above all with God (James 5:16, 19 and 1 Peter 4:8).
Thank God for the front-liners and first responders (and thank them too). Thank God for the backups and supporters (and thank them too). Thank God for the undoers and redoers, the correctors and re-directors who keep us in the path that leads to God (and thank them too). One last bit: be a front-liner, first-responder, backup, supporter, undoer, redoer – be thank-worthy. Others will thank you. God will bless you. <><>