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Monday, September 11, 2006

Unlikely Inspiration - Paintball Parables

Considering the number of people who have lived from the outset of creation, I think it is a safe statement to say that God has spoken to only a select few, in the strictest sense of the word, that is. As far as biblical accounts, there are only a handful of people mentioned who have been awarded this honor, when compared to their contemporaries. For the rest of us, especially in this current, and likely last, dispensation, our revelation comes not from billows of smoke or columns of fire, but by the indwelling Holy Spirit. As such, the world is full of teachable moments through which the Spirit can teach us something divine from the otherwise natural realm. This thought will be the basis for a series of posts that I will title, “Unlikely inspiration.”

One of these moments that I would like to share is a parallel to playing paintball. Yes, God can find a spiritual use even for paintball, such a seemingly violent sport. Paintball could be classified as a battle game, one that simulates human-to-human combat using close-ranged firearms. For this parallel, let the opposing team be equated to the dark forces that seek to destroy my team, the Christians. Please do not read too much into the premise. Every time I go out onto the field I have some idea of what I want to do, some plan by which to decimate the enemy. Each person is assigned a role, a specific task that on its own is not of much consequence, but when a part of a larger plan, means certain victory. Now, if every plan was executed flawlessly as envisioned, then no casualties would be taken and victory secured each time. The problem is that the plan is rarely executed exactly as envisioned. Invariably, someone does not apply pressure where it is needed, or applies too much, and the enemy seizes the opportunity of weakness for its own exploitation. Oh, how many times have I been on the receiving end of that one! Or even worse, that the plan was executed to a tee, but the plan itself was flawed. Imagine being the team commander and your team loses because you did not lead correctly. All too often I have been eliminated because of a rookie mistake; some simple thing like not ensuring adequate cover, or not noticing an opponent. I walk off the field fuming. I am angry, not at the person for eliminating me, but for allowing myself to be in that situation. I don’t mind being eliminated when it is a good move by the opposing team, but because of something I did? That’s just too much. The shame, the self loathing that follows… Of course, if I left it there then I would be deserving the next time when the same mistake is made. But, what if I learn from my mistake? What if I can see what the enemy is doing, the entry point at which my defense was broken, my pivotal mistake that was my undoing in the first place? If I learn my weakness from my mistake, then my mistake, while is in itself deplorable, it is not without purpose. I can rest assured that God causes all things to work together for the good of those whom he loves and who have been called according to his purpose. As Christians we face a battle of a different sort, and much more violent. Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against spiritual powers. We must be knowledgeable of the enemy and of our own weaknesses, lest in our pride we seek to run before we can even walk.

Can a failure be considered a success if it serves to highlight the point of failure so as to avoid it in the future? Should I go so far to say that such a mistake is good? It seems that is what Paul was saying. Though it was intended for evil, and was indeed evil itself, it can be turned to good, that is, for sanctification. Do I stretch too far or is my parallel just?

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