“Terrified” describes the panic I experienced that night in the predawn darkness. Fresh out of high school and in the U.S. Army, I was three hours into my very first tour of guard duty – guarding a fuel depot.
Without warning the silo-size steel storage tanks began “exploding,” or so it seemed to my untrained ears. Actually, the extreme heat of the day had expanded the tanks, and in the cool night air, they were contracting. The flexing steel vibrations made the tanks huge echo chambers, emitting deafening rumbles in the otherwise quiet night.
But, what if it had been sabotage, and what if it happened on my watch? Echos of those “explosions” haunt me even today. They are reminders that guard duty is serious business. They are warnings that failing to guard can result in loss, as well as serious consequences to a guard for dereliction of duty.
Have you considered that we are stewards and guards of Christ’s Kingdom and Church assets on earth until He returns? Jesus speaking of Himself said, “A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return. And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, ‘Occupy till I come’” (Luke 19:12-13).
So, here is the challenge we face: The worldly system is tenaciously guarding its turf and strongholds against the Church while the Church is willingly lowering its guard and embracing the worldly view. And here are the obvious questions: What has become of the biblical morality and standards that once characterized Christian believers and the Church? Where are the guards, the watchmen on the wall, sounding the alarm?
If you are not on guard, you should be. “Guard your heart for out of it flow the issues of life” (Pr. 4:23). Every human heart is a minefield of vile stuff that needs constant guarding, and more evil stuff is clamoring to get in. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jer. 17:9)
And while guarding your heart, you should also take responsibility for your immediate surroundings. Where you are this moment is your guard post in the Kingdom. So, look around. What do you see? People? Things? Activity? It is all Kingdom connected and belongs to God. Therefore, nothing is void of eternal purpose or beyond His sovereign reach. It’s all there for us to manage, multiply, and guard until Christ returns. That reality should impact the way we view ourselves, others, and circumstances, and it should impact the way we pray.
So, what are some rules to consider before suiting up in the armor of God, taking up the sword of the Spirit, and going on guard duty (Eph. 6:10-18)?
For decades the various branches of the armed forces of the United States shared a common set of eleven General Orders that govern the actions of guards on duty. Every recruit in boot camp memorized them word-perfect and in order. More recently, however, the eleven orders have been condensed, reorganized, and grouped under three basic instructions: Guard property, obey orders, and report violations.
As Kingdom stewards we are guards, real soldiers, in a real war, against a real enemy, and under the authority of a real Commander – Jesus Himself (2 Tim. 2:1-4). With a slight change of perspective, the three basic military instructions can be adapted to our call to guard duty: Guard the welfare of God’s Kingdom resources; obey the One who called us to serve; and prayerfully lift the lawlessness of our world to Him who has promised to hear, act, and one day return to make all things right. Occupy till He comes!