But one time was different. It started as usual, as I pushed on the door they followed the pattern and pushed with all their might back against me. I pushed, they pushed back and so on. However, I tried a different strategy this time…I waited, quietly. Then I heard something I had not heard before. Fighting.
It started as bickering, and being on the other side of the door on my belly, I don’t know how it started. All I know is I began hearing things like:
“Brady, stop pushing me, get off.”
“No Andy you pushed me, and you pinched me too, leave me alone.”
“Brady you always try to get in front, stay behind me, I’m older.”
“No, its my turn Andy, I'm the stronger one.”
I didn’t make a sound. I waited. I kept silent. I was patient. They yelled. I was patient. They quarreled. I was quiet. They fought. I was patient...and quiet. As I kept still, instead of pushing against that door, they pushed
against each other. Instead of using their combined strength to keep me out,
they drew on the strength they each had and used it against each other. On the other side of that door was yelling, and pushing, and whining, and anger, and hurt feelings.
I no longer waited.
I ever so gently pushed on the door with my finger. It slowly opened an
inch. Next, I pushed with every finger except my thumb. It opened some more.
I kept waiting for Andy to notice, or Brady to get a glimpse, but neither
did. They kept fighting, even more intensely now. Funny thing, they weren’t even looking in my direction anymore. They seemed to forget all about me, and the door, and the fact that a few minutes ago they were working together to keep me out, but now they were furious with each other and just plain distracted. So, I kept pushing.
By this time the door was nearly all the way open, so I gave it a final push and it swung back against the wall. There was nothing but some dirty underoos on the floor between the boys and me. They kept fighting. So, I rose up and got on my knees. Still, they didn’t catch a glimpse. By this time they’re
facing the opposite direction. I could see the sweat on the back of their heads.
So, all that was left for me to do was stand-up. I did. Still, nothing. So, I did what any dad would do in this situation. I stood as tall as I could, raised my arms high in the air, and yelled, “Ahhh, got you!”
To say they screamed at the top of their little lungs is indeed an
understatement. They literally jumped into the air, froze for a second, then ran behind a chair and huddled together. While it was nice to see them reunited, it taught me a valuable lesson. Bottom-line, when we bicker, argue and fight, our enemy creeps in and we don’t even see it coming.
The Bible says, “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil
prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter
Let’s say we have a group of people working together, even
praying hard for something. They pray that their enemy, the devil, has no
authority to enter, no power to get involved, no ability to poke around in the
plans of this people. They work together, combine strength, prayer, resources, and energy to fight him off. But someone says something
hurtful to another.
Maybe someone says something mean, or abusive. Someone steals
from the other. Or more likely, the gossip starts. No one asks for forgiveness
and certainly no one would grant it. And while the bickering occurs, the
yelling ensues, and the distractions begin, that enemy they fought so hard
against pokes his finger on the door. No one notices, no one stops him, so he
uses more of those long, creepy fingers. He must chuckle to himself as he peeks inside to see people giving him an open door...one guarded so weakly he can easily push it open. This enemy the Bible says prowls like a lion, has crept his way inches into the camp. So now he can have fun. As the fighting continues he can stand on two legs, and roar so loudly they quake in their shoes. And as they freeze, he may bite if he wants, or simply stand inside the camp and gleefully watch the panic and frenzy unfold.
We’re human, it’s natural for us to be weak and just plain mess-up. We get distracted, selfish, prideful, and egocentric, and our unity crumbles. That’s when focus turns from God to self. We must be wary of giving the enemy any foothold into our lives, and a breakdown of unity is the quickest way to invite the devil in.
Here's something worth remembering if you've never noticed it before: Right before Jesus was arrested he prayed for 3 things: First for Himself, then for His disciples...and then for us (you and me). He didn't pray that we would be rich, powerful, obedient, or even faithful to Him. Of all things what did he pray for us? Unity. That we would be "one." Pretty remarkable this was His prayer (John 17).
Together we can stand firm against the door and keep our enemy at bay. Let’s respond with grace, not react in a rage, the next time we are poked, pulled, punched or spit-on while guarding the door. We need all our energy to fight what’s on the other side.