I literally live in a war zone.
Actually, my house sits on a Civil War battleground. I can see a large 19th century house called “Oaklawn” outside my back window. It is where Confederate General John Hood camped out with his soldiers on November 29, 1864. The war had raged for years, and both the Union and the Confederates were still fighting, determined to defeat the other. Weary and worn, soldiers on both sides were hoping for an end to the carnage and history tells us that on this night the time for that was drawing near.
The story goes that General John Hood told his troops to bed down for the night (literally in my back yard) in Spring Hill, Tennessee. The next day they would head toward Nashville where they would fight for control there. However, during the night while the troops slept, the Union army flanked them and one of the fiercest battles of the war occurred in Franklin, Tennessee over the next few days. Some believe that the commanding officer, General Hood, was medicating himself with laudanum and alcohol because of the pain from injuries he had a suffered earlier, and that he was drunk much of the time. Whether this is true or not is up for debate. What is true is that Hood and his men were sleeping while the enemy moved within a few yards of them. Supply wagons had even left their pots and pans behind so that they wouldn’t clank and alert the Confederates. A soldier or two heard the approaching troops, and reported it to the general who didn’t react. He did send a dispatch to some of the troops not too far away, but it was 2 a.m. and he needed his sleep.
The enemy today is out there, waiting until we’re unaware. He might not attack us head on, but like the Union soldiers, he may find a way to catch us sleeping and zero in on just the right spot to strike. There’s a lesser known parable of Jesus, found in Matthew 13: 24-28, that goes…
“The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared.
“The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’
[The owner replied] ‘An enemy did this…’
The enemy is ready to exploit our vulnerabilities. We can’t be asleep at the wheel.
“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8)