Some want to live within the sound of church or chapel bell; I want to run a rescue shop within a yard of hell. – CT Studd
When we were kids our respective churches taught us this song:
I may never march in the infantry
Ride in the cavalry
Shoot the artillery
I may never fly o’er the enemy
But I’m in the Lord’s army!
I’m in the Lord’s army!
I’m in the Lord’s army!
Maybe you have laughed and sang along with this song too, marching and pretending to ride a horse or shoot a gun or fly. The spiritual battle seemed light hearted and safe. The Lord’s army was cool. The song may have subconsciously taught me that nothing hard was going to come and He was never going to need me to march, ride, shoot or fly for His army. I don’t think I ever thought I would have to get close to the enemy. As a follower of Christ, I had enlisted and did not know the half of what faith in Jesus was going to do to my world.
Meeting Jesus when you are five years old gives you awesome child-like faith, which He wants us to have, but the hard part is not understanding ‘the hard part.’ Singing a song that is fun with motions and silliness is a whole different world than the reality of a battle.
Joel 2:11- “The Lord thunders at the head of his army; his forces are beyond number, and mighty is the army that obeys his command.”
2 Timothy 2:3-4 – “Join with me in suffering, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer.”
What does it mean to be a good soldier? We never thought about it. We lived without acknowledging the battle. We were not targets because we weren’t a threat.
A soldier is aware of the enemy and anticipates the enemy. A soldier’s mission is to protect, defend and serve. A soldier is committed; trained on the tactics of charge and retreat. A soldier believes he can and will defeat the enemy. A soldier trusts the commanding officer, follows the commanding officer, and respects the commanding officer.
1 Corinthians 16:13-14 – “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. Do everything in love.”
Matthew 10:16 – “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.”
1 Timothy 6:12 – “Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.”
A soldier “gets in the trenches” because they will sneak close to the enemy camp to protect, defend and rescue their fellow comrades or the civilians caught in the cross fire.
When we meet Jesus, we become a soldier. We enlist. We commit to always be in His army. Our comrades are our brothers and sisters in Christ and the civilians are those who have not met Jesus yet. Some of us grow into knowing we are in a spiritual battle, with the privilege and duty of a soldier, while others of us understand from the beginning. God had to grow me into the seriousness of “running a rescue shop,” of being invested in an army, and the intensity required to train and suffer as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.
We first become a threat when we understand. We become a target when we engage in sharing Christ and loving people. Our name is added to the enemy hit list when our marching looks like we are in formation behind Jesus.
Our prayers were zealous, without understanding of what it would mean for our lives. We prayed to have the passion and obedience to “run a rescue shop within a yard of hell.” Get ready, if you are thinking of opening one. Running a ‘rescue shop’ has kicked our tails.
Time is not ours anymore. A rescue shop doesn’t have hours, it never closes. Phones are scripture and prayer sending devices. Resources are for shared consumption. Prayer is vital and our strongest weapon. Transport is for seeking out the lost and delivering help. Food is meant to feed. Money is for the mission. A life of service and faith in what you cannot see.
The real of a battle happens when you find yourself searching for someone in the middle of the night, dragging someone out of a bar, bailing another out of jail, crying with the broken-hearted, sharing scripture and depending on Jesus. The ‘rescue shop’ is open and you stay awake even though you are exhausted, dig into the Word with desperation and sit in the bathroom floor wondering how else can we love? The shop is open when you find yourself standing in the rain, with lightning and thunder all around you, listening to someone scream.
The ‘rescue shop’ is a complete operation of love and grace, run for Jesus, by His strength and for His glory. The ears hear cursing and the eyes see tears. Drunks sober on your couch and confession is safe. God lets your heart ache, feeling the pain of sin. Prayers fight for marriages, emotional distress and truth. The place is not despair, but hope, a “take the way out” safe haven. A ‘rescue shop’ serves coffee, a warm shower and acceptance.
Sometimes, people don’t want to be rescued. They reject Jesus right in your face. You take them to His cross and You explain love, but love is too scary or the sin too addictive and deceiving. The rescue can only happen if a person receives the offer. No one can be forced to take grace. God may even have the ‘rescue shop’ heap the grace, but the person misses that the kindness of the Lord is to bring them to repentance. The ‘rescue shop’ workers have to keep loving anyway, working undercover for Jesus. Our love is an overflow of the love Jesus has heaped on us. All we can do is love, no matter how angry, offended or used we feel. No matter how much sleep we miss or tears we cry, love bears more and more. Love waits.
Love is Jesus and we remember it cost Him everything. We have committed to be a good soldier and fight. May it be said of us, followers of Jesus, “they fought the good fight, finished the race and kept the faith.”
We cannot grow weary. We cannot give up. We cannot stop loving. For the Lord says… “I will open rivers, I will make the wilderness a pool of water, I will produce in the wilderness, I will set growth in the desert, that they may see and know, may consider and understand together, that the hand of the Lord has done this, the Holy One of Israel has created it.” – Isaiah 41:17-20
Our ‘rescue shop’ is open, full of mistakes and grace, and it feels pretty close to hell. Is yours open?