You never know if the dust on the horizon will turn out to be a band of raiders coming to plunder your community and pack you and your children up and take you home. Their home.
You never know if you will find yourself claimed by a victor and forced to be his #3 wife or concubine. Or slave.
You never know if in your husband’s absence an enemy will break in and rape your beautiful daughters while you wait your turn.
You never know if your defenders will be defeated and everyone in your town will be killed.
For most of the world…for most of history…women have lived lives of great vulnerability.
We live in such a bubble of security. Can we even imagine the daily reality of much of the Old Testament?
And what of Joshua, Gideon, David? Can we fathom what it was like as men to fight face to face, hand to hand? To kill or be killed by a sword or a club?
To fight amidst the stench of bodily fluids or be covered in blood or gore?
What did men think of on the eve of that kind of battle? Or when they were gravely injured and anesthetics and surgery were scarce?
Few of us, thank God, have to live with the daily prospect of violence. We don’t have to spend much time or energy thinking how to avoid it. Or appease it. Or protect ourselves once it draws near.
I’ve been thinking of those who do lately as I’ve read the Lion of War series by Cliff Graham. Not typical reading for women my age. And I probably would not have read it except Cliff is family—my cousin’s son. A military chaplain who knows what it’s like to fight battles. The “thrill of victory and the agony of defeat” is not merely a sports cliché for Cliff. A veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom, he has known the power of a deadly enemy. And the real threat of death. So he makes the stories of David and his mighty men come shockingly alive.
I don’t understand the warrior mentality. My friend Dave tells me how the manager of his baseball team raises such a ruckus on the field that he gets thrown out of the game. The anger and theatrics really turn me off. When Dave explains that he does it intentionally to shake his team up so they’ll play better I simply shake my head. But after reading Cliff’s books I get it a little more. I get David a little more. And Joab. And Eleazer. And Benaiah. And Uriah the Hittite. (Did you realize he was one of David’s elite thirty?) These men and their power and exploits come alive. I have a whole new respect for them. And empathy for their wives. I get a peek out of my bubble.
I also see in these extreme circumstances what it means to trust God and lean into his strength, his "covering." In circumstances more dangerous than, Lord willing, I'll ever face I see a new depth to worship. And a deeper glory of deliverance.
Right after I read Cliff’s book I read about the attacks on the Westgate mall in Kenya. The world of violence there seems eerily familiar. The rape and mutilation and sacking and pillaging that seems centuries away has become the reality of men, women and children shopping for new jeans in a mall. Evil men fight in the name of Allah, rather than Dagon. Completely possessed by greed and lust and rage. And willing to destroy civilization to gain control.
As we look across North Africa and into Syria, beyond to Iraq and Afghanistan we see evil gathering strength. The civilization we take for granted slipping away. Our brothers and sisters in Christ never know if the dust on the horizon will turn out to be a band of raiders coming to plunder their community and pack them and their children up to take them home. Their home…