Last Friday, in “My Crazy Hero, Part 3”, I told the story of my dad’s service to the army of Belgium, and his fierce loyalty to his country and the allied cause during WWII.
My dad was so disappointed the day the Nazis overran Belgium. To him, this was the end of the world. Especially since army-eligible Belgian men were taken as prisoners of war. While in the prison camps, Belgians represented a source of cheap labour and were often deployed in factories and in agriculture. Being a bilingual country, the Nazi’s treated the French-speaking Belgians differently from the Dutch-speaking Belgians. Many of the Dutch-speaking prisoners of war were released or allowed to escape, while the French-speaking Belgians largely stayed in the prison camps until the end of the war. My dad was Dutch-speaking, and likely would have been treated more kindly than some; nonetheless, the very thought of assisting the Nazis in any way went completely against my father’s mentality, and in the end, he went into hiding.
Oh, he didn’t have any elaborate hiding place; rather, he hid out at home. As mentioned in last week’s devotional, he kept a rope in his room, and if anyone knocked on the door, he would use the rope to escape from his window, and would only return home when the Nazis had gone.
My uncle, my father’s younger brother, was not so “crazy”. In the end, he had to serve the Nazis in one of their camps, but my crazy dad managed to stay out of the prison camps completely.
Besides the rope, my dad had another crazy strategy for keeping the Nazis at bay. This one sounds pretty counterproductive to me; nonetheless, it worked for my crazy hero. My dad would go down to the public swimming pool when the Nazi soldiers were going for a swim, and he would strike up a fist fight with the soldiers. I don’t know exactly how this worked out to my dad’s advantage, but the Nazi soldiers began to actually admire him. He was, after all, one of the only ones to challenge them, and somehow, that won him an element of acclaim. As a result, he actually befriended a few of them. Well, I must admit that “befriended” probably isn’t the right word. The Nazi soldiers admired my dad and saw him as a friend; but my dad didn’t really return the sentiment. Nonetheless, he let them believe he was their friend because it worked to his advantage!
In the end, we can say that my dad stayed out of Nazi prison camps because of three things: 1) He was vigilant; 2) He had an escape plan; and 3) He wasn’t afraid to meet the Nazis head-on!
The Nazis aren’t the only potential threat to our freedom. In fact, they aren’t considered a threat at all in our day and age. Nonetheless, we have formidable threats to our freedom in Christ. Let’s remember that our freedom in Christ is a gift, one that we have as our own when we accept Jesus into our lives: It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.” (Galatians 5:1a NIV). Nonetheless, many of us throw this gift away, choosing to believe the lies of the enemy over the Truth of the freedom we have in Christ. We let down our guard, we become ensnared by addictions — pornography, drugs, alcohol, gluttony, gaming, spending, etc. — and we begin to believe the lie that there is nothing we can do about this. How much better it would be for us all if we would adopt the strategy of my crazy dad! Let’s take a look:
1) My dad was vigilant. We, too, need to be vigilant so as to not fall into enemy traps: “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 NIV). We need to continually be on the lookout for these traps. We need to avoid them at all costs.
2) My dad had an escape plan. We also need an escape plan. If we are inadvertently brought face to face with temptation or with the devil’s lies about who we are in Christ, just like my dad kept a rope with him in his house, we need follow Joseph’s example, and in the face of temptation, we need to run away: “But he left his cloak in her hand and ran out of the house.” (Gen. 39:11b NIV)!
3) My dad wasn’t afraid to meet the Nazis head-on when necessary. There are times when we do find ourselves ensnared in the lies of the devil. In those times, we need to remember my dad going down to the swimming pool and picking fist fights with the Nazi soldiers. We need to swing our “sword”, the Word of God: “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12 NIV). This is, after all, the only piece of defensive weaponry at our disposal, and in order to be ready to fight the devil, we need to, “Take … the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” (Ephesians 6:17b NIV)
When we watch vigilantly and distance ourselves from evil, and when we are prepared to fight the lies of the enemy with the truth of God’s Word, than just like my crazy hero was able to stay out of the Nazi prisoner camps, we, too, we find and keep our freedom in Christ! If we don’t follow these three precautionary measures, however, we may very well end up as my dad’s brother, serving the enemy from his wicked camps. Think about it!
In His love,
Director, Answer2prayer Ministries
(To access the entire “My Crazy Hero” devotional series, please click here.)