Friday Woody Shoemaker stepped into my office. It’s always a good part of my day when Woody stops in. We have both been pastors for years and together we solve the world’s problems and swap old pastor stories. When he stepped in I was thinking about what I was going to say later that evening to the men in Grosse Pointe. My job was to convince men who were already swamped with responsibilities that they should help form a men’s ministry in the church.
“Woody,” I said, “What would you say to a group of men to convince them that they should be willing to help other men walk with the Lord.”
Woody served as a Navy Seal during the Vietnam Conflict. I knew he was referring to his service as a Seal when he said, “The enemy tries to be as almighty as he can be. They want to know everything about you. They want to know where you are, who you are, were you are moving, and what you are doing. Your life depends on going unnoticed.”
He moved to the edge of his chair using his hands as he spoke growing more animated as I asked follow-up questions.
“Ken, they could smell you. We were sure not to have body odor. We were clean but we didn’t use deodorant soap or deodorant. We ate garlic so we would not smell different then the Vietcong. When we were walking through the jungle you wanted to be silent. We would have one of our platoon stay back and just stand still in the darkness and listen for the enemy.
When we went out in we wanted every advantage we could get. We each had our job and we each did it because our lives and the lives of our buddies depended on it. Every member of the team was important.”
Then, without really thinking about it or measuring his words he shifted forward in his chair and raised his voice and said, “We wouldn’t think of going out there alone. It would be suicide. We didn’t even do R and R alone. We didn’t get our hair cut alone. If I was in the chair getting a shave a buddy would be sitting across the room with an M-16 across his knees just in case the barber slipped with the razor.”
I thanked Woody for helping me prepare for the men in Grosse Pointe. We drove to the meeting. The men gathered and while they were introducing themselves I realized these were busy men with a lot of “plates to spin,” a lot of people to please. They didn’t have time for more meetings for meetings sake. They didn’t need more programs and committees, but they did need each other. They have a common enemy and his plans include murder, theft, and destruction.
I reminded the men that no home is safe without a strong man, no church is vital without strong men, and no man is strong without other men. In a word I told them what Woody said, “Don’t even think of going out there alone.”
Solomon’s father, David was a man of war who was surrounded by men who were legendary in their daring and loyalty. He must have taught his son the importance of not trying to face an enemy alone. When he died he left a gift of wisdom in his writings. Among them was this from the Book of Ecclesiasties:
Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. or if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up. Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone? And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.
Woody said they all knew that if any of them were killed by the Vietcong they would be subject to unspeakable atrocities. “Of course” he said, “We would never leave anyone behind, even if they were killed, we would get them out.”
When a demonic enemy plots to destroy and defile all that is dear to them brothers don’t go it alone, they band together. When our friends are fighting for life and defending all that is sacred to them, brothers don’t stand back and watch they step in and help.
Riverfront Character Inn
September 19, 2005