There is a scene in the movie, The Patriot, which recently drew my attention. The British and the American colonists are in the middle of an intense battle, and the great military strategist, General Cornwallis, is shown surveying the battle scene through a telescope from a faraway hillside.
I have watched that scene many times, but, for the first time, I thought about the significance of Cornwallis’ position. Had he been down o the battlefield, he would not have been able to survey the entire scene. His position allowed him to see the movements of not only his own troops, but also those of his enemy.
Most of us in urban ministry spend the majority of our time on the battlefield, tackling the obstacles that are right in front of us. On an average day, that might include tutoring a child who is three grade levels behind and may never reach graduation, showing a newly resettled refugee family how to ride the RTA, pulling weeds in an urban garden which supplies local food pantries, stuffing 300 backpacks for neighborhood children, grilling hotdogs for a neighborhood picnic to assist a new church plant, and the list goes on. God is on the move, and He is in a battle to take back the city!
But, we don’t have General Cornwallis’ vantage point. We are down on the battlefield with our noses to the grindstone, missing God’s victories. We need to take time to visit the high ground and survey the battlefield. We need to sit around the campfire and hear the tales of victory so that we are re-energized for battle and reminded of our common mission. That only happens through time alone with our Father and time in community with our fellow soldiers in the urban mission field.
Now, I know what you are thinking…”I don’t have time for that! I am busy fighting the battle!” Even soldiers in the midst of a battle have to take time to sleep, eat, and care for their injuries. Overtired, malnourished, wounded soldiers cannot win a battle. Yet, many of us walk around in an overtired, spiritually malnourished, wounded state.
Take time away to rest and recharge. Take time to sit in the presence of your heavenly Father and see the battlefield from His vantage point. Allow Him to refresh your spirit and renew your call.
Take time to meet with those who are in the battle with you. Take a day away from the battle and just spend time together sharing tales of victory and building each other up.
God has the battle well in hand, but He needs healthy soldiers to fight His battle for the city.
Director of Volunteers