Friday, August 13, 2010

"The Trench Warrior"

Part 1

I don't follow football much anymore, but when I did, the offensive linemen were always my favorite players.

The case can be made that these "men of the trenches" are the most important players on any football team. Points must be scored in order to win games, and the offense is the part of the team that normally accomplishes this task. Except in the rarest cases, quarterbacks, running backs, and wide receivers are the players who literally cross the goal line, and their skills are vital and to be much admired and appreciated. However, without offensive linemen, the so-called "stars" of any football team would soon be lying in the hospital with concussions, broken bones, and torn ligaments. The trench warriors, the offensive linemen, ensure that this does not happen. Even more, they make possible the touchdowns scored by the fleet-footed luminary who then usually proceeds to act in a manner so as to draw all attention to himself and his supposed accomplishment.

A brief example before getting to my primary point. In a Super Bowl many years ago, an unheralded and almost unknown running back set a record for the most yards gained (which still stands). He rushed for more than 200 yards, scored several touchdowns, and amazed everybody by his performance. Sadly, however, just as he had never performed well before the game, he never performed well after it either. Analysis of the game films revealed the reason for his one shot success. As one commentator said, "With all due respect to grandmothers, my grandmother could have run through the holes made by the offensive line in that game!" Watching the films confirms the fact that the one shot wonder, while certainly playing well himself, owed much of his success to the trench warriors, the offensive lineman.

In life, including and perhaps especially the body of Christ, this is always the case. Those who do the hardest and most important work are never the ones noticed or affirmed. The primary work of the church is not done by those who stand in pulpits, or who have their names on books, or sing with beautiful voices. Such ones have their place, but the work of the church is mostly done along the hidden pathways of life by the trench warriors whose names we've never heard and will not hear until we get to Heaven. Their labors are the product of the Lord who lived 90% of His life so quietly and unobtrusively that when His ministry began, His own brethren did not know who He was (John 7:5). Indeed, the Lord Jesus was the ultimate trench warrior. He lived and died not only in lack of appreciation, but in shame, despite, and rejection.

I've met a number of well known believers in my lifetime, and been blessed by some. Honestly, however, such ones don't interest me. I rather love meeting those saints who, as it were, block for the quarterbacks and running backs. The mother who daily rears her children for the glory of God. The officeworker who realizes that his workplace provides opportunity to reveal the Lord Jesus by attitude, work habit, and when appropriate, a word spoken in His name. The pastor known only by his congregation, and whose labors for their benefit even they just barely see. The stilled and broken one whose body languishes on a sickbed, but whose spirit soars on the wings of prayer uttered for family members, fellow believers, and lost ones who need to know the Savior. And dozens, hundreds, thousands, and millions of others who faithfully serve the Lord with few knowing they even exist. These are the ones who bless me, although I don't know their names or anything about them other than the fact that their lack of notoriety directs all glory to the One who alone is worthy of it. "Not unto us, o Lord, not unto us, but unto Thy name give glory!" (Psalm 115:1).

I am convinced that the trench warriors are the most important members of any endeavor. I'm even more convinced that this is God's opinion in the matter. Most of His work in the world is done without anyone ever knowing it is Him doing it. Even His most faithful followers must look hard to see the quiet ways He expresses His faithful devotion to humanity's benefit. He is unknown by most, and often underappreciated by those who do know Him. Yes, God Himself is a trench warrior, and whenever we cross the goal line of life in any manner, He alone is worthy of attention, praise, and honor.

"He hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him."
(Isaiah 53:2)

No comments: