The beautiful melodic voices of Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes singing “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life” from the Dirty Dancing soundtrack reverberated through the oak leaves in my backyard as I tossed a broomstick into the air, caught it, and proceeded in having the time of my own life while I danced in the backyard—broomstick in hand. I was 13 years old and extremely weird…and I just didn’t care who knew it. Caught up in the thrill of the dance, I was oblivious to my brother standing on the patio watching in scrutiny and gasping in bewilderment.
For years and years, my brother perpetually told the story of his anomalous brother stick-dancing in the backyard to a song from Dirty Dancing. Eighteen years later, my brother told the story to his girlfriend—and eventual wife. She begged and pleaded to see a live performance of my stick-dancing routine. I politely declined.
Two years ago—at my brother’s wedding—I stood on the dance floor in front of the DJ, and began my best man’s speech. Unbeknownst to the newlyweds, I had Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes’ classic song cued up and a flashy blue broomstick hidden under the DJ table. It was finally time for my new sister to see Shawn’s classic stick-dancing routine. My toast: “Words alone cannot express how thrilled we are that you have become part of our family. So instead, I’d like to welcome you with an interpretive stick dance.
PURE BEAUTY ENSUED!
Upon first meeting me, I come across as a shy, behind-the-scenes, kind of guy. But that is in NO way who I truly am. I love to be the center of attention…the one up on stage…the teacher, preacher, actor, performer. I love to act, and action is where I shine. When I was in college, I told my roommate I wanted to perform on Broadway. He just laughed, and so did I. It was ridiculous…but there was truth in my desire. I wanted to act…I wanted to dance…I wanted to perform.
Behind every performer, is a talented team of producers, directors, artists, engineers, and technicians. If these individuals were absent, the performance would fall flat and fail epically despite the talent of the performer. One of my closest friends is a technical director for live entertainment at the “Happiest Place on Earth.” Without his brilliant contributions, Aladdin would fall from his flying carpet, TinkerBell would perform a nose-dive into the moat around Cinderella’s Castle, and the canons used by the Pirates of the Caribbean would misfire leaving the audience disappointed and demanding a full refund. Performers are important, but without those who exist behind the scenes, the performance would fail. Action is important, but without preparing for that action, it will also fail…and fail epically.
A tactical and useful weapon used in the Vietnam War was the Claymore mine. The Claymore directional mine contained 700 steel balls embedded in an explosive charge. Once detonated, the mine would fire the balls out in a 60-degree spray. This 60-degree area was called the “kill zone.” The soldier would activate the explosive by squeezing a small electrical charge called a “clacker” several times when the enemy was located within the kill zone. Infantry platoons would carry these mines with them and position them on the perimeter. This was referred to as a “mechanical ambush.”
Frequently, daring Viet Cong soldiers would sneak into the perimeter and turn the directional Claymores around. Later, when the Viet Cong would attack, the U.S. soldiers would squeeze the clackers and fire the mines upon themselves. My father was injured by this same tactical maneuver. Knowing this occurred, daring U.S. soldiers would have to periodically crawl into the “kill zone” and verify that the mines were pointing in the right direction.
Quite often, what occurs behind the scenes is far more important and critical to a successful outcome than the obvious action that occurs in front of our faces.
When the Amalekites attacked the Israelites at Rephidim, Joshua chose some men and went out to engage them in battle. Moses, on the other hand, walked up to the top of a nearby hill and raised his arms up to God. As long as Moses’ arms were raised to the heavens, Joshua and the Israelite army were successful. Whenever Moses’ arms grew weary, and he lowered them, the Amalekites were successful. Israel’s victory on the battlefield was dependent upon Moses raising his arms in prayer to God (Exodus 17:8-13).
I’m not much of a prayer warrior. I’m more of a Joshua. I’m an action kind of guy. I like to dance…preferable with a broomstick in hand. Unfortunately, without prayer, action is useless…and vice versa…without action, prayer is useless. The two go hand-in-hand. Out on stage, an actor’s performance is reliant upon the talented men and women backstage. However, without the performer, there really isn’t a need for talented men and women backstage. In battle, the soldier has to squeeze the clacker to detonate the mine. However, if a courageous soldier doesn’t crawl into the kill zone to determine whether or not the enemy has turned the mines around, the clacking soldier may just clack himself.
All in all, the battles we fight on the battlefield are only the tip of the iceberg. The larger battle lies below the surface. We are fighting against so much more than the Amalekites. In order to be successful in battle, we need those prayer warriors—those behind-the-scenes individuals standing on a nearby hill, raising their arms to God. We need to recognize that there are spiritual battles occurring simultaneously with our physical battles…and that we fight those battles through prayer.
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.”
—Ephesians 6:12, 18