“We won’t be banging on drums to let them know we’re coming”
—Ygritte, Game of Thrones
I always found ancient warfare fascinating. Even the not-so-ancient warfare is interesting to its very core. Battles were fought on an agreed-upon field and victory typically lied with the numbers. Battalions marched toward one another, carrying flags or banners and banging on drums. Soldiers knew their enemy’s next move before it even occurred. Those on the front lines could almost guarantee their demise. War was a numbers game, and nine out of ten times, more was always more.
Occasionally, history teaches us about brilliant military tactics that involve a few brave soldiers overcoming astronomical odds, through the use of alternative guerilla warfare. There were the 300 Spartans who defeated thousands of Persians at the Battle of Thermopylae before eventually dying in the pass. There was the attack on Vienna by 100,000 Ottomans against 20,000 Viennese. By using bowls of water with peas floating on top, the Viennese could detect when and where the Ottomans were attacking along their walls. And then there was Gideon, who under God’s instruction, cut down his army from 32,000 men to 300 in order to defeat the Midianites (Judges 7:1–8). Gideon’s situation was definitely a case of less is more.
Why did God do this? The passage makes it clear that God wanted to prove to the Israelites that it was by God’s own prowess that they overcame the Midianites and not by their own military might. This, of course, is surface-level theology. We’ve all heard the famous memory verse from the prophet Zechariah: “Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit” (Zechariah 4:6). We can look at this from a practical sense as well. Like the scene from Game of Thrones when Ramsay Bolton convinces his father to allow him to ride out with twenty of his best men to sabotage his enemy in a nocturnal raid, destroying siege engines, torching supplies, and killing horses. This, in turn, defeats the enemy before it even has a chance to attack. Robin Hood and his band of merry yeomen attacked the wealthy on their way through Sherwood Forest, robbed them blind, and then delivered their riches to the poor, thereby cutting off the financial lifeline of their enemy—The Sheriff of Nottingham. In “real” history, during the Revolutionary War, a ragtag band of militia soldiers from South Carolina relied heavily on similar terrorist attacks to drive Cornwallis from the Carolinas and eventually defeating him at Yorktown, Virgina. You may recognize that story from the movie The Patriot. Either practically or theologically, the concept of less is more often rings true.
Today, we are at war with an invisible enemy. We can’t sneak into its camp, cause confusion, madness, or torch its siege engines. We can’t steal from its financial lifelines and give that money to those who are suffering from this pandemic. We can’t attack its soldiers while they travel from Charleston to Georgetown. What we can do is recognize the significance found in the lessons of Gideon, Ramsay Bolton, Robin Hood, and the South Carolina militia. Less is more! With less interaction with our friends at the local pub, we can play board games with our families. Since evenings out at loud restaurants are no longer possible, we can now share a meal around the dining room table sharing stories and bonding with those we love. Instead of watching the Cubs lose to the Cardinals, we can actually go out and toss the ball around or play cornhole. In lieu of heading to the office, the stadium, or the bar, we can go for a run, lift weights, pray and worship our Creator, and make love to our spouses. Through these types of circumstances, we recognize those things in our lives that truly matter. Money, success, and possessions no longer become our driving force. God, family, love, and health suddenly take the forefront. When circumstances take away the 31,700 things that don’t matter, we are left with the 300 things that do. Through this pandemic, I’m once again recognizing that LESS IS MORE!