I’m sitting at home in an off brand La-Z-Boy, doing anything but lazying. My mind is a minefield of worry.
I am a campus missionary. My husband and I pastor the Chi Alpha Ministry at Oklahoma State University. I have also been working on my graduate degree in Biochemistry these past few years. I am no stranger to the common struggles of a college student. I am frequently juggling many responsibilities as a wife, a mother, a missionary, and a student. So you can imagine the things that go through my mind on any given day. Bills that will soon be due, my son’s learning of his multiplication tables, recent unrest at work, all my hopes and dreams for the future…and the thin balance they all hang upon. Even as we follow God’s will for our life, the struggle, as my students say, is real. Life, it seems, is always straddling the line between triumph and tragedy. As we live out each day, battles rage on daily on spiritual, emotional, and physical fronts.
Life, it seems, is always straddling the line between triumph and tragedy.
Can you relate?
Even though we know every Scriptural admonishment to not worry about our lives, humans--Christians and Non-Christians alike--are no strangers to worry. It is the favorite and unrewarding hobby of many of us, and rightfully so. We face so many challenges in these shadow lands. But for those of us who believe in the Lord, there are foxholes, beckoning us with promises of safety.
I first came across the idea of foxholes while watching a wartime movie. I hadn’t thought much about the meaning or purpose of a foxhole before. As I looked into their meaning, I discovered that foxholes were bottle-shaped holes in the ground. Soldiers took refuge within these holes in the middle of a battle. This is a defensive position that has been in use by the U.S. military since 1943. Foxholes allowed a soldier to fight an advancing enemy with relative safety for a period of time.
Soldiers stand in the foxhole with only their head and shoulders exposed, so they have the ability to use a weapon against the oncoming foe. When the bullets are flying above their head, they can recede to the widened bottom of the foxhole, to crouch and take cover. Foxholes are temporary, though. When an enemy finds the position of one’s hiding place, it is no longer safe to be in it.
Just like these foxholes on a wartime battlefield, in our everyday combat against bills, crying babies, had-been friends, and the real forces of darkness, there are spiritual foxholes to find shelter within. Often times, these periods of latent ‘hiding’ could be the best time to seek out and search the heart of God for a permanent rescue.
We duck in to take cover hoping the raging war will pass away as we sojourn in this hole of safety. But we soon realize that the pursuit of the enemy does not stop at the threshold of our foxholes. Bullets fly whizzing right by our heads. Flaming arrows pierce and wound. Allies become enemies as they struggle to survive the war themselves. Hope is a fleeting friend. The landscape changes with a new weapon of assault everyday. Yet, there is one constant that can make the foxhole experience a holy experience.
Emmanuel, God With Us, Who is even present in times of trouble...God is with us, even in our foxhole.
In my foxhole experiences I have realized three things.
Foxholes force us to walk with God. As the saying goes, ‘There are no atheists in foxholes’. Everyone cries out to Him from the place of impending doom. Foxholes have brought me to the realization that God is sovereign in my life. Our current battles are no surprise to Him. These weapons are not foreign to Him. He may not have been the author of the current struggle, but He knows the best way out.
Every hardship you must face in this battle may have been designed by the enemy for your humiliating defeat, but it will be used by our God to draw us nearer to Him. Proximity to Jesus is the ultimate strength in life. Battle scars that would have indicated shame and humiliation turn into beautiful markings of His faithfulness as we “walk humbly beside” Him. He uses the crucible of battle to mold us into fearsome and wonderful vessels for displaying His glory.
2. Foxholes are wisdom vats. What I could have learned over a decade without tribulation is bequeathed me in accelerated speed during my foxhole experiences. In these spaces where no friend is to be found, if we let Him, Jesus, our faithful friend, will reveal to us mysteries He has learned from the Father.
“I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.” – John 15:15
Who best to learn from in the battlefield than the One who won the ultimate battle against the biggest villain in existence?
3. Foxholes build character. When we have to swim against the current, acquiring strength is inevitable. Our own battle experiences give us the strength of character to forgive and to act with mercy toward others who are engaging similar enemies on different battlefields.
The undeserved place where you have found yourself in, with all of its trials and injustices, is still a place that has full access to your Father. When we call out to Him from our foxholes of misery, He runs out as an enraged parent and whips the enemy back, reminding him of who you are.
“...for whoever touches you touches the apple of his eye” – Zechariah 2:8
You are daughter of the High King. Take heart, dear one. You are the apple of His eye!
When we have to swim against the current, acquiring strength is inevitable.
Cynthia Dobbs met her husband, Destry, in New York where they were both involved in NYC Chi Alpha. Cynthia, originally from Tamil Nadu, India, pioneered XA at BMCC, and was involved with XA at CCNY and Hunter College. The couple now direct the Chi Alpha program at Oklahoma State University where she ministers to students through cell groups, women’s discipleship, and International Student Ministry. She speaks to churches and women’s groups about character development and prayer. Cynthia is also a full-time student in the OSU Biochemistry PhD program.
The Dobbs enjoy spending time with students, good books, travel (when they can), and the antics of their inquisitive school-aged son, Obadiah Benjamin Sheridan Dobbs.