I remember our Brother Sandeep a while back used a phrase which stuck with me, he said something to the effect of (I'm paraphrasing): "The spiritual ones who make progress are the ones who: stay low, keep calm, and press on."
It reminded me that my mission as a Christian soldier is to maintain a laser-focus on my main calling: devotion to Jesus (2 Cor 11:3), to seek His kingdom and His righteousness (Matt 6:33), without getting distracted with all attractions, burdens, problems, and fights, of this lower passing world.
“No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier.” 2 Timothy 2:4
If a Christian will succeed at the highest goal and make their life of any eternal value, he or she must in humility die to many things, not get stirred up by unimportant things, and in faith and hope must slowly, patiently press into the kingdom.
That phrase stayed with me, and from that phrase the Lord laid a picture-story on my heart of a group of soldiers on a mission who follow that way.
A Rescue Story: Stay Low, Keep Calm, and Press On
There was once a city called “Christianland.” It was wasn't the largest city in the land, but it was the most powerful kingdom, and it was ruled by a mighty, compassionate King. It sat right next to a vast neighboring enemy city, a very attractive, but dangerous one called “Worldlyland.”
10 of the citizens of Christianland decided to take a trip there into Worldlyland to explore, experience and see some of the sites they had heard about (massive architecture, beautiful lights, spectacular buildings, delightful music), and they stayed many days there - longer than they had originally planned. One evening, while they were out exploring late, as they were getting tired and weak, they were all taken captive by a hostile street gang. The gang did not have any intention of returning these folks back to Christianland. Their goal was to keep them and brainwash them so they themselves would not want to go back to Christianland. They didn't want just their money - they wanted THEM. There was no negotiation. They hid them in a large upper room of their complex, which was tucked away in the heart - in the very center of Worldlyland.
Back at home, when it became clear that these 10 were missing, and had not returned home for many days, the King of Christianland sent a group of 12 soldiers into Worldlyland to go rescue its captive citizens. As He sent them off, He promised He would be with them even from afar, and that they would succeed in their mission if they obeyed what He told them. He then spoke one final departing word to them: "Stay low, Keep calm, and Press on."
They left the King, and prepared to depart together. As they prepared, one of the soldiers stood up and said, “Let us go in secretly, keep our heads down, and stay quiet with as little interaction there as possible. We’ll disguise ourselves, pinpoint the location of our brothers and sisters, and quietly lead them out. This is the King's way.” One other solider said, “Why should we have to do that? We’re in the right, we have huge weapons, and we are the most powerful kingdom in the world. We will go in fully armed and attack anybody who stands in our way or tries to hinder our mission."
Five of the soldiers agreed with the first (they wanted to do things the way exactly as the King instructed), and five agreed with the other. So the soldiers split into 2 units of 6 soldiers each: one group was called the "Zealots Unit", and the other group, which would obey and follow the way the King said to do it was called the "Meek Unit."
So the two units proceeded separately to Worldlyland with the same goal, but with very different strategies.
They all journeyed over, and immediately upon approaching the front gates, the Zealots busted into the city with force. Almost immediately they were involved in a fierce battle and spent the whole first day in a ditch, trying to advance while being held off by much attack. There was a lot of noise - clashing of weapons and metal, fiery arrows flying, yelling, arguing across the street and fighting with the evil Worldlyland soldiers.
Meanwhile the Meek unit went around and snuck into the back gate of the city, dressed in regular clothes. The leader of the Meek team kept saying to his unit: "Stay Low, Keep Calm and Press On." They did not have time or ambition for a fight with all those in Worldlyland, the gang was the real enemy, and their mission was one of rescue, not one of fighting the people of the city. In fact they didn’t even bring weapons, except for two hidden swords among all of them in order to defend themselves in case the need arose. But they had no desire or intention to use them.
The Zealot Unit was stuck, making no progress. Some wanted to return to Christianland, but the pressure was rising. They were not accomplishing anything, even after much time fighting.
The Meek proceeded through the back of Worldlyland with as little interaction with the people there as possible. They asked some random, average Worldlylandians some questions, to try to get some hint as to where their brothers and sisters might be. At one point a group of Worldlyland soldiers noticed them. As they approached from a distance, the leader of the Meek unit reminded the team with a whisper, "Stay low, keep calm, and press on."
So the Worldlyland soldiers came up to them and demanded to know who they were. The team explained that they were not from this country, they are from another kingdom, but they did not give too many details. The soldiers became increasingly angry, yet the Meek team refused to argue with them or reveal too much, and they returned many hostile words with gentle ones. The soldiers and some hateful citizens tried to force them to join their people for their large city-wide party, (for the way that one makes peace with Worldlyland and the citizens of Worldlyland is to join the ongoing party which never stops there, it is their most important tradition). Yet the Meek refused, they knew the evil that happened there and the change that happens to people when someone surrenders over and decides to attend that party.
So they were beaten right there in an alleyway, with those Worldlyland citizens nearby joining in with the evil soldiers. The Meek didn’t return any reviling and they didn’t attack or fight in return. As all 6 of them laid on the ground being beaten, the team leader reiterated with a whisper of encouragement, "Stay low, keep calm and press on." In other words: they would resist the temptation of the party, endure the suffering, and continue on. The hostiles eventually left the Meek soldiers there lying in the street, bruised and bloody.
After everybody left, the Meek soldiers got up. They tended to each other, and comforted and encouraged each other as they set out to continue looking for the missing Christianland brothers and sisters; "Stay low, keep calm, and press on." One fellow and his wife who lived in Worldlyland saw all of this from a distance. They were so impressed by the conduct of these soldiers, and their hearts were so pierced at how different their own lives looked, that they followed them from a distance for a little while and upon continuing to see how different the character was from themselves and all these citizens of this other country, they couldn't hold back from approaching them and insisting that they wanted to join them. With all of the pleasure and lights and colors of Worldlyland, they now saw it for what it was - evil. They desired a better kingdom, one where righteousness, love, joy and peace dwell.
And the Meek Christianland soldiers were glad to let them join. The couple asked the team how they were so different, and what they were doing there. They said, "We are from Christianland, and our King saved our lives, and built a heavenly kingdom, and is helping us to live like this, as He is. And we now live for Him - the One who reigns in righteousness and rules with justice. And everybody who chooses to love the King and wants to live in righteousness, holiness and mercy like Him can enter." The couple was so filled with joy, they left everything, all of their possessions and family behind to join this group of Meek Christianland soldiers. They then proceeded to share with them all they knew about the kidnapping of the sojourners from Christianland. They knew where in the city the gang generally stayed, and after some days, as they continued walking through and searching the city, they finally noticed what was a short red-colored piece of rope hanging out of the high window on a building, 3 floors up. They knew - it was a sign from their fellows citizens of Christianland - "We are here, we need help, and we have faith our King will rescue us."
Meanwhile the Zealot unit was still fighting and so far they advanced only to a ditch 2 blocks ahead from where they started. They were continuing to be embroiled in the fighting, and they lost a couple soldiers of their team as these 2 were so tired of fighting, and so attracted to the surrounding sites and the deceiving promise of rest, that they laid down their weapons and suits in surrender and decided to join the citizens of Worldlyland, instead of continue on. So the team lost 2, as the other 4 continued to be distracted by much useless battle.
The Meek unit in the late evening crept up outside of the building where the captives were being held, and they threw up to the window the end of a long rope that they had found, that also happened to be the same color of red which the captive's short signal rope hanging from the window was. A red rope was their cry for help, and a red rope was now their salvation.
In the middle of pitch black night, each captive was lowered down the long red rope and in the dark of night the Meek team led them all out of the city, to return quietly to Christianland with all captives, and with the two from Worldlyland who joined them.
As they were heading back on the road they glimpsed from a distance the remaining 4 of the Zealot unit hiding in some bushes. They signaled to them that they had succeeded and were finally heading back. So the Zealot unit was able to soon also sneak off as they followed shortly after.
The Meek were tired and bruised, but glad that their mission and pilgrimage through Worldlyland was over, and they were full of so much joy that what hurt intensely before (their wounds), they did not feel the pain of anymore - similar to how a woman has a baby and does not feel the pain because of the joy she has when her child comes into the world. As they entered through the large gates of Christianland the next day upon their return, their bruises (from when they patiently endured suffering and being persecuted for not joining the Worldlyland party) were a banner, an "honor-badge" for them. It was a reminder of love, dedication to their King and to the people, as a price they contently paid to show their love to the King and to bring the captives back. The kingdom celebrated and the King was very proud.
Shortly behind, what was left of the Zealot team followed, and they were received back in, with merciful arms - though the joy and celebration was not the same. Then there was sadness and regret upon seeing that they had lost part of their team to Worldlyland.
Upon seeing all the people again, and the huge celebration, the Meek team had glowing smiles on their faces out of gladness. They then looked over at the King who had an even larger smile of joy as He was lovingly gazing at them. His joy was not in the decorations or the celebration, but in the Meek team themselves. He himself had sacrificed unspeakable things to build His Kingdom with these brothers and sisters of His, long ago He sacrificed many things which no one will ever understand. But now He was full of unspeakable joy - more than anyone else - to see that His brothers and sisters also partook of the same type of suffering and sacrifice for love of Him, and for love of others, and they shared in His same spirit as they brought back the captives.
Someone from the crowd, asked one of the Meek Unit members "How did you do it?" A sister from the Meek Unit said - we stayed low (with humility), we kept calm (with faith in the King to overcome our fears), and we pressed on without getting distracted by the attractions and wars and problems in the evil Worldlyland.
They celebrated together, and many from Christianland decided they wanted to also be strong and humble like the Meek soldiers and like the King, and so they trained from then on to be just like that. Nobody wanted to join the Zealot unit after that seeing how all of their fighting with hostile weapons from fear and hostility accomplished ZERO for the Christianland kingdom.
They now understood what real strength was. It was humility and meekness. They also wanted to attract as many from Worldlyland as they could to come to Christianland (as the couple did) since one day very soon, the King revealed that Worldlyland would be destroyed forever. But Christianland, and all who are in it because of the King have eternal life and will last forever there with him, just as He lives forever.
Humility and meekness are the real strength in the Kingdom of God and Christ. Those who spend their days on this earth distracted with "self" - laboring for self, and in pride - fighting, arguing, criticizing and judging, and looking down on the world or on other Christian denominations which don’t believe the same way, accomplish zero for His kingdom, and will regret it in the end.
Living for the Lord in all humility and meekness is the real powerful life, and the only way to fight the war against Satan and the kingdom of darkness while on this earth. "Stay low, keep calm, and press on." It's the strength to not be deterred or distracted by anything of this world, not the arguments, not the people not the attraction. Not the persecution, and not distracted by all the problems and pain/suffering in this passing world. To be single minded for the Lord, the King; that is real strength.
The godly will in all meekness “stay low, keep calm and press on.”
They will stay low - with no desire to do things their own way, to get attention and prove themselves great. In obedience to the King, and in humility they will not fight the world, defend themselves, or prove themselves right. They accept any difficult mission with submissiveness, according to the King's will.
They will keep calm - They have a King who is mighty, and will save them if any trouble arises. By the king they overcome all fear.
They will press on - difficulty and temptation will come, but they are strong and overcome because of the confidence and hope they have in the King and in the promises He has given, and the help He continues to give. They press on to fight the remaining of worldliness and unChrist-likeness which they see in themselves, and they don't complain of difficulty anymore: one day their bruises of suffering will be their crown, if they remain faithful. They disregard and set aside all hindrances so they can press on toward their goal.
“Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.” Matthew 5:5