Not to Go Back

The thunder cracks and the sky drenches the earth, as the dogs in my backyard huddle underneath the storage building, their own aluminum house seeming to them a refuge of limited safety.

I know how they feel.

Oh, not about the little thunderstorm.  Those blow in and out with a certain regularity these Spring nights.  I rather like the noise and bluster, feeling safe enough in my brick house.  It may be a false sense of safety, but it will do for now.

No.  I’m thinking more about this feeling I’ve had for awhile that the world is not such a safe place anymore.  Some days, it feels like I spend so much time hunkered down to avoid the shrapnel that I don’t accomplish anything at all.

Even more frustrating is, glancing around, I see folks on every side still advancing.  I’m staying in the same place, while they move toward the goal.

I hate that!

Did you ever learn to march?  Maybe in the service, or perhaps even in a marching band? 

Do you remember marking time?

I never served in the armed services, but I marched, both in Jr. ROTC and in the band.  I detested marking time.

Detested it.

The amount of energy expended simply to stay in one place was frustrating.  I wanted to just stop and stand there while all the others kept marking time.  Feet going up and down.  Never moving from the spot in which they started.

I never did that.  I just kept marking time with them because I was told to.  I never understood it, though.

The thing I didn’t know was that, in most instances, while one section of the entire group is marking time,  other sections are still moving into place.  Often, the section marking time would be required to blend with the moving section as they arrived at the spot where the stationary marchers waited, the combined squad continuing on down the field.

Have you ever tried to stand still and fall in step with someone who is moving past you?  What happens for the first few steps?  Yeah.  You struggle to catch up, and then to keep up, with the other members of the group.

But, if your feet are already moving at the same pace, even if you’re not moving forward, there is no lost effort in falling into step immediately as they approach.  The ranks remain aligned, the diagonals perfectly straight.

Flawlessly, seamlessly, the whole body moves forward into the formation they have planned and trained for ahead of time.

The storm is passing now, the sound of the battle in the skies retreating into the distance.  It won’t be long and the dogs will be rubbing against my back door, awaiting their next meal and a little ear-scratching from me.

My legs are soldiersinraina little tired, but I think I can mark time a little longer.   I’m not sure how long these missiles are going to be flying overhead. 

Still, I want to be ready to move out when the time comes.

Unlike the dogs, no ear-scratching will be required.




Not to go back is somewhat to advance... ~ Alexander Pope Click To Tweet

Not to go back is somewhat to advance, and men must walk, at least, before they dance.
(Alexander Pope ~ English poet ~ 1688-1744)


Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.
(Ephesians 6:13 ~ ESV)




© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2015. All Rights Reserved.

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