Published on the Atlanta Journal Constitution – Faith & Values Column – 09.03.16 –
Manfred Albrecht Freiherr von Richthofen was a famous German fighter pilot with the Imperial German Army Air Service during World War I. Famously known as the Red Baron due to his distinctive red Fokker aircraft, Richthofen shot down more combat planes than anyone else on either side in the first world war.
On April 21, 1918, while engaged in the battle over the Morlancourt Ridge near the Somme River in France, he began chasing a Canadian plane that was trying to escape the German attacks. As the Red Baron pursued his prey, he strayed behind Allied lines.
He started diving low into the enemy lines, and did not see Canadian pilot Arthur “Roy” Brown, who quickly approached in an attempt to save his comrade.
We will never know whether it was a shot from the ground or a shot from Brown that killed Richthofen. But what we do know is that the Red Baron came to his end because he made the mistake of pursuing that Allied plane too long, too far and too low into enemy territory.
We have all heard stories, or even suffered the dire consequences of immoral, unwise or unhealthy decisions. Whether they were our own bad choices or those made by people close to us, we have witnessed numerous lives scarred by adultery, addictions or uncontrolled debt.
We’ve witnessed marriages that we thought to be solid, marred and destroyed by one person’s uncontrolled lust. We’ve heard of teenagers bound by drug or alcohol abuse. And we’ve known people who cannot control their spending or gambling.
When the news about the disastrous consequences of their choices reaches us, we are often caught unawares.
The true story of the Red Baron, however, masterfully illustrates an undeniable fact: Although total defeat may happen suddenly, positioning for defeat is a gradual process. Husbands and wives don’t wake up one day and proclaim, “Today, I am going to cheat on my spouse.” Likewise, no one has the first drink or experiments with drugs for the first time with the intention of becoming an addict. It usually starts with one small decision and one compromise at a time.Although total defeat may happen suddenly, positioning for defeat is a gradual process. Click To Tweet
“A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough.” When he wrote these famous words, the apostle Paul was addressing the Galatian church about the perils of false teachings. However, the truth behind this verse spreads far beyond its original context.
We know our personal weaknesses, as well as the temptations that lurk around in our deepest thoughts. Nevertheless, many of us fool ourselves by thinking we can control and master enticing situations. People with marital problems open the door to compromising positions, which can easily lead to adultery. People with addicting personalities know better than to drink or do drugs again, and yet, their arms voluntarily reach forward to the very thing that binds them.
One small decision at a time and at a slow, however steady pace, anyone is liable to descend into enemy’s territory while fooling with the very things that we cannot control. And before we know it, sin has so entangled our lives and thoughts, that we cannot escape its grip.
I personally refuse to be so naïve as to think that I can’t fall into temptation. I know there’s an enemy out there, who would love nothing more than to render my life ineffective and defeated. Therefore, I choose to stay away from the territories that offer anything that may trick me to fall. I don’t want to be counted as one more person who has been shot down because of choosing to live for too long, too far and too low into enemy territory, thus allowing my testimony, family or health to suffer the consequences of my negligence.
Patricia Holbrook is a Christian author, blogger and International speaker. Her Book Twelve Inches is on sale at Barnes & Nobles, Amazon and retailers worldwide. Visit her website www.soaringwithHim.com. For speaking engagements and comments, email pholbrook@soaringwithHim.com