Chandler loves to go off-roading. Two of our campsites last week were found by taking an unpaved road Chandler found and discovering an “undesignated” camping spot. He’s got a knack for this. These are places where people have obviously camped before, they just are not part of an official state, county or National park systems with restrooms, running water and other services. Since the “official” sites require reservations and we had none, we found our best chance of finding a camping spot was exploring.
We actually found campers everywhere and popular recreation areas were overrun with people. People must be tired of being shut up in their homes and looking for ways to get out. We actually had to think about masks and distancing even while camping. So Chandler’s off-road intuition came in quite handy. But one of our off-road experiences put us unknowingly in the middle of a combat zone.
It was actually a route prescribed by his Google map as a way to avoid a big slowdown on the interstate coming into Boise, Idaho. It started out fine, but then we found ourselves going through guard gates of what looked to be some military institution, but they let us through, so we kept on going, until the road went to unpaved gravel and a couple cars in front of us turned back. Not Chandler. He plowed ahead, happy to be off the road again. His map continued to show us on the right route to bypass the interstate, just no indication this was an unpaved road.
That’s when I started to do some research on this place and here is what I found: “The Orchard Combat Training Center is a premier joint combined arms training site located 18 miles south of Boise, Idaho. The 143,000 acre training center is located within the boundaries of the Nelson Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area and has been used by the Idaho National Guard and Army Reserve since 1953. Vast terrain, world class ranges and four-season climate contribute to this being an ideal location to prepare Brigade Combat Teams and other units for combat in a tough and realistic training environment.”
“Chandler,” I said, “we’re in a combat training zone. Let’s hope they’re not doing any training right now.” It didn’t look like anything was going on right then, and probably wasn’t due to the virus which is perhaps why they let us through.
Until we came upon a car on the side of the road that was completely shot up. (See above.) Tires were shredded and hundreds of bullet holes decorated this vehicle “target.” All I could think of to say was, “Gee, I hope that’s not what happened to the last guy who tried to make it through here!” Needless to say, we kept an eye out for anyone approaching after that.
There is a spiritual sense in which we need to be trained for combat. We are always in a combat zone as the enemy can attack at any moment. We can easily be lulled to sleep by our complacency and not realize the evil one’s influence. “Be alert and of sober mind,” wrote Peter. “Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8).
Sounds pretty serious. However, this is not something we need to fear — just be prepared. And we are prepared by the armor already given us through the truth, the righteousness, the gospel, faith, salvation and the word of God which are all pieces of our protective armor that keep us safe in the combat zone. So we can stand firm.
Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. Ephesians 6:14-18