A number of years ago news reporters splashed a bizarre story across the world:“East German youth pilots glider into Red Square!” It was hard to believe, but, on a dare, a seventeen year old from East Germany landed an ultra lite glider in one of the most highly guarded air spaces in the world--Red Square, downtown Moscow, in the Soviet Union. No one imagined such a thing could be done because of the strong Soviet defense system. But in the heart of the Soviet’s strength, the East German had found a weakness.
A middle aged man named Gordon watched that news story on his television and commented remorsefully to his wife, “I feel like that’s what happened to me. I feel like I allowed myself to be attacked and conquered in what should have been my area of greatest strength--my personal integrity.“ His wife nodded in sympathetic agreement. Gordon’s air space had been invaded because he had not guarded his strength.
Gordon’s story is a sad but instructive one. He was a prominent Christian leader, speaker and author. He was widely respected and viewed as a role model by many. But at the height of his effectiveness, Gordon fell off the fidelity wagon. Although married, he had an illicit relationship with his secretary. When he finally came to his senses and ended the affair, Gordon took steps to correct the situation as much as possible. He confessed to his wife and to a small group of men. He voluntarily stepped out of his ministry and submitted himself to the authority of his men’s accountability group. Day by day, inch by inch, Gordon worked to rectify the situation and save his marriage. Now, many years later, Gordon’s marriage is strong, he has regained the wide respect he nearly lost, and he is once again ministering across the country. But he speaks candidly about his fall and how it might have been prevented.
“An unguarded strength is a double weakness”, says Gordon, quoting G. K. Chesterton. Gordon thought he would not--could not--fall in the area of his personal integrity. In fact he told a friend, prior to his affair, “It could never happen, I’m too strong in that area.” But that was the very area he was attacked. Like the intensely defended Normandy beach, which Hitler thought would never be the site of a World War II invasion; Gordon fell in the area of his strength. Gordon would have done well to heed the advice wise man Solomon wrote in Proverbs 16:18, “Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before stumbling.” Pride makes us all blind in the areas where we think we are strong.
Perhaps there’s an area like this in your life. You are probably acutely aware of your weaknesses, and are constantly on guard in those areas of your life. But what about the areas you think you’re strong? Are you guarding those as well? Think through your personal habits, character traits, and talents. Pay particular attention to those areas that could potentially impact your marriage or family relationships. Then identify your “strengths” and resolve not to leave them unguarded. You don’t want to end up like the red faced soldiers guarding Red Square. You don’t want to end up with the regrets of Gordon. Guard your heart.
Above all else, guard your heart,
for it is the wellspring of life. Proverbs 4:23
by Jim Priest