Do You Know Your Leader?

Early on the morning of October 19, 1864, near Cedar Creek, a tributary of the Shenandoah River, in Shenandoah County, Virginia, a Confederate force under General Jubal A. Early, made a surprise attack on contingents of the Army of the Shenandoah, under the command of General Philip H. Sheridan. Under cover of the predawn darkness, and taking advantage of a fog that veiled their movement, Early's forces quickly advanced as far as Middletown, Virginia. Meanwhile, Sheridan, who had been absent from the front on official business, upon learning what was taking place, made a rapid ride that was to later become famous. Rejoining his retreating troops, he rode rapidly to the front, where he rallied his men, and in an amazing turnaround, succeeded in breaking the Confederate lines, driving them back and winning a decisive victory.

General Phil Sheridan

Sheridan brought no reinforcements with him. How, we might ask, could the presence of one soldier, more or less, make such a profound difference in the outcome of the contest? The answer is found in the strength and leadership of that soldier. By his presence, Sheridan was able to transform a quaking mob into an efficient fighting machine, and thereby change the entire course of the battle. They were inspired by his spirit; made strong in his strength.

It is said that Alexander's soldiers looked forward to battle with an almost eager anticipation. Why? Because they had known nothing of defeat. It is not difficult to be enthusiastic about the engagement when a favorable outcome is not in question. And why were Alexander's soldiers so successful? Their strength was to be found in their leader. They were considered invincible because of the man who led them. He inspired them with his spirit and under his leading no enemy could stand before them.

In the last great conflict for world domination between Persia and Greece, at the Battle of Arbela, Alexander, with 47,000 men, faced a Persian force that was by some estimates over one million. If sheer numbers were any indication of the certainty of success, the outcome would have been a foregone conclusion. History confirms, however, that numbers meant little, while leadership meant everything.

It is not difficult for a soldier to feel confidence when he sees the enemy give way before him. If a soldier has known nothing but defeat, however, how easy it is to become dispirited and fearful. Many people find this to be true in their Christian experience. They know a great deal about failure, but little of success. The Lord does not, however, desire that this should be our experience. If we are willing, He will give us day by day those experiences that build our confidence in the inevitable outcome of our conflict with the powers of darkness. Then, when we come, as it were, to our field of Arbela, it will not be with fear in our hearts for the apparent superiority of the enemy, but with a confidence in our Leader that is born by an experience, and which nothing can shake. We need to have the daily experiencing of testing the Lord and learning in our every day experience the success that attends His certain leading.

We have a Leader who has never known defeat. Under His leadership, there can be no excuse for defeat in the Christian life, so when we find ourselves going down in defeat before the enemy's onslaughts, we need to search for the reason, as defeat never comes without a cause. The problem is that, until the heart and affections are wholly on the Lord's side, the enemy will gain constant victories over us through his subtle temptations.

The question to be answered in every mind is the reality of where the loyalty lies. Does the Lord have our undivided loyalty? If He has, it will be true in every aspect of the life, and will be reflected in an experience of rejoicing in the Lord, for we will know by experience that regardless of the appearance, all things do work for the good of those who love the Lord, and who have accepted their high calling in Christ Jesus. The greater the efforts of Satan to accomplish our destruction, the greater will be our victory achieved in overcoming them.