Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Stay in Formation

A slight bit of gaming workmanship caught my attention this week. While sipping myself to full consciousness with Mrs. Dadmanly one morning this weekend, I came to the following insight.

Little Manly owns a Playstation game, I believe it’s Call of Duty 2: Big Red One. I will remember that title I think, because the Lad polished off the entire game, all levels, within his first two days of summer vacation. Not.his.money’s.worth. But then, as he paid for it himself, who am I to complain?

One of the levels involves flying in a formation of Liberators I believe. (Would that be B-24s, my historically unchallenged friends?)

Among the many added environmental touches in these games are dialog and other atmospherics that add to the realism, or impact.

That morning I overheard a commander in the game sternly instruct my son at the controller, “Don’t take evasive action, don’t break formation.”

That resonated. I think that’s a useful metaphor for a lot of situations in life, and an important way God works in situations. A way that too frequently we miss, misunderstand, avoid, or try to take for granted.

In the context of the game, “pilots” are ordered to stay in formation, not to take evasive action, as they fly through a shower of anti-aircraft fire. They are to remain on target, not swerve or try to avoid the deadly flak as planes all around them were sent careening ground-ward in flames.

I’m no aerial warfare specialist, but I imagine that this principle of aerial bombing attack follows a rule reminiscent of 18th century infantry tactics: maintain ranks. Many will be struck down but not all. Keep focused on the target.

Individual compliance to the order of the whole is the secret to success.

If each one thinks, I need to protect myself, and takes evasive action, then the whole will falter and the goal likely lost. We can also harm others in formation, if we turn or pull out, we can crash into those next to us, and they fail in their goal as well.

I think God often has multiple people motivated towards a goal. Whether he explicitly sets them all in parallel motion, or whether in the course of His leading of His servants, others join in, either way, there’s a formation towards the goal.

Not all will follow through to the objective. Some will fall away or be struck down. But He intends all to be part of the whole to accomplish His purpose.

I think that tells us something important about the formations in which we will sometimes find ourselves.

We may be the sole reason for accomplishment of some higher purpose, or merely part of a larger whole that fulfills a mission. By our commitment, we may encourage or strengthen others. By our faith, we ensure we don’t collide with others, or shake their confidence.

Ignore the flak. Stay the course. Have confidence in your purpose, and hope in your success. Keep true to your objective, with honor and in fellowship with those flying beside you.

Stay in formation.