If there is one thing I think about when I hear or see anything having to do with our military, it is loyalty. I just can't fathom a role of sacrifice more loyal. And that loyalty to a country too fragmented to recognize and a people too faulty to wholly appreciate their service. Just what is it that drives these men and women? And in what way can I be more like them?
In WWII times fighter pilots would use the phrase, "Who is your six?" This refers to the position on the clock - 6:00 - which would, in an aircraft, be the rear of the plane. Enemy jets would strategically seek to tail their foes to garner best position for maximum impact and destruction. It was very important, vital, for each fighter jet to have a "six" - someone who was watching their back, their blind spot, their point of greatest vulnerability. Interestingly, in biblical commentaries, the number six is said to be related to human weakness. Man was created on the 6th day and... oh, how weak we were to the blind spot of sin in the garden...
This really got me thinking. Of course, the obvious is about who those people are in your own life who have your back, who you know, without a shadow of a doubt, would defend you and protect your name and honor no matter the circumstance or audience. These "sixes" would protect your blind spot no matter the amount of leverage a defamation concerning you/your name could contribute to their wordly good. And that old adage is so very true - the older you get, the fewer people in our lives fall into this category of "sixes".
A little deeper dive into this spot of vulnerability leads me to the place of wreckage experienced when those you truly thought were guarding your "six", were in fact, simply not. It may have appeared that they were keeping in step at your "three" and your "nine", by your side when the enemy threatened to overtake you - sending a smile, a wink, a text, a meme, an email of praise. So you felt secure as you entered the battle - a battle far less frightening to face with the knowledge of wing men and women you thought necessary to come out alive.
Once the enemy came into clear view, coming at you like a game of chicken, you didn't move this time. You stood your ground, held that steering wheel so tightly that your fingers began to sweat. You felt confident in your posse' of "sixes". You saw your greatest foe swerve to the left, knowing the power of this adversary and his sinister jockeying for the upper hand. You almost heard him laugh as he cut the air past you and went for your blind spot. But you had your "six", your "sixes", or at least you thought you did.
Flying blind, it was like a dark cloud overtook you, your greatest fear realized and your team of "sixes" disengaged. The pull of the enemy too great with his offerings of prestige, praise and backhanded compliments, your once confidants succumbed to the path of least resistance. And left your blind spot exposed. The gripping fear of the next several moments overwhelming, you closed your eyes in submission to the inevitable. And prayed.
It is in these moments of deep disappointment and pain, of the stripping away of human supports and more shallow connections where we realize the power of the one who never leaves our blind spots - Jesus. There simply are no blind spots in a life with Jesus.
This reminds me of the story from Exodus in the bible of Moses leading the Israelites out of Egypt and of Pharoah's evil ways and hardened heart into the Promised Land...by way of the "wilderness." Surely this felt very much like a whole host of blind spots looming. Nowhere to hide, food and water scarce, and seemingly all alone.
"They moved on from Succoth and then camped at Etham at the edge of the wilderness. God went ahead of them in a Pillar of Cloud during the day to guide them on the way, and at night in a Pillar of Fire to give them light; thus they could travel both day and night. The Pillar of Cloud by day and the Pillar of Fire by night never left the people." Exodus 13:21-22.
God appeared to his people in physical form! He lit the Israelites' path, protected then from their enemies and provided all of the reassurance and guidance necessary to get to the promised land. He covered every single possible blind spot then...and He does so now with His gift of the Holy Spirit living who dwells within us.
Sometimes, it takes the very stripping down naked of literally everything and everyone we think we have and need to bring us to the realization of not only our deep deep need for a Savior, but our truly helpless state without Him. The power of Jesus being our "six" hits differently after such a deeply hurtful human experience. But if anyone understands a deeply wounding human disappointment, it is Jesus. Being able to connect with Him simultaneously in these moments of excruciating human hurt and supernatural submissive trust is a blessed mystery.
It is also safe to say that Jesus is our forever loyal "six". He always has our back and we never have to fear being overtaken by the enemy. He is our strength and portion forever. Believing and accepting the gift of His presence and protection allows us to truly fly without fear for our future. Wingman - check, "nine" - check, "three" - check, "six" - double check. Amen.