“A conflict is any situation in which there is an irreconcilable clash between two opposing wills.” Charles Heal- Sound Doctrine: A Tacitcal Primer
I read Heal’s book earlier this year. He was a former commander in the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. The book is a tactical primer on fundamental principles that form sound doctrine in resolving crisis. In his chapter on crisis and conflict he lists five characteristics that are common in every conflict. All humans encounter these characteristics. As I read these I though, God does not. My mind began thinking about how God’s sovreignty reigns over these characteristics while we do our best to manage them in law enforcement.
1. Conflicts “are among the most confusing likely to be encountered by anyone.” Heal says that the reason for this being true is a lack of reliable information. Even the information that is available can be incomplete, ambiguous and conflicting. “The dynamic interplay between the will of the suspect and the will of the commander makes these situations particularly difficult and complex.”
“But you (God) do see, for you note mischief and vexation, that you may take it into your hands; to you the helpless commits himself; you have been the helper of the fatherless. Break the arm of the wicked and evildoer; call his wickedness to account till you find none.” (Psalm 10:14-16) God notes every act of mischief and vexation and is never short on reliable, complete information. He knows it all. He sees it all. In his timing and in his will he executes justice against evil on behalf of those who are weak.
2. “Because of the countless factors that impinge on tactical situations, a commander must accept some degree of risk.” There is a constant weighing and evaluation of the degree of risk in comparison to the likelihood of success. Given the fact that much of the information received in a conflict can be unreliable or wrong, this adds stress to the situation.
“But you, O Lord, laugh at them; you hold all the nations in derision. O my Strength, I will watch for you, for you, O God, are my fortress. My God in his steadfast love will meet me; God will let me look in triumph on my enemies.” (Psalm 59:8-10) The most wickedly skillful sinners pose no risk to God. No sword can kill, no bomb can blow up, no bullet can tear, and no bow can be stretched against the will of God. What he wills, he does. He exherts his will on mankind and none can stand against him as a threat. He scoffs and laughs at the likes of serial killers and suicide bombers.
3. “Each episode in an operation is the result of a unique and temporary combination of circumstances. All tactical operations are time sensitive.” The goal in any successful operation is to exploit the time to one’s own advantage. Sometimes this will mean moving quickly (establishing a perimeter) and other times it will be showing lots of patience (negotiations).
“But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” (II Peter 3:8) Time is of no concern to God. He does not feel any need to rush to action. He has no concern for the slowness of time. He created time and is outside of the constraints of time, and that is an amazing truth to ponder.
4. “Because interventions are always human activities, characteristics such as training, experience, maturity, emotion, prejudice, and discipline deeply affect individual and collective efforts.” A successful outcome is not dependent merely on hardware (type of firearms, ammounts of ammunition, kinds of equipment). The human dimension is always a factor and there is always a potential for human emotions and actions to inflame.
“The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stonghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? When evildoers assail me to eat up my flesh, my adversaries and foes, it is they who stumble and fall.” (Psalm 27:1-2) God never experiences the emotion of fear. He is always a stronghold and he never shakes or cracks under pressure from the enemy. He never even feels pressure! I have go to training to increase my knowledge and the range to my maintain my shooting ability. God operates on a perfectionistic level that is not influenced by training, experience or prejudice.
5. “Each encounter in a tactical situation will tend to grow increasingly more complex and disordered over time. Since the the situation is continously changing, a commander is forced to improvise again and again until the final actions may have little resemblance to the original scheme.” The outcome is never certain and plans need to be adapted to factor new information in an evolving situation.
“O Lord, you are my God; I will exalt you; I will praise your name, for you have done wonderful things, plans formed of old, faithful and sure. For you have made the city a heap, the fortified city a ruin; the foreigners’ palace is a city no more; it will never be rebuilt.” (Isaiah 25:1-2) God never improvises and never has to adapt or change his plan becomes of some new information. He has set plans in motion and they accomplish what he intends for them to. If God wills a city to crumble and never be rebuilt, it happens.
Isaiah tells us what we are to do with this reality. We are meant to exalt God and praise him for his wonderful works and his sovereignly ordained acts. They are faithful and sure and we can trust in him because he directs all things for his glory and the good of those who love him.