Now it came about when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing opposite him with his sword drawn in his hand, and Joshua went to him and said to him, "Are you for us or for our adversaries?" He said, “No; rather I indeed come now as captain of the host of the LORD.” And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and bowed down, and said to him, “What has my lord to say to his servant?”
Then Elisha prayed and said, "O LORD, I pray, open his eyes that he may see." And the LORD opened the servant's eyes and he saw; and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.
2 Kings 6:17
As I began to plot Black Flag, Black Ship, it became very apparent that contemplating God's sovereignty got my creative juices flowing. Far from being a dispassionate Creator who stepped back from His masterpiece the universe after He created it, I think that scripture and history show that God is completely, actively, and passionately involved in the lives of his children.
As one who has witnessed horrible death and senseless personal tragedies, it would be easy for me to fall into the trap of asking, "If the LORD is so loving, then why did He let this happen?" I had to learn not to ask God, "Are you for me or against me?" Instead I learned to ask in the midst of my crisis as Joshua did, "What has my lord to say to his servant?"
Yet I have seen the sovereign hand of God, in moments of great beauty acting on behalf of friends, my family, those in my prayers, and entire nations. I have witnessed the angelic opposing the demonic, miraculous healings, and what charismatics call "signs and wonders."
One thing I have learned is that the world is not a safe place and it's very, very wise to stick close to God, no matter the outcome. In the midst of our own personal battles, it's often very easy to forget that the LORD God of armies does have a battle plan that will not fail. As it says in Proverbs 21:30, "There is no wisdom, no insight, no plan that can succeed against the LORD."
In this story I ask the question, what would it look like if God did go to war on behalf of His people? Could a helpless band of unfortunates in the middle of nowhere, who call out to God for help, defeat a numerically superior and highly-motivated enemy? The answer: you betcha!
For scriptural confirmation, the Bible is full of examples of God's active warfare on behalf of those whom He loves in both the Old and New Testament. The stories of the Exodus and miraculous acts of Gideon, Sampson, and prophets like Elijah and Elisha are found in the Old Testament. In the New Testament, the Gospels, the book of Acts, and very fact that God send Jesus to earth to destroy the works of the enemy and welcome undeserving humanity into His family through the atoning act of Jesus should turn hand-wringing, helpless Christians into confident, boisterous "let me at 'em" participants in advancing the Kingdom of God.
For a recent historical example of the LORD God of armies, I can point to the TV series Against All Odds: In Search of a Miracle that shows time and time again the sovereign and active hand of God in some very incredible war stories from the Middle East. I think I've seen the complete series at least three times. The personal testimonies and re-enactments still make my hair stand on end.
The book, Table in the Presence by LT. Carey Cash, is a must read for any veteran or family member of a veteran. Cash's own personal testimony on how he became a US Navy Chaplain is incredible in itself, much less what happened to the marines he served. He is a firm believer that angels were actively engaged in the fight alongside 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment.
So, satisfied that I could defend the premise of my story, I began writing Black Flag, Black Ship.