Here we are only a couple of weeks into the New Year. So, how are you doing? Are you already feeling overwhelmed, burned out, and ready for another vacation? Or are you ready to drive a stake into the ground, take a stand, and declare, “This year will be different! I will not give up, fade away, sit back, and wither away! I choose a different path that may be less trodden but take it I will! My current path is well worn but leading nowhere! I’m ready to step off the old and onto the new, and may God help me!”
Although I’ve never seen the movie simply called 300, the history upon which it was based has always intrigued me. The year was 480 B.C. The Persian army, led by King Xerxes, was the greatest the world had ever seen. Eighty thousand men rode on horseback or in chariots, and around them marched foot soldiers and archers beyond counting.
When they marched, it was said the ground trembled. When they ate, it was as though locusts had devoured all in their path. When they drank, it seemed that entire ponds were dried up and rivers reduced to a trickle. It took a full week for this colossal and terrible army to pass by the king in review.
After four years of preparation, King Xerxes set out from Susa to avenge the defeat of his father, Darius. He intended to conquer Greece, which at this time was not yet the shining empire it would once become. The quarrelsome Greeks were as much at war with each other as they would be with the Persians.
So it was that this super-army of perhaps 250,000 soldiers (Herodotus said three million) was opposed by a rag-tag force of 7,000 Greeks from five city-states. At their core, 300 Spartans were trained to stand or die. They were led by a 55-year-old prince named Leonidas, and they took their stand in a narrow pass, twenty yards wide.
At first, the Persians must have looked at this encounter as a simple mop-up operation, but for two days the unstoppable were stopped. Only after a betrayal did the Spartans find themselves surrounded, and when swords were gone, according to Herodotus, they fought on with their hands and teeth. Before their imminent death, they sent home this stirring message which became their epitaph: “Stranger, tell the Spartans that we behaved as they would wish us to, and are buried there.”
That little band of Greek warriors had no idea what was to come. They could never have known how their courage would trigger a surge of pride and inspire their fellow countrymen to eventually defeat the Persians, and within thirty short years, Athens became the most influential city the world has ever known. (Adapted from Os Guinness, The Call, 87-89.)
Dedicated and courageous, the 300 did their duty. They did not give up, fade away, sit back, or wither away. They chose a different path that led to greater triumph, even in the wake of defeat.
My question for you is this: Will it be said of you, “Stranger, tell our Lord that I have behaved as He would wish me to behave, and I am buried here”? For when you take a stand for Jesus, regardless of the immediate outcome, victory will one day follow.
“Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:58).