(From Black Ships before Troy): “Then Achilles raised his great war cry, and thrust onward, all the Greek war host behind him. Soon they were close before the city, and the Scaean Gate was choked with men and chariots, hunted and hunters. In that hour the Greeks might indeed have forced their way into Troy, and the long siege might have been ended. But Paris stood in the gate tower, fitting a new string to his bow, for the old one was frayed with much use. He chose an arrow from his quiver, leaned far out, and took aim at Achilles in the crush that surged below.
The arrow flew on its way, and Apollo guided it so that it pitched deep into the battle mass and, among all the trampling feet, found the target it was meant for. It struck into Achilles’ ankle in the unprotected place below the leg guard, the place where his mother Thetis had held him when she dipped her babe in the river Styx, the one spot that the water had not touched, and so could let death in.”
Achilles' heel. It’s an expression that comes from the ancient Greek myth of Achilles, about the one spot on his body where he was vulnerable. It modern times it is often used to refer to a character weakness in an individual.
But in the original myth it was through no fault of his own that Achilles was forever vulnerable in one obscure place on his body. It was because of something that had happened to him through the actions of another. He knew where his weak place was, and that it would be the cause of his premature death, and yet he chose to go into battle anyway.
It’s good when we become self-aware enough to know where our vulnerable places are. Often it takes many years of life for us to figure out, “Oh, this is something I always over-react to,” or, “When someone says that it upsets me unduly,” or, “When such and such happens it throws me into days of deep depression.”
The first step is consciously noticing it, versus just reacting. Then, we can take the next step and figure out what triggers it. If we are brave, we dig a little deeper, and ask ourselves, “why.” That, my friends, can be a painful journey.
And we have to go on living in the meantime. We can’t just stay in bed because some random fiery dart might hit our weak spot and hurt us. And they do hit and hurt, when we least expect it.
Sometimes it feels as if we are powerless to stop the pain, even after we gain a measure of understand about what is happening.
But because I don’t buy into the Greek fatalistic world-view, I do believe we have the ability to change the outcome. Once we know where our weak points are, we can ask for God’s protection and healing of those areas of our lives.
I’m in this process myself.
I’ve taken a few hits lately; in areas I know all too well that I am vulnerable. (No, I am not going to publish them on the Internet. I’m transparent, not stupid.) Most of them came from people I really, really love and who love me. I hate it when that happens. But it does help to see who the real enemy is.
You see, Satan has everyone’s blueprint. He knows about those weaknesses too. And he delights in finding creative ways to get at us in the most painful twisted ways possible. Like Apollo, the god who guided the arrow from the mortal man Paris, Satan puts words into people’s mouths that he knows will hurt us, even when they have no idea that what they are saying is piercing our hearts.
(Okay, sometimes they do. But that’s not the point.)
Just want to encourage all of you who are in this process, as I am, to remember: “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all to stand. Stand therefore having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness. And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace. Above all, taking the shield of faith wherewith you shall be able to QUENCH ALL the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God.” (Ephesians 6:11-17)
And this, my friends, is no myth. There is hope for us in the truth of God’s Word that all our fiery darts can be quenched.
I find that often as I get closer to a mission trip that darts start flying faster and heavier. Since I’m leaving in three weeks for Liberia, I’m not surprised that I have some fires to put out: “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you.” (I Peter 4:12)
The darts are real. But so is my God. And He’s got my back.
Along with my Achilles heel.