I spotted him, just twenty feet away on the mountain trail. There we were, so far from home. To be exact, we were 1446 miles from Sweet Home Alabama. We were standing atop Cadillac Mountain, the spot where you can see the sunrise first in the United States. The view was magnificent in every direction. To the east, I could see Sheep Porcupine Island and Bald Porcupine Island. To the north, I could see the town of Bar Harbor, Maine. To the west, I could see Eagle Lake and Blue Hill Mountain. To the south, I could see Southwest Harbor, Maine. And right in front of me, I could see the man wearing a “War Eagle” sweatshirt.
In order for non-Alabamians to understand the grand significance of this situation, I must explain a piece of Alabama culture. You see, our state is a divided state, based on allegiance to two college football teams. One is either a fan of the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, or a fan of Auburn University in Auburn, Alabama. Bama fans wear crimson and say “Roll Tide” a lot. Auburn fans wear orange and say “War Eagle” a lot.
I casually walked along the narrow mountain trail toward the man. When I reached him, I slid past him, never making eye contact. Ever so quietly I breathed, “Roll Tide.”
The man jerked to a stop and spun around. First he stuttered and then he shouted. “Uh, uh, War Eagle!”
We can encounter “enemies” at the most unexpected times and in the most unexpected locations. A friend can say something hurtful to us or about us. A team member can begin working against us instead of with us. A supporter can turn on us and become our worst nightmare. The key to surviving the unexpected is to recognize the true enemy.
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12 NIV).