There is a scene in the Oscar-winning film Braveheart in which William Wallace and his boyhood friend, Hamish, meet as grown men after the years Wallace spent in Europe with his uncle.
As boys, Wallace and Hamish had been best of friends, imaging themselves soldiers fighting back against English oppression. After years away, Wallace returns home and Hamish challenges him to a rock throwing contest to prove who is the better soldier. It’s a friendly competition.
After Hamish throws a large rock farther than Wallace does, Wallace commends him on his throw and then asks: “I was wondering if you could do that when it matters…as it matters in battle. Could you crush a man with that throw?”
The contest goes on, as you see in the scene, and Wallace gets the final word.
It’s Wallace’s question, though, that has always stuck with me: “I was wondering if you could do that when it matters…as it matters in battle.”
All man live with a deep need to know that they can do the significant, right, valiant thing “when it matters.” Hamish was strong, and he could throw rocks in a field and he could throw them farther than others, which — to him — made him a better soldier than other men.
But Wallace understood that a rock throwing contest in a field didn’t really mean much. Rather, Hamish needed to be able to do that when it matters, as it matters in battle. And Wallace showed Hamish a higher degree of soldiering when he got the final word. There is humor in the scene, but the point is also clear.
We live at a time when it really matters what kinds of warriors we are. What are we fighting for? Are we growing complacent to the battle? Are we making a terrible agreement with the lie that there actually is no battle?
Wallace understood that a real battle would require far more than Hamish’s ability to throw a large rock a far distance. He had a mindset for battle that was broader than what Hamish understood.
And so it is with us. As we fight for purity and freedom from sexual sin; as we pursue a life unbound from the shackles of lust and pornography addiction; as we pursue authentic life — the “life that is truly life,” as Paul puts it in 1 Tim. 6:19 — we step into the fray of a broad and significant battle.
Hamish had trained for battle at one level. Wallace had trained at a higher level. That made a world of difference.
We have to train to fight when it matters, as it matters in battle. We will not fight well unless we train ourselves with the truth and power of scripture, and we regularly practice four things:
- Coming Clean: getting brutally honest about our hearts with people we trust.
- Building Brotherhood: gathering with men we trust to form a real band of brothers.
- Healing Wounds: taking the journey with God back into our pain so He can mend us.
- Smashing Idols: destroying anything we have given our heart to instead of God.