Do you ever think about our soldiers in combat?
I’ve heard several people during these troubling times say we are sending our “kids” over there. To call them “kids” is a grave dishonor to our brave, young men and women in the armed forces.
Those who’ve gone to war in every generation reflect the very best of humanity. These fine soldiers (airmen, sailors, etc.) choose this path deliberately and with full knowledge of the dangers. They may begin their military careers as kids, but our armed services molds them into serious-minded, responsible, and superior warriors with a purpose. That purpose grows stronger when tempered by hardship, loss of comrades,, and when facing a desperate culture where evil runs rampant and human life means less than nothing. From training to combat, our military has learned the truest and deepest meaning of honor, duty, goodness, compassion, and humanity. Through their strength, the evil in the world will not prevail. Balance will be restored. They are willing to stake their very lives for this common goal.
Take a moment as you sit in your comfortable, air conditioned home and really consider one of our soldiers over there. He (or she) has been torn from family, friends, home, comfort and security. He has no family close by, so he creates a new family among his fellow soldiers. They share fears and joy, loneliness and concerns. They grow very close.
The soldier’s former friends are light years removed, so he makes new friends, close friends who are nothing like those left behind. They don’t go to baseball games together, or parties, or bar hopping. They go into battle together. They watch each others’ backs. They probably don’t have many of the same interests and they likely come from very different backgrounds, races and cultures, maybe even languages. And yet their commonality shines through in their belief and support of the same goals. They share life and death. They choose good over evil … for everyone.
The soldier’s new home is a tent, or a blanket on the ground, or maybe an armored vehicle. No one washes his clothes for him. No one prepares his food. He has no one to share his concerns about bills, cars, job, education, or relationships. These things simply don’t exist in this new world. Instead, he learns to be self-sufficient to an extraordinary degree. Cleaning his body, teeth and clothes are not as important as cleaning his rifle, vehicle, and communications equipment. An unclean body means discomfort. An unclean weapon means his life, or worse his comrade’s life. Priorities are reordered.
Comfort does not exist so he redefines it and takes comfort where he can – wet wipes for a shower, lukewarm instant coffee, a letter from home, a quick card game, catnaps, a phone call, an email, a care package, a photo, a memory. There are no McDonald’s or steakhouses, only MREs – Meals Ready to Eat – food in a bag. He can’t hop in a car and run to the mall. Instead, he shares a truck, tank, or an APC with his comrades – if he’s lucky. All too often, feet are the only mode of transportation.
A cold drink? What’s that? Tepid is good; warm more typical; and water usually the only selection. Forget air conditioning during the day — only killing heat exacerbated by heavy, protective clothing. Nighttime takes the opposite extreme with chilling cold and sometimes no shelter. And the sand – it penetrates everything and everywhere. There is no privacy for the soldier. Only long hours of physical strain and unending mental stress. And yet, they endure.
Security does not exist in a war zone. His comrades fall prey to hunger, sickness, injury, death, or capture every day. There is no promise that tomorrow will dawn, only that death stalks with otherworldly patience. Back home he can lock his door, but in the war zone he has no door to lock. At home our laws and police protect his rights. In the midst of battle, the soldier is the law. They protect.
Why does he do this? Why does he endure unbearable hardships and grievous losses? Because he believes. Because he signed on to the cause and it is his job. Because he has faith in his commander and in his commander’s commander. Because others depend on him.
Does the new soldier fully comprehend the hardships of war before he arrives? Of course not. Just as a first-time mother reads all she can about childbearing, she must experience it personally to fully appreciate and understand. So it is with all of life. Soldiers are tempered by their experiences. They grow stronger, both physically and mentally.
Knowing what they know now, would they make the same decisions? Some may not, but many will embrace the call with full and complete knowledge of what lies ahead. Because it’s the right thing for them to do. They believe.
There is also a spiritual war going on, one that does not end, will not end until Judgment Day. Christ is our commander. We are His warriors.
- In the physical war, sometimes the good guys win and sometimes not. In the spiritual war, the good guys WILL win.
- In the physical war, the good guys are outnumbered in the world. So it is in the spiritual war.
- In the physical war, the good guys will suffer, die and endure hardship for their cause. This, too, happens in the spiritual war.
- In the physical war, you sign on for something you believe in. In the spiritual war, you sign on with Jesus Christ – someone you believe in.
- In the physical war, you follow orders. You do your job and do it well. Without question. In the spiritual war — hmmm. Perhaps that is something we should look at a bit closer! If it is our job to fight the good fight for Jesus Christ, then why do we keep trying to pick and choose what we want to do?
Know this, Christians: when you join God’s Army, or any army for that matter, you give up self. You reform. You conform. You transform. You align yourself with your Commander’s goals. That means no more finicky; no more fickle; no more “I, me, my.” You know the mission. You are the mission. You must live the mission.
To be effective in Christ’s army you must become HIS soldier. Remember the slogans: ‘Be All You Can Be”, “Aim High”, “The Few, The Proud”, “Stand Up, Stand Out”, and “Full Speed Ahead”? They may be earthly military slogans, but they certainly apply to the spiritual warfare we face every day. To be effective requires discipline, and a new way of thinking and acting. You must not only accept your role, you must embrace it.
Boot Camp, or basic training, is a must. That’s where the transformation begins. You have to know the rules of warfare, the truth of your commitment, the enemy, and the latest and greatest weaponry to challenge the enemy. It means applying these disciplines and doctrines to all facets of your life. It means combat training in preparation for enemy skirmishes that can occur at any time. It requires “Escape and Evasion” training to avoid the snares of the evil one. And finally, it requires your ultimate commitment, maybe even your life. God requires all … or at least your willingness to give your all.
Some Christians will become generals in this army. Some will hit the front lines while still others will support those who do battle. Others will be planners, teachers, strategists, or administrators. Know this, though — ALL will go in harm’s way to do the work required. Sometimes we’ll fail, but God will pick us up and dust us off. He may take us home to Heaven, or He may just send us right back out to fight again. It’s His choice. He’s the commander. It is our mission – The Great Commission – our marching orders.
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even until the nd of the age.” ~ Matthew 28: 19-20
As the Marines would say, “HOOOO-AAHHH!”
If the Marines will accept nothing less than your best, why do you think God would?