Saturday, January 30, 2010

The REAL Battle

For our character studies lately, we’ve been reading a book called Lone Survivor, the Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of Navy SEAL Team 10, by Marcus Lutrell (we edited out the cuss words!). I figured a book detailing the training and conditioning of a Navy SEAL would be a good study in the character quality self-control, and I was right. As we’ve been reading of Marcus’ training, we’ve all been encouraged to “do the right thing,” or “git ‘er done,” no matter how hard it seems.

These guys had to do almost superhuman feats just to survive the first few hours of training. To me, it seems incredible that a person could do at least 450 push-ups and run four miles in less than thirty-two minutes! (I can run two miles, but it takes me about twenty-three minutes! These are men, though, and my husband likes to remind me that they are a little younger than I am…) Right before their training, the men were told, “You must make that four-mile thirty-two-minute run, and you must make the two-mile swims in an hour and a half. You’ll get a tough written test. There’s pool standards, there’s drownproofing. With and without the fins — kick, stroke, and glide.” Standards were strict and the training was tough, because they knew that their lives and the lives of their buddies depended on it.

One quote from the book got me thinking.

Sometimes as Christian wives and mothers, we think we’ve got the raw deal. The old saying goes, “A man will work from sun to sun, but a woman’s work is never done.” (Recently I told my husband that, since the advent of computers, he works round the clock! But that’s beside the point…) It is the never-ending round of laundry, meals, dishes, and of course wiping runny noses, changing dirty diapers, and reading The Taxi that Hurried for the five thousand, four hundred and eighty-third time. It’s a tiring, sometimes exhausting job.

God, however, in His infinite love and mercy, gives us the strength to do His Will. Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” It’s truly a matter of us appropriating the strength He’s made available through grace. And someone’s eternity may depend on it.

One of the SEAL instructors told the men: “…the real battle is won in the mind. It’s won by guys who understand their areas of weakness, who sit and think about it, plotting and planning to improve. Attending to the detail. Work on their weaknesses and overcome them. Because they can.”

I must say that there is something about military training that pushes people to, and beyond, their limit, and that’s a good thing. We seem to have in our minds that, “Oh, I just couldn’t be a missionary,” or, “Oh, I couldn’t have a large family,” or, “I couldn’t teach a Sunday School class.” Sometimes we even think, “I don’t think I can make it through another day, I’m so worn.” We sell ourselves far too short for what we really could do, if only we availed ourselves of the strength given us by our Lord.

Navy SEALs become convinced that they could do anything, if they just put their minds to it, and by and large, they can do just about that. It’s stuck in the heads. They do what they are told, no matter how impossible it may seem, because they know it really IS possible. Their commanders would never send them into a volatile situation assuming defeat.

I remember a time when my husband was talking to a Marine who was fresh out of Basic Training. With a bit of a grin, he asked him, “If your drill instructor had told you that tomorrow you were going to charge Hell with water pistols, what would you have done?” The young Marine got very serious, and replied evenly, “We would have done it…and we’d have taken it, too!” It is the spirit of the military. It needs to be our spirit, as well.

We are given a job to do by God. He does not give us a job that we cannot do, He gives us only what we can do. “But God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able, but will, with the temptation, also make a way of escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” (1 Cor 10:13) And, “I can do all things, through Christ, which strengtheneth me.” (Phil. 4:13) He strengthens us, and comes into the yoke with us, giving us the supernatural ability to tackle to tough tasks. “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me, and ye shall find rest unto your souls, for my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Whatever we are given to do, we are able to do, with The Lord’s help. The main battle is in the mind.

“…the real battle is won in the mind. It’s won by guys who understand their
areas of weakness, who sit and think about it, plotting and planning to improve.
Attending to the detail. Work on their weaknesses and overcome them. Because
they can.”

Don’t sell yourself short. Has God called you to be a godly, loving wife? You can be! Has God called you to be a gentle, consistent mother? You can be! Has God called you to be a daughter who is ever learning to be what God wants you to be? You can! The battle is in your mind.

Through God, you can win that battle.

Someone’s eternity may be at stake.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Never Leave a Wounded Soldier

I was talking to a lady a few weeks back who must have been soaked in Hollywood somehow, because the question she asked me showed such a complete deficiency of understanding of our nation’s military. “Isn’t it true,” she asked, “that the military brainwashes its soldiers, takes away their personality, and makes them feel like they are nothing more than a number that goes around killing people?”

I tried hard to mask my mixture of irritation and amusement. I explained to her that we know many soldiers and their families personally, and they are the finest and kindest people you would ever know. A soldier, though he is trained in the use of firearms, will rarely use one, and then only when absolutely necessary. “I think one of the most remarkable qualities about our military, however,” I went on, “is how they take care of each other. If one of them gets wounded, they will never leave them. They will risk everything to take care of that wounded soldier and bring him back home to get the care he needs.” I gave her the many examples I knew of personally, and also reminded her of the honor the military bestows upon its fallen heroes. My recent trip to Arlington National Cemetery was a fine example of the reverence any military family pays to its deceased.

Never leave a wounded soldier. This is drilled into our military from day one. It has saved the lives of many on the battlefield, and more than one soldier has been grateful for the heroic actions of someone brave enough to go into the line of fire to retrieve one who has fallen. Few nations compare to that of America when it comes to caring for its wounded.

Never leave a wounded soldier.

All of us go through trials and troubles. How much more do we need our brothers and sisters in Christ during those dark times than others. Yet it is often those very times when we are abandoned by those who are supposed to stand by us.

Christians, especially we Baptists, are noted for shooting our wounded. After all, isn't it much easier to go up to a flickering lamp and blow it out than it is to give of our own oil that they may shine more brightly? Many people think that talking negatively about a brother and putting him down makes them look more spiritual. But I can tell you, it is an awful, selfish, and uncaring person who allows a wounded fellow Christian to shrivel up and die when we could do something to be an encouragement. Personally, I realize that my behavior is not stellar when I am going through trials, and I am so thankful for those who stand by me, though I am hurting. Shame on us if we leave a wounded soldier!

Never leave a wounded soldier. May it always be said that we will stand by those who are trying to do their best to live for God, even if they are wounded. Someday we will need someone to stand by us!

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