Thursday, January 20, 2011

Getting out of the Front Lines, to Come Back for More!

Psalms 144:1 Blessed is the Lord, my Rock, who Trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle.

Richard Winters: That night, I thanked God for seeing me through that day of days and prayed I would make it through D plus 1. I also promised that if some way I could get home again, I would find a nice peaceful town and spend the rest of my life in peace. - Band of Brothers

In my time in Cambodia with HPC(Hard Places Community) and Pastor Rob and his family, came a critical, humbling, and hard reality. I am burned out. I can not serve healthy at this point anymore. Worn out from battling against evil spirits. Because against flesh and blood is not the kind of battling I have been in. Against temptation, anger, loneliness, pride, selfishness, depression, hopelessness, and emptiness. I must have watched 15 war movies in my time in Cambodia. (Don't worry I read five whole books as well.) Their was something inside that was hungry for that imagery. I mostly watched the highly acclaimed World War II miniseries, Band of Brothers. It is based on the book, which are true accounts of the 101st Airborne Division of the United States Army.(" The division suffered 1,766 Killed In Action; 6,388 Wounded In Action; and 324 Died of Wounds during World War II." - Wikipedia) 
Those men have my respect for the rest of my life. Most men who survived after D-Day and beyond never wanted to leave their brothers in battle. Even when they were injured and shot, they would rush back into battle. Why I mentioned this is because I feel I've battled long enough and need to heal my wounds, be retrained, re-energized,  to be deployed back out fit for war. So by the end of the next month I am hoping to reach the States for a few months of "peace." I will be going through some training, processing, planing, education, support raising, and just being with people I love.

2nd Lt. George Rice: Looks like you guys are going to be surrounded. 
Richard Winters: We're paratroopers, Lieutenant. We're supposed to be surrounded. 

If your a pacifist your probably not enjoying all the war metaphors. But I am only lifting up my JEHOVAH-NISSI my banner in battle so that JEHOVAH-SABAOTH who is leading his Army, is glorified. But honestly looking at our lives in Christ, pictured in a war setting helps me to focus on the gospel and our role as the church. If you were out in battle knowing someone is out to kill you would you lose focus? Maybe if your scared. Armies are disciplined well run units on a mission. They have counted the cost. You have probably heard a sermon or two using this imagery. I have heard it more used with men. Is there a reason? Of course, we are at war. God is war like. Please don't stone me yet. Part of his character is war like. The last battle is not gonna be a tickle contest. One of his names is, the Lord of Armies! God will one day destroy his enemies, and so for the time being we are in the battles that are leading up to the final one, to end all wars. It helps to keep me sharp.  But over the last 6 months my guard has been down. I have slipped in some areas. I began lashing out on the same people I came to love on. It's like I have been stuck alone in a bunker out of ammo, fighting a rushing enemy from all sides. I have been hit and I can only lick up my wounds for so long. I thought in my pridefulness, that if I can tough it out I would survive and be great for God. How can I do that if I am not even listening to God or loving God? I need my squad. I need to be pulled out no matter how much I think I can take.

Richard Winters: How'd it go? The drop?
Cpt. Nixon: We took a direct hit over the drop zone. I got out, two others got out.
Richard Winters: And the rest of the boys?
Cpt. Nixon: Oh, they blew up in Germany somewhere... Boom.

 So coming to my second year serving in Thailand I had been running into, culture shock, stress, feelings of depression, and having no guidance. I have people here. Good friends who love Jesus. But it's like when the Troopers landed on D-Day, a lot of soldiers were dropped in the wrong drop zone. Some got completely lost. Some died on the way down under heavy fire. This is the way I have felt. Alone with no squad of my own. I wanted to find my commanding officer. But I was stuck. Many times looking for someone who understood me and could give me some encouragement. Being the crazy soldier for Christ I am I trusted in the Lord of Lords to guide me. God has been more than good. He has carried me through. I have learned another language. He has allowed me to tell others of his name. I have never gone hungry and always a place to sleep. Things have been real rough at times, but I didn't sign up for Disney Land!

Ronald Speirs: We're all scared. You hid in that ditch because you think there's still hope. But Blithe, the only hope you have is to accept the fact that you're already dead. And the sooner you accept that, the sooner you'll be able to function as a soldier is supposed to function. Without mercy. Without compassion. Without remorse. All war depends upon it.

When we take risk things will happen. I have always thought that one does not know they are in a battle unless they step up to the line. That's when the enemy sees you. It's like the light on a lamp post deal Jesus talks about. They fire at you because of a threat to what they are trying to accomplish. You have declared your self in battle. Now some of us might not like to fire back. That's ok. I try to, respect true pacifist. Maybe your the medic on hand. Maybe your the communications man ready to call in the heavy guns.
The difference is that some choose to do that from the safety of their homes, or their church building. Now that I can not agree with. John Piper says it nicely,"If we walk away from risk to keep ourselves safe and solvent, we will waste our lives." In my view it's the equivalent to those barking CO's ready to chew down a lower ranking soldier to some how justify his rank, but never having ever been to battle himself. I didn't plan on being out here alone. I took the risk. God called me out. I forgot what life could've been in America. That life was dead. I was dead. Excuses are for civilians. Pain is just weakness leaving the body. Fear is just a word.

Richard Winters: These men have been through the toughest training the Army has to offer, under the worst possible circumstances, and they volunteered for it.
Richard Winters: You know why they volunteered? Because they knew that the man in the foxhole next to them would be the best, not some draftee who's going to get them killed.

God knows the plans he has set before me. And so I trust in this next phase of my life. Still I have the desire to come back and share God's gospel with his love. But I want to and need to be at my best. Emotionally healthy, physically fit, spiritually sharp and Lord, willing healed and spirit filled. I respect real men who have died for just causes on the front lines. It takes heart to go, courage to stand, and strength to get up.

Mike Ranney: "Grandpa, were you a hero in the war?" Grandpa said, "No... but I served in a company of heroes".

"The military is the Maginot line in the battle of the sexes, the final remaining bastion of institutionalized masculinity and the last place left in the civilized world where characteristically male traits - aggression, risk taking, courage, and strength - are respected and valued." - Kathleen Parker, from her book "Save the Males"
2Ti 2:3Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.

1 comment:

  1. Praise the LORD! Yes brother, YES! You need some rest...this is great news and I'm glad to hear it! I know having served beside you in S.Africa how hard you fight and what an awesome, strong leader you are. I also know that you go further than most people ever could - you give more, fight harder, sacrifice more, challenge yourself more, the list goes on...and you need to REST and be filled up so that you can pour out again.

    Can't wait to catch up with you tomorrow and hear more. So proud to have you as a friend! Love you bro!