I think back to a time long ago when I reported to the military; just a young kid fresh out of high school. In the folly of youth, I convinced myself I was going to be a career soldier, live a life of adventure—filled with tales of heroic actions and daring escapades. But alas, like most dreams of youth, reality set in and I put away those childish thoughts.
Two hours after reciting my oath to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States of America, I was on my way to Fort Jackson, South Carolina for in-processing. I found my new adventure in life filled with rules, regulations, and a strict training doctrine. Their time-tested approach was a proven method of transforming a diverse group of young men into a cohesive unit who effectively performed assigned tasks. A few days later, I found myself on a bus headed for Fort Benning, home of the U.S. Army’s School of Infantry. It was also home for Airborne, Ranger selection, and Sniper schools; I was going to be near Columbus, GA for a while.
What stood out for me most in those early days of military service was how effective the Army was at breaking down a group of raw recruits with such diversity. In little time, they united us and rebuilt us into a disciplined, focused group of soldiers. We learned to work together toward a common goal (mostly dislike of our drill instructors). In forming our training squad, platoon, company, and battalion, I met other young men from all over the United States. Each of us had different reasons for serving, expectations, and goals.
Some were simple “country boys” like me who came from small towns all across the nation. Others had the sophistication and street smarts of the big cities. Most were volunteers, but they gave a few the option of either serving jail time or their country. Like any organization, there were schemers who wanted only to work the system and avoid any actual activity; there were a few “gung ho” young men with chips on their shoulders who thought they were God’s gift to heroism. The Army soon knocked them off.
While some seemed to have lived a comfortable life, others were hardscrabble and had worked for everything they earned. Last, there were a few who just tried to keep our heads down, mouths shut, learn well, and become effective soldiers. We came together in the coming weeks, learning to depend on one another and work together to accomplish our tasks.
After reaching my permanent duty station on the other side of Georgia, I developed strong bonds with my fellow soldiers. The more experienced operators took the new guys under their wings and taught them the endless number of things you can’t learn from books. Those men realized that when they engage the enemy, their lives depended on those youngsters knowing what to do. In time, we became a Band of Brothers as we ate, trained, prayed, laughed, fought, played, and cried together. Some, I’ve forgotten to the ages. Others, I hold in the highest esteem to this day.
Much older now, I understand how similar my life as a soldier was to how my life as a Christian is today. Grateful that God saved me before becoming a soldier, I recognize, almost four decades later, how my time as a soldier prepared me for my lifetime enlistment in God’s army. As a member of the body of Christ, I am honor-bound to contribute the gifts and talents God has given me in His service. When combining my gifts with others, we execute the mission of spreading Christ’s gospel together. In both cases, I learned that it isn’t about me, but those willing to stand with me.Both soldiers and Christians understand the sacrifice required to achieve their objectives. Click To Tweet
In the military, I used the skills they taught me to:
- Become a highly effective marksman,
- Interpret foreign languages,
- Skillfully navigate through hostile terrain, and
- Instruct others in the tradecraft of being a soldier.
In God’s army, I use the skills He’s taught me to:
- Keep focus on the target,
- Interpret different languages (today’s youth speaks a different language than I grew up using),
- Navigate safely through the hostile environment of this world, and
- Instruct those who will come after me in the ways of our Lord.
Some of you may think being a soldier and being a Christian is not so different after all; good for you. Whether soldier or Christian, our job is to stay focused on the mission and work as a team to execute it. The Apostle Paul explained it best in his words to Timothy, “No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please Him who enlisted him as a soldier.” (2 Timothy 2:4, NKJV).
On this Veteran’s Day, I ask each of you to send up prayers for our veterans, current service members, future vets, and their families. Each one deserves your respect, support, and gratitude. I close with the words Mr. Charles M. Province, a US Army veteran, wrote in this poem.
IT IS THE SOLDIER
It is the Soldier, not the minister
Who has given us freedom of religion.
It is the Soldier, not the reporter
Who has given us freedom of press.
It is the Soldier, not the poet
Who has given us freedom of speech.
It is the Soldier, not the campus organizer
Who has given us freedom to protest.
It is the Soldier, not the lawyer
Who has given us the right to a fair trial.
It is the Soldier, not the politician
Who has given us the right to vote.
It is the Soldier who salutes the flag,
Who serves beneath the flag,
And whose coffin is draped by the flag,
Who allows the protester to burn the flag.
-Charles M. Province, ©Copyright 1970, 2005 by Charles M. Province
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44 thoughts on “A Faithful Band”
Thank you for your service, J. D. And for this analogy so well made between serving our country and serving our God. Shared on Twitter and Facebook 🙂
Thank you Ms. Jeanne; much appreciated ma’am. Glad you enjoyed; and thank you for sharing.
How I love this poem you’ve shared here, J. D., as it’s absolutely true! Yes, I will be praying for our brave men and women in the military today and every day. Thank you for sharing your story of life as a soldier, and how much it reflects our being in Christ’s army.
Thank you Ms. Martha Jane. I love serving alongside praying Christian folks like you and Mr. Danny ma’am.
J.D., your account of military days and service moved me. From your words to the poem to the analogy of God’s infantry, I’m honored to know you and thank you for your service to our country and how you serve well our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
I pray I’m a much better soldier for Christ these days than I was when I wore the uniform of our nation. I pray too I make more of a difference.
This is such a moving post. I’m so grateful for your service to our nation, but even more thankful for your service to our King. Thank you for your servant’s heart and desire to honor God. May we all seek the spiritual disciplines and training to be effective in the army of God’s Kingdom.
I’m proud as a peacock to be standing alongside you in prayer Pastor Joshua. Thank you sir; and God’s blessings.
Thank you, JD, for this beautiful post, and thank you for your sacrificial service, my friend–then and now. I just finished leading a Bible study on 2 Timothy. Wow! How Paul’s words to his young ”son” foreshadow today’s events. Your inspirational words remind me it is not a solitary journey…our effectiveness lies in our connectedness. I’m so thankful God saw fit to connect me with you during our brief enlistment on this earth. Serving with you is a pleasure, kind friend. Blessings!
The honor and pleasure is mine ma’am. Am grateful to stand with you in God’s army.
J.D., thank you for your service to protect the USA. Thank you for sharing your love for God. I am thankful for all who have served, are serving and those who will serve. My Daddy served in the military. We have many relatives who have served. Thank you for sharing the poem. God bless you dear friend.
Having a family of servants comes as no surprise at all to me ma’am. All one has to do is to look at the devoted, wonderful Christian friend you are to see the legacy of Christian love your family poured into you ma’am. It’s that same love I see you pouring out to others each day.
I am also a veteran and a Christian. I found your comparison of being a soldier, sailor, or airman to being a Christian to be spot on. I believe discipleship, training, and practice is essential in either endeavor. Thank you for your service, in the military, and in God’s army.
Thank you; and thank you for your service Mr. Craig. Blessed and honored sir. God’s continued blessings sir; and thank you for commenting.
Thank you for your service J.D. and I do lift a prayer for all those who have served, including my father and father in law, and all who serve to this day. God bless you and them all. That poem is perfect.
I join you in those prayers Ms. Ann; and thank you very much for your kind words ma’am. God’s blessings.
Thank you for your service to our wonderful country.
Coming from a family of men who served our country all I can say is “Onward Christian Soldiers God bless you all.
Thank you Ms. Joyce. Learning about your family’s history from Ms. Jan included many talks about your family’s service. America is truly blessed to have the Baumler family in it. God’s blessings gentle lady.
Thank you for your military service and service to the LORD. Thank you for the poignant blog today, which appropriately honors both. Thanks for blessing others and me with your gift of writing.
Such kind words. Thank you Ms. Linda; and please pass along my thanks to Mr. Butch for his service to both our nation and our Lord. I missed our not being able to gather this year for the salute to veterans our school children do. That always made my service worthwhile. God’s blessings sweet friend.
Thank you for your service, J.D. I am so thankful our country has a strong military and has had led the world in standing for freedom and helping those who couldn’t help themselves. God bless you and God bless America!
I join with you in your appreciation for our strong military. I add to it my prayers that our nation will continue to stand as a beacon of hope for the world. But God my friend.
Thank you for your service and for drawing out these critical points of the Christian life in such a vivid and personal way. I was touched by your words.
Awww.. Thank you so much Ms. Marilyn. If I remember correctly, your Mr. Randy served our nation also didn’t he ma’am. Thank you so much for commenting ma’am; you always make our conversations better. God’s blessings gentle friend.
J.D., thank you for serving our country, beginning in my home state. What an effective parallel you draw comparing a soldier’s training to our walk with God. I’m sure if my dad, a WWII veteran, were here today to read your post, his eyes would fill with tears of gratitude. He taught me to love God and the United States of America. Your bullet points for service in God’s army are good reminders. Thank you, my friend.
Am humbled by your words Ms. Jeannie. Thank you so much ma’am. What an honor it will be to one day meet your mom and dad on heaven’s shores.
Absolutely sir. In one service or the other, you need all the protection you can get; the battle is fierce!
Those in bootcamp who were unwilling to comply met with severe consequences. They were the recipients of “special” treatment.
God has a way of bending the hardened hearts of sinners as well. Some are saved of love and others of fear. I was one who was saved of fear, fear of everlasting punishment separated from God.
Thank you for your service and thank you for this great wrinting.
Absolutely Pastor Paul. Not sure if you’re old enough to remember “the dying cockroach” or not; or “the Mickey Mouse Scrub Club.” Not sure if it was fear that drove me to the altar, or conviction, but am sure glad of the results. For many years I claimed it was a pretty little redheaded girl, but she was just the conduit to get me where He wanted me. God took over from there. I thank you for your service also sir.
I signed up after 4-years of college and was scheduled to go into the Veterinarian MO back in 1986. Shortly after I did, I was hired by Maryland Department of Agriculture. I came as close as you can come to being in “this man’s Army.” But they didn’t have me until they “had me.” God opened the door to what I truly wanted and spent the next 32-years in service to the farmers in my region. I’m glad I did.
I salute you and the others like my dad, who served. May God truly bless the USA and those the defend her!
It never fails to amaze me how God places us where He wants us, not where “we wants us.” Although I know you would have been a welcome addition to this man’s Army sir. Honored to serve beside you in God’s. Thank you so much for commenting sir.
How very timely is your post — in more ways than one. Love the poem!
I’m so glad you enjoyed Ms. Candyce. Always appreciate the kind words of encouragement ma’am. I like that poem a lot also.
Thank you for your service, J.D. Great post and lesson. We are all soldiers in God’s army.
Thank you Ms. Stephanie. I pray God’s help in enlisting many more in His army. Not that He needs us, but He wants us; and we NEED to serve and worship Him.
Bless you, J.D., for your service in our country’s army as well as in God’s army. I put on my full spiritual armor daily and join in the fight against the enemy. May we savor the victory in Christ as we go into battle!
Yes ma’am; while we may have many spiritual battles to fight yet, it’s comforting to know the war has already been won by our Lord and Savior. Fight on Christian Soldier! 😀
When my dad became older, he began to attend reunions of the 30th Division (his placement in WWII. It wasn’t until I drove him to some of these gatherings that I gained a better understanding of what it means to be a part of a “Band of Brothers.” These men and women have a bond like no other. I agree, so many of the skills learned by soldiers carry us forward as active Christians. It’s just that some of us need more training (and motivation) to be on active duty. Thank you, my friend.
Thank you Ms. Katherine. If I’ve learned nothing else in this life, it is that as a soldier, be that in the military or as a Christian, we must always be training, learning, and growing in our skills and knowledge ma’am. And if we’re among the lucky few, we pick up some godly wisdom along the way. God’s blessings ma’am.
There is loyalty within common bonds, shared suffering, and held beliefs. I am ever so thankful we have a mighty military to protect and serve our country and its citizens. And I am embarrassed and mortified by the action of those same citizens that abuse the privileges granted to them. Surely there is disbelief and sadness amongst soldiers towards them yet they persevere. God must have some of the same feelings amongst those who abuse His protection and privileges, too, yet He still loves.
I don’t dwell on them, but do think of times when I have failed God (or come up wanting) in my journey in faith my friend. I reflect upon them, ask God’s help to grow stronger in my faith, and take the next step. Like a soldier on a long force march, the key to success is moving forward. I’m so glad I have dear friends like you to cheer me along the journey. I pray each day for God to bring me someone whom I can help to encourage like you do ma’am. God’s blessings.
As Christians, we serve together. One of our church’s core values is “Saved people serve people.” We stay focused on the mission God has placed before us.
So very true Ms. LuAnn. We are indeed in this together aren’t we ma’am. God’s blessings ma’am.