I began writing this story on Memorial Day and it is the direct result of my reading portions of two books this past weekend. The first book was The Bible. I was taking one of my hikes around our subdivision and I read as I walked. Specifically, I was reading from The Book of Jeremiah.
The second book I was reading from that day was The Magic Man In The Sky by Carl Gallups (specifically Chapter 15 - The Meaning of Life). I was also inspired by the remembering, on that Memorial Day, the many U.S soldier that have died while protecting us from evil. First though, let's talk about Jeremiah.
Jeremiah had a pretty rough job. He was the bearer of bad news. God had called Jeremiah to be his prophet and instructed him to inform His people that he was going to punish them for their disobedience. Sounds like a fun job, right? God is NOT seeker sensitive!
Chapter 16 - "And I will declare my judgments against them (Israel & Judah), for all their evil in forsaking me. They have made offerings to other gods and worshiped the works of their own hands."
Basically, God's people had strayed from Him. They had turned their back on Him and were living for themselves. They had been worshiping other gods, building their own idols and doing as they pleased.
[Does that sound familiar at all? Does that sound . . . like us? We have turned OUR backs on God and have begun worshipping other gods, like money, drugs, power, sex, television . . . we are basically worshipping our selves]
Well, as you may have surmised by reading the Bible, God is a jealous God and He wanted them back. Just like so many times before, God planned to turn his disobedient children over to the hands of their enemies, to teach them a lesson and to punish them for their disobedience.
[Do you think that something like that is happening to us right now? Are we being turned over to the hands of our enemies? It sure seems like it lately. 9/11, the bombing in Boston, the British soldier being hacked to death]
Read this passage from Romans 1 and see if Paul doesn't seem to be describing present day society.
"24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.
26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.
28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. 29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Though they know God's righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them." - Romans 1:24-32
Yup. That's us. So now what? Is God going to turn us over to the hands of our enemies? Seen the news lately? There have been plenty of examples to choose from. But truthfully? As I said before, I think our biggest enemy is ourselves.
That's what I was thinking when I put down my Bible and began to read Chapter 15 of Magic Man In The Sky. The chapter began this way . . .
"What could be the purpose of life? Why ARE we here?" Gallups then says that the answer to those questions can be found in two verses from the Book of Ephesians.
"7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 8 which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight 9 making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth." - Ephesians 1:7-10
And then Mr. Gallups wrote this:
"In much the same way, a drill sergeant knows that a number of recruits will make it, and some will not. Therefore, he applies the pressure. He applies the teaching, the instruction, and the conditions of the new recruits life. Vigorous training ensues. While in boot camp, recruits will have superb days, wonderful memories formed, and solid experiences to be enjoyed. However, they will also endure tough times, trying times, and painful times, often unbearable. Yet the training marches on."
Then he wrote this, speaking of why we are here on this earth . . .
"What is the military trying to accomplish in the final analysis? Do they want all the recruits to be happy? Do the want them to feel satisfied and loved? Do they want every need met for each of the young recruits? NO, they want SOLDIERS. They want them prepared, equipped, trained, matured and ready.
Likewise, but with a much more eternal and glorious goal in mind, God . . . is conducting a boot camp."
As I was reading Gallups book, the Clint Eastwood movie Heartbreak Ridge was playing on television. The movie is about a drill sergeant, preparing his platoon for combat. The movie meshed perfectly with what I was reading.
If this life is really boot camp. If our purpose is to survive this world and become soldiers for Christ. Then I welcome the hardship. I welcome the trials and the time spent in the trenches. Because I know that my drill Sergeant is turning me into a soldier.
"11 But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 13 I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, 14 to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 which he will display at the proper time—he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16 who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen." - 1 Timothy 6:11-16
Today is high school graduation day in the town where I live. They have been through boot camp and now it is time to graduated and move into the real world. Hmm, I wonder how many of those recruits graduating today will become soldiers in the army of God?