Love In War
My brother joined the LA National Guard just months after his high school graduation. He graduated from boot camp and was only home for 2 days when he received the news that he was going to Iraq. His orders were to report to Ft. Hood in Texas where he would begin training with the rest of his unit. He would then go to Ft. Irwin for additional training before he deployed. He would be serving a one year tour in Baghdad.
My brother gave His life to the Lord at the tender age of 12. He began faithfully seeking God and attending church with us. Then, at a weekend retreat, he had a very bad experience. He never stopped loving God or seeking Him but he didn’t want to go to church anymore either. We never stopped praying for Him and he never stopped seeing the hand of God in things. One of the most profound events to take place in our lives happened while he was in uniform.
He called me to say “hi” and “I’m OK” but I heard something else in his voice. I knew something was weighing heavily on his mind and I began to question him. “How was your day?” I asked, only to hear him reply with “fine”. I knew he wasn't telling me everything so I asked how he was feeling. Again he said that he was fine. I then tried one more time. “Did anything interesting happen today?”
There was silence. The only noise I heard was the static caused by the bad connection. I urged him to speak with an ever enticing “hmmm?”
“Well,” he said, “I don’t exactly know how to explain it.”
“Just tell me what happened” I pleaded.
“Well, today we were in a gun fight and my battle buddy starting making some bad moves. I motioned for him to change position and get out of the line of fire. The dude didn’t budge. I started yelling at him. I saw him trying to shoot but he had the safety on and nothing was happening. He wouldn't keep his head down, he didn't go for another weapon, and he wouldn't listen to me! They were moving in on us and I knew what was about to happen but he wouldn’t listen. I kept yelling at him but he wouldn’t listen!”
“Awe gosh sweetie, I’m so sorry. What happened to him?” I questioned.
“Well he got killed. I didn’t protect him. It was my job to keep him alive and I didn’t! I was too busy pointing out what he was doing wrong. Now I have to write a letter to his parents explaining why their son is dead. It’s my fault, how am I supposed to explain this to them?”
I could hear the hurt and panic in his voice. I wasn’t really prepared when I heard this so honestly I had no idea what to say. I wanted to comfort him but all I could do is buy time till I thought of something appropriate to say. So I asked him why he thought it was his fault. His reply was like a word from God.
In a distraught tone of voice he answered, “It’s my fault because instead of protecting my brother I was pointing the finger at him. I should have just shot the enemy myself instead of yelling at him to do it. I was in range. I had the authority to do it but I didn’t. I just kept pushing him to do it. He was in a vulnerable situation. He was confused and unsure of himself and I made it worse by what I did. I should have just shot the enemy and talked to him about his mistakes after the fact. But nooooo, I was too busy being Mr. Know It All.”
That is what he said. But you know how God is… here is what I heard:
We should never point fingers at our brothers and sisters when they are in a weak frame of mind. We must lift them up, protect them, intercede for them, and rebuke the enemy on their behalf. When they are stronger, then we can discuss how they could have better handled the situation. We are in this together. We are to be united in the body of Christ. When one falls we must lift him up. I don’t ever want to have to explain to God why one of his children fell away and all I did was continued to point the finger at him. We must choose not to be self righteous.
“Hello?” he said. “Uh, are you still there?”
“I’m sorry. Yes, I’m here.” I replied in an almost confused sort of way.
“What’s wrong? You know it was just a training exercise. He didn’t really die. I mean, I really do have to write a letter to his parents as part of the exercise and that more than anything has me thinking. Only the Sgt. will read it but it just really bothers me because it could have been real. It could have really happened. I don’t want to be that way in an actual war zone. I never want to have to explain that to someone's father, you know?”
“Yes. Yes, I know. I just really got a revelation from God from what you told me. It was quite the eye opener.”
I explained it to him and he too received the revelation immediately. It’s a good thing we did too. He carried this with him to Iraq. His unit prayed before every mission. His team was just that… a team. They stood together. They prayed together. They watched each other’s back. They all came home alive.
Months later I too had this revelation brought back to memory at a time when I needed it most. A friend of mine was in a tough situation. He had fingers pointed at him in all directions. What he was being accused of was something that I wholeheartedly detested but I remembered what God showed me. I prayed for my friend and stood by him when others cast him out of their lives and out of their church. I fought the enemy on his behalf. I loved him and stood by him when his own family wouldn’t. Today God is using him in a mighty way to reach the lost and hurting.
This world is not perfect now and it never will be. People will make mistakes. We are all in this together. We are the body of Christ. We can’t expect others to meet expectations that we can’t meet ourselves. In order to conquer the enemy for the sake of the people we must fight the war with love, selflessness, and integrity.
I'd love for you to visit me at my personal blog: In Pursuit of Proverbs 31