Wednesday, December 18, 2013


"Father, protect our servicemen and women standing post around the world, some in very dangerous places..."

This is a regular part of our corporate prayer Sunday mornings at Grace. The phrase "dangerous places" struck me anew this past week. Dangerous places...

My husband has served in combat. When his Marine unit shipped out to Saudi Arabia in fall of 1990, we were told to expect 80% casualties. We updated wills and powers-of-attorney and made plans for our men to not come home. Live fire, mine fields, air strikes...dangerous places.

When #3 son joined the Marine Corps Reserve last spring, he asked me if I had any concerns about his enlisting. I did. "Thomas," I answered, "I guess most moms would be worried that, as soon as you finish Basic Training, they'll send you to Afghanistan or some other hot zone, and you'll stand in very real danger of being killed. But I'm not so much worried about your dying - dying well is important, but it's really not too complicated...and then, we have eternity together on the other side. No, my biggest concern is: are you capable of living well?"

Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson once said:  "Captain, my religious belief teaches me to feel as safe in battle as in bed. God has fixed the time for my death. I do not concern myself about that, but to be always ready, no matter when it may overtake me...That is the way all men should live, and then all would be equally brave." (Spoken like a true Calvinist!) be always ready...that is the way all men should live...

To live well - that is a day in, day out, sometimes tedious, rarely heart-pounding endeavor.

We've all heard the expression: "There are no atheists in foxholes." When life and death are on the line, when faced with our own mortality, we are often gifted with extreme clarity of vision. A close call on the interstate, lying hooked up to monitors in a hospital bed...most of us have known terrifying moments when we stood on the brink of eternity, acutely conscious of the significance of the faith we have professed.

But today, warm and well-fed, going through my normal routine - work, school, laundry, Facebook, aerobics class, carpool, loading the dishwasher, bathing the kids, grocery shopping, etc. - today, my vision is not so clear. The demarcation between the holiness of the sovereign God of the universe and the wickedness of my sin is not so distinct. The necessity of relying completely on Christ for my righteousness, of being vigilant in guarding against temptation, of resisting complacency and apathy - today, in my "safe" little world, those things do not seem so pressing.

Crossing Jordan into eternity - that is but a small step. But walking this vale, sometimes for many years, before reaching the threshold of Glory - that is a great distance to cover. It is a difficult thing to live consistently in this world in a manner becoming the children of God. Too easy to think the real battle is far away, somewhere else. Easy to think a bullet or mortar round is more dangerous than the sin in my own heart.

Brothers and sisters, let us never forget: we all live in dangerous places, susceptible to sin and to attacks from our enemy. Let us be always mindful: our only security is Christ.

God, protect us in these dangerous places!

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