I remember one of my late daughters favorite songs. It was a song she learned in church filled with hand and body symbols and motions. The lyrics go like this.
I may never march in the infantry
Ride in the cavalry
Shoot the artillery
I may never fly o’er the enemy
But I’m in the Lord’s army!
Growing up I had a friend named Lloyd. Lloyd was always loud, always arguing, always making his presence felt. He was a big pimply faced kid that was my friend but he also dominated our friendship with his aggressive attitude. Lloyd was always trying to find humor in situations. It seems he was always arguing or laughing his loud laugh. His emotions went from one extreme to the other. At the age of 17 Lloyd enlisted in the Coast Guard. I didn’t see Lloyd for quite awhile. Occasionally I would get a letter as he was stationed in different places. Two or three years later he came home for a visit. I couldn’t believe the change in this kid. Well he was a kid going in but now his attitude was completely different. He had respect for others I had never seen before. He was less boisterous and seemed like a totally different person. It was like my childhood friend had suddenly became a man. The change was so glaring that I had a hard time adjusting to it. Lloyd let me know that there was no choice. The Coast Guard was serious business and there was no room for child like behavior.
In 1941 a movie came out called “Your In The Army Now”. It starred Jimmy Durante and Phil Silvers and it was a comedy. Hollywood has a way of making funny movies about the military. In this film Durante and Silvers were vacuum cleaner salesmen who were trying to sell a vacuum to a army recruiter and ended up accidentally getting enlisted in the army. Well of course the mishaps and laughing moments follow. Another movie in the 1980’s called Stripes also glamorized the army existence. Two recruits played by Bill Murray and Harold Ramos were the center of the episodes. They were oddballs who eventually became heroes because of it. This fun look at the army makes a good escape from the reality of what it is really like to serve our country.
From the moment someone signs up for the military they are signing up for something bigger than themselves. You literally give up your own life to the service and a bigger cause. You become a part of a team defending something that is very dear to you. You are not going in as someone that is going to change the system like in the movies. You are one of many and you are required to obey orders. The tasks may seem tedious and boring but you obey orders because that is your job. You don’t have a choice in orders to obey and orders to dismiss. You are to obey every order and if you don’t there will be punishment for what you didn’t. You are under a strict schedule. From early in the morning until late in the afternoon at anytime you need to be exactly where the schedule has you. The only time you can be away is when you earn leave time. This is a process of getting the official paperwork processed. Leaving without a pass will result in a soldier being AWOL (away without a leave) and severe punishment will be evoked.
Basic training is a place that new recruits are first assigned. In basic training you learn to take orders. You learn to respect the commanding officers and to do exactly what they tell you to do. If even one command is not done the commanding officer will report you to higher authorities. Punishment follows and it can be severe. You grow up fast in the service. You learn that you are not the center of the world. You learn that there is a much bigger cause than you. You do tedious jobs but you learn to do them well. Sooner or later you are trusted with bigger jobs and it is the attention to details of the smaller ones that gains trust with your commanders.
The Bible talks about being a good soldier. 2 Timothy 2:4 states that “No soldier in active service entangles himself with the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier.” When in the service the soldiers cannot have their minds on a hundred other things and still do their jobs. They need to concentrate on the orders at hand and do them to the best of their abilities. A soldier is pushed to the limit and when they come out of it they are better.
As Christians we are in the Lord’s Army! We are representing something bigger than ourselves. We are not going to change the whole system to glorify us like in the movies. Our job is to follow commands and walk in the footprints of our commander! If there were explosives and land mines all over the ground we had to cover and our commander had made it to the other side how closely would we walk in his footprints? Would we be satisfied to miss one here and there? We know we wouldn’t because of the hazardous effects it could bring. Jesus has crossed the mine field. He has left his footprints on the path to take.
When we are truly in the Lord’s Army there is a noticeable change in us. No longer are we the immature Christians that let their emotions control them. Like my friend Lloyd’s change a transformation takes place as we submit to a different commander. It makes such a contrast that people immediately notice. That transformation draws admiration because we have a purpose and it shows!
When my daughter sang that song the last words and the ones she enjoyed the most was a salute as she shouted “Yes Sir!” The Army talks about being all you can be. In many ways the Army gives the opportunity to do just that. Yet without God you can never truly be all that you can be. You see God made all of us for a purpose. It is a part in the Army of God! There is something each of us can do to advance the cause! By learning to listen and surrender to his voice we learn to walk in his footprints. We don’t do it grudgingly we do it thankfully. We do it with a servants heart and we do it out of love. Whatever God wants us to do we should be willing to do it. Our attitude needs to be “Lord thank you for letting me be in your army! Just give me the command Lord and I’ll do it! Yes Sir!”