Monday, April 07, 2008

Endure Hardship with Us

Tomorrow, I leave for the Joni and Friends (JAF) Wounded Warrior Retreat. The invitation to participate came just as I left for India before much information had been released to the JAF corporate office (i.e. how many soldiers, children etc…). I wholeheartedly agreed and was genuinely honored to be considered for “duty”. When I returned and spoke with the Director, I realized the time and physical commitment was much more than I signed up for (after all, I just returned from a battlefield halfway around the world).

War is War, and the battle for eternity is not over yet! This is a fight there is no retreating from. The General we answer to assured me He would provide the strength and support necessary for me to complete the mission. I understand these wounded young men and women (some as young as 19), returned having left a great part of themselves on the battlefield. But they willingly signed up – knowing the cost could be their lives, their future, and their hope. Many came home from the battlefield paralyzed, severely burned, missing arms, legs, sight and hearing. They sacrificed for freedom.

It is sobering, and humbling to grasp the courage and strength they have on a human level. Our prayer is through the speakers, the attention and care they are shown these next few days, their hearts will be healed on a spiritual level and grasp how great is the love God has for them. We pray they will come to see a new future, a new hope, and understand the sacrifice of One who died to set them free.

I never understood the purpose of “Boot Camp.” It always seemed cruel and unusual punishment of youth volunteering for the dangerous position of defending freedom. However, when I had the privilege to talk with a soldier enlisted in the army and ask the reason for all the shouting, yelling and what I thought was “cruel” treatment, he explained quite simply, “We are preparing them for war, not a picnic.”

As soldiers prepare to leave for the battlefield, the reality must seem a distant danger as they hold hope high; to defend with honor and return home to the ones they love. My friends may tire of my “battlefield” analogies when speaking of faith and endurance and getting ready to go “again”, I catch myself saying, “This is war” many times. I have endured hardship, and troubles, attacks, as well as seeing a friend “wounded” in action. All these “war” times, my heart and spirit tell me have been in preparation for my next “Tour of Duty”, to serve the real soldiers home from a very real war.

We live in perilous times, but we serve a Mighty King! Join with us in support as we serve the soldiers who willingly defend our nation.