The symbol of Christianity is the cross, not a feather bed

It must be exhilarating to be a fresh recruit in the armed forces. I remember a schoolmate who joined the Kenya Armed Forces and the level of excitement it elicited. For us, it was a little envy dressed up in pleasantries. I also witnessed an intern lady who had worked with us for sometime join the Navy. The glimmer in her eyes and the glory in her smile spoke more than what all the books in the Congress Library can tell.

Actually, it is always an excitement to be recruited into an organization. The joy that comes with this kind of good news is beyond description.

Just a few days ago, the United States and her two traditional allies, Britain and France unleashed a volley of Tomahawk Cruise Missiles on Syria as a punishment for the use of chemical weapons on citizens. I wonder how it would sound if a fresh recruit was assigned the duty of flying the Royal Airforce Tornado that devastated Syria’s Chemical weapons infrastructure.

I believe new recruits arriving on a battlefield are likely to be pumped up and full of false sense of self-confidence. They can even start telling the veterans how to conduct affairs on the first day of battle. Probably a few would be willing to listen. But I also think that does not go on for long. In a real battleground, two hours are enough to bring out the true character of a soldier. The new guys’ false flare quickly melts giving way to fear and dread.

After this, the real baptism in fire follows. Have you ever been in a situation where the only move you can make is ‘forward biased’? Thus the soldier has either to fight or battle. If an escape was conceivable, then that would be a life-saving alternative, though not face-saving.  The shame that would follow is lifelong. Real baptism happens in actual combat. This is where the young soldier has to cut his/her teeth. This is where the young soldier develops survival skills that could not have been taught during training.

I can deduce that it is only after a considerable time in the battleground that a soldier can be regarded as battle-hardened. It is that time when a soldier has honed his/her skills and acquired survival instincts. Yeah, SURVIVAL INSTINCTS. These survival instincts or intuition helps them ‘smell’ where a rocket-propelled grenade will strike, where and when the enemy will attack. The developed instincts will also help the battle-hardened soldier know how to respond to a life-threatening situation.

A battle-hardened soldier is a system thinker. When one component of a whole system malfunction, he/she examines the whole system in order to make permanent ameliorations. On the contrary, a fresh recruit falls into the trap of knee-jack reactions: treating joint paints instead of malaria.

Fighting with grit and grace

“These are the nations the Lord left to test all those Israelites who had not experienced any of the wars in Canaan (he did this only to teach warfare to the descendants of the Israelites who had not had previous battle experience): the five rulers of the Philistines, all the Canaanites, the Sidonians, and the Hivites living in the Lebanon mountains from Mount Baal Hermon to Lebo Hamath. They were left to test the Israelites to see whether they would obey the Lord’s commands, which he had given their ancestors through Moses.”

Judges 3:1-4

Why would God let these troublesome nations exist when He knew very well they would present a serious threat to the nascent nation of Israel?

The above Scriptures give two reasons: to teach the Israelites warfare and test their hearts.

Perhaps God has allowed those enemies in your life for the same reason. He wants us to be battle-hardened. He wants us to be a people after His own heart. The ominous present and odorous future call for a sustained warfare, not in Meggido plains but in our hearts and minds. The daily dose of trouble is enough to produce an experienced soldier who speaks little but accomplishes much. If these enemies were to be eliminated instantaneously then we would have no opportunity to learn warfare. Much is learnt through experience than mere training.

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