Time For God: May 8

Written by Paul Beckingham

Focus: 2 Timothy 2:3-4
You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier.
Dan [name changed] works with young Army Cadets. Plastic surgery gives him opposing digits where his thumb used to be; it allows him to use his right hand.

I met Dan at a six-week Cadets’ summer camp in Canada. His faith is real and his demeanor gracious. He is a man of great patience. His injuries demand that he grants himself the gift of time. He extends the same gift to others. He has a winsome smile; he listens attentively. He knows what it means to fully depend on God.

Dan’s injuries cannot be hidden. Yet, he does not talk about them. He prefers to focus on how he can be of assistance to others. Over the course of two or three annual camps, we built bonds of faith and friendship. Trust opens conversation.

One sunny afternoon, he described a darker time in his life. On active duty, he served in the Corps of Engineers. He was tasked to move forward across open land. His commander ordered him into harm’s way. His duty that day was to defuse land mines. His injuries bear witness to what happened next. At camp, Dan supported many who struggled to make peace with their unique challenges.

Boot camp is tough. If you don’t think so, try it! It’s designed to take you beyond your breaking point. Sleep deprivation and intermittent meals create a form of battle stress. Workers in high-stress peacetime occupations experience it, too.

A peace-focused generation recognizes the unpopular challenges facing soldiers. They serve in harm’s way. Thanklessly, they shoulder pain and suffering. Good soldiers keep their focus; they move with purpose and real dedication. Soldiers on active duty shun other preoccupations; dangerous distractions cost lives.

Christian discipleship may not cause you to lose a limb but it can feel a lot like Boot Camp. The Gospel calls you to follow Christ. He leads you to the cross—yours as well as His. Jesus said, Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me (Matthew 16:24). Discipleship demands no distractions.

How is God calling you to deny yourself at this time of your life? How do you depend more on God as you take up your cross? How might your service bless others, today?
King of Heaven’s Armies, you are my shield in the fight of faith. May Your love be my defense as I share Your liberating truth. Send me where you need me today. Amen.
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