Saturday, 9 July 2011
Part 1 Continued - The Warrior
Many are the nations that have armies. Great are the pictures and definitions of what it means to be a warrior. Most of those pictures and images conjured up in our minds are of men. We think of great men of valor and stamina. Powerful men – some skilled not only physically, but mentally as well in the art of war and battle.
Newscasts are filled with images of skirmishes where rifles are in the hands of many zealots who would be known as warriors in their countries’ battles. Prizes are award for those who have the stamina both physically and mentally to withstand much physical pummeling in “Ultimate Combats”. In the Martial Arts, belts are awards as graduated degrees of difficulty are added to the training of these valiant warriors.
Allow me to recount one of the most incredible pictures I have seen of the training of men and women in the making of a Navy Seal. The first day is 36 hours long. Mud, rain, insults, injury and pain are all introduced within the first hour. Food and rest is not an option. It is the objective of the training officer to break someone’s will with that initial experience.
Placed in the middle of the compound where the grueling training takes place is a bell that is to be rung when someone quits the training. The bell may be rung at any point of the training. Some make it two days out of the six-week ordeal. Some ring the bell half way through. That bell stands in front of all the recruits as a reminder that at any time they can stop the training. At any time they can stop the incredible pain that is being inflicted in the preparation of war.
It is stated that there is a 60% dropout rate of new recruits for Navy Seals. Six out of ten men and women ring that bell, leave training and go back to their regular lives. The level of shame in ringing the bell and calling it quits lies solely in how important it is to become ‘the best of the best’. To some, the training is just too tough and the end result is not worth the pain.
I must submit that this is a valid response to the program of pain. Not many civilians would be able to stand for the first hour, much less six weeks of this constant training. There are those, however, to whom it is everything to be a part of the Navy Seals. It is the prestige of being a part of the principle unit called upon in the face of war that drives some to push for more. It is precisely that stamina and training which makes the nation count on their expertise in times of disaster.
Let us for a moment place our Gracious Warrior Bride into this picture. The army she is called to be a part of, is to be one where only those willing to go through the rigors of Boot Camp will be a part. In preparation for the warfare to come, we stand shoulder to shoulder with those others who deem it life or death to be on the team. Slugging through the mud of these everyday lives, dodging bullets, sidestepping the landmines of our temporal existence, we trudge on.
No matter how long we’ve been training, we call to a weaker sister “Don’t ring the bell – you can make it!” Sometimes there is a brother on the other side of us who is weakening, and through the pain of our own exhaustion, we try to help him along the way.
Once again, it is the preparation through which we must filter our understanding. Training is the essential ingredient to make any man or woman a warrior. To strip them of any outside thought or feeling, all must be brought into the focus of the war. In most cases, any person who wants to be the best, especially in preparation for war, has orders from a commander.
This is the purpose of Boot Camp – the absolute obedience and adherence to any and all commands given by a superior officer. Most likely recruits have the most difficulty with the realization they no longer have their own voice or opinion. Taming our own tongues and our will to be under the command of our Commander/Bridegroom may be our greatest difficulty as well. It is only those times when we hold our tongue and listen to what the Commander wants to teach us, will we start to become familiar with the voice that will lead us to Battle.
It would stand to reason that if we do not have the stamina for Boot Camp, we could ring the bell. We do not need to get to that point, however. The most wonderful thing about our Commander Bridegroom is that His Boot Camp is not designed to break us. His training is designed specifically for us to shed all the extra weights that constantly keep us from making it. It is designed to bring us into a disciplined walk with Him, so that as He issues His orders He can count on our obedience. It is designed to give us the confidence that He has in us. As He tells us to go take the land, we recognize His voice and can do His bidding.
Make no mistake, Boot Camp is rigorous. It is dirty and gritty and it offends our sensibilities to place a pure, spotless bride in the middle of such sweat. That is exactly where she is however. She is doing maneuvers, holding her tongue, trudging through the mud, every muscle and joint aching. She is right there getting prepared for the war and keeping her ear attuned to the slightest command of Her eternal Commander/Bridegroom.
All of us are acquainted with those who have a warfare mentality. There is no guesswork involved – warfare is what they do, who they are, and warfare is why they were saved. If there is a spiritual battle raging, it is these folk who run in guns blazing ready to tear down any and all strongholds in their way. This is not a bad trait, but perhaps one that is sloppy or immature.
The true nature of a warrior is not the image of a bull in a china shop, but rather that of a wise, disciplined soldier. It is one who shows restraint and only enters battle following the Commanders orders. He awaits instruction. He defers the decision to move in battle over to the one for whom he is fighting.
A wise warrior is constantly aware that he does not know the bigger picture. He does not always have the map with the layout of the enemy camp. The wise warrior is disciplined enough not to respond to the enemies’ teasing or taunting. Rather, he responds to the battle cry of his Commander. He has an ear always listening for the whispered command. There is no need for this Warrior Bride to draw attention to himself and away from the Commander. It is enough for him to follow. It is enough to fight his fight with wisdom, strength and dignity, always with reverence and respect towards his Commander.
In the story of Gideon, our Commander/Bridegroom is shown exposing two extreme truths about Himself and our responses. The first truth encompasses He patience regarding our humanity. The second truth is revealed in the clear directives, which Gideon was to carry out. Absolute obedience to the Commanders orders was essential to the victory. As our journey to understand the Warrior Bride to her fullest begins, we find that our Commander regularly displays this dichotomy with us.
Open communication with our Commander is a privilege we must not take for granted. He allows us, even in the trenches of war to express our emotions and our fears. It is in our nature as humans to second-guess ourselves and the voice that we hear is actually our Commander. This is part of His understanding however, and He fully allows and welcomes us just as we are.
Gideon was addressed as a mighty man of valor and yet expressed his uncertainty at actually hearing the commander’s voice. Gideon found it necessary to request signs from God. Our Commander was allowing Gideon to enter the school of honest communication with Him. It became essential later on that Gideon knew that voice down to the tiniest detail and the faintest whisper. The Commander met Gideon where he was. He was a great man who needed to learn how to listen.
The battle was won because Gideon followed the directives from the Commander to the letter. Not because he ran in kicking and screaming tearing down everything in sight. The Warrior Bride must be a warrior of strength, of might, and of valor. More importantly, he must possess the wisdom and humility to follow every command of the Commander.
That discipline process touches every part of life. The essential area that discipline means to conform is the area of control in our private lives. They are the moments that no one sees, which determine how close we are to becoming the Warrior Bride. It is the moment we receive the check in our spirit as a small, quiet voice. The voice that prods us on to excellence, who knows what we can become, and who won’t send us into a battle we are not ready for.
Our Commander takes us through the discipline of preparation so to wean us off our dependencies for direction, on looking to those things around us. He means for us to solely rely on Him for direction, for rest, for nourishment and for shelter. These are essential in battle. We need to know where to go, when to stop and when to move ahead. We need to find our rest and our shelter in our Commander. He waits to provide the nourishment we need to endure the battles ahead.
Trust is forged in times of battle. Submitting to the Commander finds the willing participants met by Him at every valley, every crossroads, meeting every enemy and every scuffle faced with Him. There is never a time we find ourselves facing a battle alone. Our Commander is right alongside prompting every move, if we can only hear His voice.
Once we have heard and understood the command, our Commander demands total obedience. He sees the bigger picture; He has the layout of the enemy’s camp.
As our Commander/Bridegroom it is His desire to mend the hurts and wounds His Warrior Bride receives. In desiring the fullness of the calling, there will be pain. There will be moments of loneliness, heartache and weakness. Take heart that our Commander allows this, not to make us weaken and give up. It is to strengthen and find the resolve buried deep within us. His desire is to rub healing balm into your wounds and hold you – His valiant Warrior Bride – until the pain subsides and the victories are won.