Listen up, Christians, there are some things we need to learn about preparing our children, our leaders, and ourselves for the spiritual battles we will inevitably face and the United States Marine Corps is a really good teacher!
You may recall that I wrote about my sister’s son, Zach, leaving for boot camp last summer. Well, the next big event on his agenda is The Crucible. After watching a WGN video depicting the final events of The Crucible (watch it here) I have to say, I am praying for my nephew like never before!
Behind the dark sleep-deprived eyes of these young Marines one can see their strength of character. Through their dirty faces streaked with sweat and tears, and the unbalanced cadence of their march, exhaustion is revealed. However one thing remains firm: they stand firm, solid, and upright: they are victors. They have conquered The Crucible.
I see in the faces of these Marines the very same thing I see in the faces of every person who has passed through a crucible of holy fire — refined strength!
In these Marines, it is the strength that comes from knowing what he is made of. In Christians, it is the strength of knowing who God is and that he is burning away every bit of worthlessness within us. Our strength grows as we understand that he is making us into the image of Jesus.
While these Marines push themselves to the limit their parents, spouses, relatives, and friends participate in 54-hour prayer vigils. Family, friends and neighbors are asked to keep their porch lights on or a candle burning for the duration of The Crucible. My light will be on.
Do we uphold Christians who are fighting through the exhaustion of a spiritual crucible as diligently? Why not?
My nephew has prepared for this. He is ready. He will succeed. But what about every child who gets on a school bus and is faced with life-changing decisions? Are they prepared to withstand the daily offer of drugs, pornography, or bullies? Can they plow through the regular onslaught of attack on their faith? What about the adults — can they? Can we? Can I?
Is there a Christian boot camp to prepare for the crucibles of life? How can we prepare our children and ourselves? We know that once we are in the trial, it is too late to learn what we need to know to survive intact. We need to learn from the Marines: they don’t expect their recruits to fail because they have prepared them to succeed.
We need training that saturates our spirit with God’s love, transforms our mind with his truth and immerses our heart in the reality of his faithfulness.
Why? Because if we have not put the required work into the necessary training, we will let the people who count on us most and ourselves down. We will fail. Our leaders will fail. Our children will fail. And those failures affect every aspect of life. How are you training? How are you training your children?
To prepare for The Crucible, these soon-to-be Marines have done little more than eat, drink, sleep and breathe the Marines for the past 12 weeks — they learned what it means to identify as Marines. We must learn what it is like to eat, drink, sleep and breathe Jesus — we must learn what it means to identify as a name-bearer of Christ.
These recruits studied every detail of Marine history — they know who owns them. Do we? From where do we derive our understanding of God? How often do we dig deep into the Word of God and apply it to our lives? Do we really believe that we are not our own, but that we belong to God?
They know they will never leave a fellow Marine behind. They are united in their goals. As Christians we must strive for unity, we must seek to lift each other up rather than fighting against one another.
In their time together leading up to The Crucible, these recruits have come to know one another. They know who the leaders and the encouragers are. They know each other’s strengths and weaknesses. They know who has their back. They are a team.
How much do you know about the Christians with whom you attend church or Bible study, or who live down the street from you? How well do they know you? Are you a leader? An encourager? Do you have their back? Do they know this? Do you know who has yours?
These recruits have learned how Marine’s think, behave, and fight. Do you know how Christians are supposed to think, behave and fight? Has the Word of God transformed your thinking so that you think, behave, and fight like a Christian? After all, we are at war!
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will” — Romans 12:2 NIV
God will allow tests — crucibles — and like our recruits, in order to persevere, to endure, and to survive we must be prepared. Are you? What is your training plan?
Are you encouraged to know there is a light burning for you…
“Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.” – Psalm 119:105 NIV
“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” — John 8:12 NIV