Building upon the importance and beauty of duty in the above "Old Leaves" essay
we now examine
What makes a WARRIOR in general...
and a CHRISTIAN WARRIOR in particular?
|Old soldiers, old leaves... This man (surveyor, rodeo cowboy, working cowboy, owner of two
small businesses, and preacher) is a Bible believer. And, because of his true and selfless love
for the Lord in accordance with His Scriptures, he more quickly grasped and accepted the essence
of AOR than anyone I've ever known. His characteristics are those of a warrior: simple, direct,
fearless, tirelessly uncompromising, and wholly devoted to his duty...as revealed to him by the
word of God during his daily Bible study.
|Old soldiers, old leaves... This humble man also studied the Bible every day. His Christian
understanding of authority and duty enabled him to overcome his introverted nature and
become one of the best and most beloved field generals of the U.S. Civil War. Had it not been
for the war he'd have lived in obscurity. His wartime feats reveal that he was in his element
in combat; he was a true soldier who mastered his profession.
|Old soldiers, old leaves... This man's towering intellect and consistently-superior performance of
everything he undertook caused him to be maligned by men who had an unattractive combination
of ego and insecurity. The people of the Philippines, Australia, and Japan fell in love with Americans
because of this man. He usually did not attend church, preferring to study the Bible daily, which gave
him his famous devotion to duty. He is probably the most brilliant conqueror in history (defined as
those warriors who had the distinction of being both a commanding general and a post-war ruler).
Too principled to excel at politicking in the military or industry, he was in his element in war, and was
a success in spite of a shortage of men, munitions, and supplies because the war in Europe took priority
over the war in the Pacific. His island-hopping campaign was a masterpiece, and his Inchon landing is
considered the most outstandingly conceived and executed amphibious landing in the history of warfare.
|Old soldiers, old leaves... This man, who in battle lost an arm and the sight in one eye, was
the greatest fighting admiral who ever trod a pitching deck. He was a brilliant tactician and
teacher of tactics, and there was simply no quitting in him. An inspirational leader, he was
admired and loved by all who served under him. Because of his victories Britain became a
dominating worldwide empire, which caused the British to love him in spite of his being a
scumbag in his personal relations. Largely unfit for peacetime life, civil or military, he was
in his element in war. He died at sea in battle.
|We have very few Christian warriors in our ranks. It is easy to blame that on today's effeminate,
politically correct, morality- and tradition-worshipping church. But to do so would be to ignore the
Holy Spirit. The sad fact is there aren't many Christians today who love the Lord enough to let Him
teach their fingers to fight and their hands to make war. The key to being a Christian warrior is to
surrender all to Him, master His Book, and live it.
As implied above, successful warriors are "in their element." That element in Christianity is love
for the Lord. Christianity is a relationship with Him. In order to be His wife, His servant, His soldier,
and His friend we must first love Him enough to allow Him to teach, correct, punish, and train us
into the kind of obedient soldiers who live to carry out His revealed will. Tell Him you want to be in
that element, that you want to love Him so much that even self won't stop you.
Ask Him to help you love Him.
That love will motivate you to please Him. In order to please Him you must know His
Instruction Manual. Love will help you develop the discipline to, first, learn the Bible,
and, second, be a doer of the word. The normal combat fears you encounter will eventually
defeat you...unless you have that love to keep you in the war.
As you mature, your love for Him will cause you to begin caring for His other wives.
And the more you help other Christians the more your love for Him will grow.
I say again, love for the Lord is the imperative. You must work on your love and your
relationship with Him. Always be honest with yourself and with Him.
And ask Him to help you love Him.
|Old soldiers, old leaves... Talk about being in your element, this man consistently won battles against
overwhelming odds: The armies he fought against had huge advantages in men, tanks, guns, ammunition,
and replenishment of same; they dominated the skies (sea and land) with swarms of fighter-bombers;
dominated the shipping lanes with surface ships and submarines; and, because the Allies had cracked the
Germans' secret communications code, they had complete foreknowledge of his battle plans and the time
and date resupply ships would put to sea. How then did he win his battles? Because he had such a great
understanding of his profession that he dominated the dynamic chaos of battle by analyzing the action,
understanding how to avoid problems and take advantage of opportunities, and then acting with a
swiftness and energy that shocked, bewildered, frightened, and routed his opponents. They simply had no
way to plan against his masterly reactions. It has been said that his victories over generals who had such
huge advantages expose those (big-name) generals as mediocre. In fact, his experiences convinced him
that battlefield doctrines and tactics are often inadequate or wrong because they were established over
time by people ...and most people are mediocre at their jobs.
I read an article once that made quite an impression on me. It was by a FrenchmanÖa reporter, I believe. I canít remember if he lived in the 19th or 20th century, but one evening when he was young he was one of many guests at a huge banquet. The long table was festooned with fancy cloths, silver candlesticks, bone china, crystal goblets, and floral arrangements. White-gloved servants quietly and unobtrusively went about their tasks. The young reporter was delighted that heíd been deemed worthy to dine with so many distinguished aristocrats. Most of the guests were between his age and middle age, and all were eating, talking, and laughing with those around them. The reporter was enjoying himself so much he was almost giddy. On his right was a beautiful and charming young lady, and on his left a middle-aged gentleman who was polite and well-spoken, but somewhat reserved. The young man was taken with the young, laughing beauty, and thought she was enjoying him, too. One thing at the banquet, however, seemed incongruous: an old man sitting across the table and off to the right from him. The old man sat slightly stooped with age, and he seemed unconcerned that the laughing young people at the table hardly spoke with him. He ate slowly and wasnít always able to keep drool from his chin. The flickering candles shadowed the lines on his face and made him look frail and insignificant as he quietly contented himself with his own thoughts.
The old manís presence began to irritate the reporter, who increasingly wondered why on earth anybody would invite him. The young man turned to the gentleman on his left and asked with disdain and irritation who that elderly, drooling gentleman was. The reserved guest looked with surprise at the youngster, and with perhaps a touch of contempt showing through his impeccable manners replied, ďWhy, thatís General So-in-so.Ē The name had so much impact on the young reporter he didnít even respond to the polite gentleman; he turned and looked at the old soldier with more than newfound respect Ė he looked at him with awe. The generalís feats during his military service were legendary. He had singlehandedly and heroically done much to save France. Suddenly the reporter felt the dinner party fade into insignificance. The pretty young lady became a petty distraction, and the laughing conversations at the table became inane, worthless trivia. Oh, the things that man had seen and done in his lifetime! And what mindless lightweights the general was now suffering at this banquet! No one deserved to dine with him! The reporter sat there the rest of the dinner and reflected and sobered and matured as he realized a person isnít the outer shell; a person is the sum of his deeds.
One autumn day at Blue Ribband Farm I sat at the desk in our library working. Whenever I looked out the window at the blazing colors of the leaves in all their glory (pictured above) with the mist rising after a rain shower, I appreciated what I was seeing but was distracted by the paperwork I was doing. However, one time as I looked up my eye focused on a single leaf, and then another, and another on the tree Iíd planted just outside my window as a short sapling years before. It was now a giant that performed many tasks, including shading our home from the summer afternoon sun. The individual leaves were mottled with spots of fungus, riddled with insect holes, and torn from the wind, the rain, and hail from thunderstorms. Some leaves were already gone, early casualties in the fight against disease, predators, and the elements. But they had all done their part, and they were all contributing to the glorious scene I often took for granted but was now reflecting on with deepening understanding and appreciation. My dad always said, ďThe picture solves the problem.Ē The colorful picture above illustrates the fact that autumnís big picture of grandeur and glory is actually made up of individual old and dying leaves that are mottled and torn and tired.
I now look at leaves differently. I donít just see spots, tears, and scars, and I donít just hear the rustling of dried brown leaves blowing before autumn winds. When I look at old leaves and bare trees, I hear birds heralding springtime as yellow buds swell with promise; I hear meadowlarks and see the green leaves of summer tilting toward the sun and dappling me with shade; I hear jays gathering beech nuts amidst the symphony of color that crowns the myriad successes that are individual leaves. In winter when I hear the crackling and popping of a fire in the stove and see Robin cozying up to its radiant warmth, I think of trees and leaves and the glory of purpose in individuals merely doing their duty.
And I look at Christians differently. I donít look at their worldly wealth and their superficial physical characteristics; I look at their fruits. What kind of Christians are they? Do they study and know and discuss the Bible? Are they doers of the word? If so, I realize Iím looking at comrades, Iím looking at wonderful and valued members of the church.
We are leaves on The Vine. Our deeds of submissive obedience to Christ contribute to His glory and to the welfare of His church. There is no nobler deed than the performance of oneís duty.
|OFF-DUTY MOTIVATIONAL READING: Old Soldiers, Old Leaves, and Duty
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|As a Bible believer I sometimes get disgusted as I look around me at the awful condition of society and
the world. But last night while I was sitting in the living room in the dark fellowshipping with the Lord,
I began mentioning, one by one, a number of you individual comrades – as well as the church as a whole
– and asking the Lord to bless you. And all of a sudden you individual leaves formed an encouraging –
indeed, glorious – picture. I saw leaves soldiering on in the Sonshine: Some are young, and yet have
insights and spiritual maturity I don’t think I had at that age; some have lost loved ones, and yet persevere
with Job’s selfless dedication and love; some are old and handicapped, and yet have a cheerfulness and
humility in their service to the Lord. All around the world you comrades – young, old, male, female
– impress me with your unpretentiousness and determination as you strive to glorify God in accordance
with His word. I thought how blessed I am to have met you; and I thought how pleased the Lord must be
with all of you. Thank you for encouraging me and for giving me a period of wonderful and thankful
fellowship with the Lord. And thank you for making me feel less alone. You refresh my bowels, comrades.
I salute you with thankful love and respect knowing His word is in your hearts as a burning fire (Jer 20:9).