Do you remember Scott O’Grady? Scott was an Air Force pilot shot down over Bosnia during a reconnaissance flight in 1995. It was a war-time incident and O’Grady survived six harsh winter days on a diet of bushes, bugs, and rain water. He avoided detection by the enemy until he was rescued by the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit.
Now I’m no expert on military training, but I’m pretty certain that, in the midst of that crisis, Scott O’Grady relied on the survival skills that he had learned during his training. More than likely, that training was arduous, demoralizing, and even painful at times. BUT, it was the training that enabled him to survive that crisis.
Most followers of Jesus have been there, though we don’t realize it. As we seek to know and obey God’s will, obstacles and enemies will rise up around us. Changing circumstances will hack away at our faith. The devil himself will whisper threats to our security while we sit passively listening for the still small voice of God urging us to stand firm and fight.
Now imagine a military drill instructor spending his time with a special forces trainee while pumping him full of self-esteem building clichés. Imagine that drill instructor feeds his trainees with rich foods, protects them from the harsh elements, and assures them that Special Forces trainees deserve the most comfortable life possible. If that happened, those soldiers would be at serious risk when the cruel realities of battle came. If a soldier is to survive, he must be prepared.
God desires well-trained, experienced warriors for His Kingdom-work. He develops those warriors through crisis survival training. There are plenty of self-serving, ego-inflated, single issue, fence-straddling folks who to be called “Christian,” but are unwilling to move out of their comfort zones to build His Kingdom. God wants men and women who are tried, tested, and true to His call. The more intense the trial and suffering, the greater the work He has for them to do. God wants men and women who realize that our responsibility involves more than making a living. It involves making a difference in Jesus’ Name.
Perhaps God has you in training right now. Don’t be intimidated by what’s happening. God Himself has promised to be with you. Whatever the crisis, whatever the obstacle, whoever the perceived enemies, Paul’s admonition to Timothy (I Timothy 6:11-12) is also for you: “...pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith...” And let me assure you that God’s plan is not simply for your survival. It’s for a victory!
Dr. Zane Brown
Retired Associational Missionary for Colleton Baptist Association of Churches
Teaching Pastor at Nova Church