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“If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from His love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.” — Philippians 2:1,2
“In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps. –Proverbs 16:9
Where’s our next assignment? Where do we go next—or do we get out?
Ever asked those questions? Of course . . . it’s part of being in the military. We seem to routinely assess our current assignments, and then decide what the options are for our next move.
Of course filling out a “dream sheet” can bring out negativity in all of us—with the cynical attitude that we will NOT get what we put down as first, or even last, choice! After all, we have come to know that the needs of the military always come first, right? Knowing that to be true challenges our desire to have some control over our lives and brings us reluctantly to humble ourselves before authority.
I recently heard a sermon from Dr. Stephen Davey of Colonial Baptist Church in Cary, North Carolina, in which he quoted Dietrich Bonhoeffer on the attitude of humility. Bonhoeffer, the great author and theologian martyred by the Nazis for his faithful stand during World War II, referred to the “discipline of humility” in this way: “We must be ready to allow ourselves to be interrupted by God. God will be constantly crossing our path and canceling our plans; Christians [may not] want their lives crossed or [interrupted]. But it is part of the discipline of humility; we do not assume that our schedule is our own to manage, but allow it to be arranged by God.”
Accepting God’s sovereignty means facing assignments at inopportune times to dangerous or unfamiliar places. Recognizing complicating factors, we are often called on to go to places we absolutely do not want to go.
Fifteen years ago I took notes on a sermon preached at an ordination service for a young pastor. In it, the “older” pastor charged this younger pastor to go four places. I find this sermon relevant today—because the role of leadership as a Christian, in whatever arena of life (civilian or military), calls us to go these same four places.
So if the question for our next assignment—or for life—is “where do I go?”, then these four locations, from an older mentor, are for you:
1) “Go to the Upper Room, where Jesus shows a servant’s heart.”
“ . . . so He got up from the meal, took off His outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around His waist. After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash His disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around Him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to Him, ‘Lord, are You going to wash my feet?’ Jesus replied, ‘You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.’ ‘No,’ said Peter, ‘you shall never wash my feet.’ Jesus answered, ‘Unless I wash you, you have no part with Me.’ ‘Then, Lord,’ Simon Peter replied, ‘not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!’ . . . ‘Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you” (John 13:4-9,14-15).
2) “Go to Gethsemene, where Jesus shows a surrendered heart to do the will of God.”
“The Jesus went with His disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and He said to them, ‘Sit here while I go over there and pray.’ He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with Him, and He began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then He said to them, ‘My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with Me.’ Going a little farther, He fell with His face to the ground and prayed, ‘My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from Me. Yet not as I will, but as You will.’ Then He returned to His disciples and found them sleeping. ‘Could you men not keep watch with Me for one hour?’ He asked Peter. ‘Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.’ He went away a second time and prayed, ‘My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may Your will be done.’ When He came back, He again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. So He left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing” (Matthew 26:36-44).
3) Go to the Cross, where Jesus shows a sacrificial heart.
“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that His life may be revealed in our mortal body” (2 Corinthians 4:7-11).
4) Go to the Tomb, where the power of His resurrection shows a supernatural heart.
“Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary of Magdala went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put Him!” So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. Then Simon Peter, who was behind him, arrived and went into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the burial cloth that had been around Jesus’ head. The cloth was folded up by itself, separate from the linen. Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed” (John 20:1-8).
Do you wonder where you will go next? As my husband always tells Christian service members awaiting assignments, “Your orders are cut at a much higher level than your service’s military personnel center!” While you humbly wait, go to the Upper Room and serve like Jesus. Go to Gethsemane and obey like Jesus. Go to the cross, and live sacrificially as Jesus died sacrificially.
And go to the tomb, where we experience God doing the impossible.
Questions to Share:
- What was your favorite military assignment? What did God teach you during that time?
- What was your least favorite military assignment? What did God teach you during that time?
- Share your thoughts with one another. Pray together for your next move to bring you closer to God.