Sgt. Jacob Daniel DeShazer was a crew member in the legendary Doolittle Raiders, a team of 80 brave military servicemen who volunteered to bomb Tokyo in retaliation for the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. DeShazer was among those captured by the Japanese Army after bailing out of his plane over Japanese-occupied China. He spent 40 months in captivity, 34 months of it in solitary confinement, and was the victim of cruel torture and starvation. In his own words, DeShazer said, “My hatred for the enemy nearly drove me crazy. . .
Have you ever wondered. . . . Where in the world did we get the idea that sin has no consequences?
Perhaps it’s difficult to get in the “mood” for Christmas this year. Perhaps deployment has distracted you from the “feeling” that usually comes with preparing for Christmas. That’s understandable. And perhaps we can help. Because there’s nothing better to help you focus on the real meaning of Christmas than worshipful singing and solid biblical preaching.
It seems to be some sort of personality test—people ask “are you the sort of person who sees a glass as half empty or half full?” That apparently is the gauge of whether you are pessimistic and cynical, or optimistic and hopeful. But this Thanksgiving gives us a chance (once again) to check and see what the Bible has to say about our attitude. We never find the words “half empty” or “half full”—but to be “overflowing.”
Our family has a tradition of gathering around the Thanksgiving table and beginning our time together by sharing one thing that we’re grateful for that year. And so it goes— around the table with everyone adding their deep thoughts or silly remembrances from the past 12 months. Through the years I remember such blessings being voiced as new babies, surviving moves, finding new jobs, getting over illnesses, new marriages, interesting vacations, finishing up educational goals, new cars, new pets, etc. Recently we were with a large group of military couples—all ranks and branches— where every couple in the room offered one thing for which they were grateful . . .
I sat in our Bible study and watched another woman share a prayer request. She was having a hard time dealing with the fact that her parents and sister’s family had moved across the country. After years of living in the same small town of Homer, Alaska, this woman missed them terribly and was growing bitter about it. As I listened to her share with broken voice and many tears, I’m ashamed to admit I had no compassion for her whatsoever. The first thing that jumped into my mind was, “You call that bad? Try being a military wife! We hardly ever get to live near our extended families. We don’t even live with our own husbands half the time!”
I did some vehicle recovery training early in my military career. I don’t remember much of it other than this one exercise where the instructors drove an M113 Armored Personnel Carrier into a swamp and told us to drag it out using some ropes, pulleys, ground anchors and get this---a hand winch! An M113 weighs around 10 tons and this one was down a bank and in the mud. The winch was rated for 2 tons! We followed the instructor’s directions and set up a series of ropes running through pulleys and anchored to solid ground at the other end. The pulley was then attached to the end of another rope and so on. The theory was that each pulley/rope/ground anchor we set up doubled the weight we could pull because the ground anchors would take half the weight.
We gather with military couples every Saturday night for dinner and Bible study. And at the end of our meeting time we take prayer requests—and then pray. But on this particular Saturday night, a certain prayer request brought some deep discussion. One of our young military men voiced discouragement over the atmosphere in his workplace on board ship. There was crudeness—to put it mildly. His desire was to be “light in a dark place”. But, in this current culture, what does that really mean for a Christian serving in today’s military?
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!
A friend of mine recently asked me how I keep my mind from wandering to the what-ifs during deployments. Her husband is a helicopter pilot beginning his first deployment. She had heard about a fatal overseas helicopter crash on the news and, though knowing her husband wasn’t involved, she wanted some advice on how to deal with the “It could have been him” or the “What would I do without him” thoughts that infiltrate a military wife’s mind when her husband is deployed.