A good friend of mine decided to enter the United States Army active duty more than a year ago. As a matter of fact, he wanted me to write one of the letters of reference for him to the Officer Candidate School board. I gladly recommended him.
Right before he left for the "Army" I sent him this email. I found it a while ago, and felt like sharing it here:
The next six months will be some of the most challenging of your life--not to mention your spiritual experience. You will meet some wonderful people, and some not-so-wonderful people. God will use both groups to help you see as He sees, even though your vision will be limited.
But also remember that God does indeed look on the heart--and sees much more than we humans see when we scrutinize the "outward person."
Athleticism, physical fitness, physical prowess, sharp intellect, keen senses of humor--we humans tend to evaluate others by these artificial standards. Yet God evaluates people--made in His image--by their hearts. He evaluates them by their willingness to live holy and humbly before Him. God never turns the brokenhearted and contrite person away. Instead, He draws them close to Himself, and heals their wounds.
After we hung up last night the story of the Lost Sheep, the Lost Coin, and the Lost Son from Luke 15 weighed heavily on my heart. Particularly so in the latter parable, because there was more than one prodigal son. The "elder brother" who never left the farm was just as prodigal (if not more so) than the younger who spent his inheritance (which he had no right to ask for at the time) on "riotous living."
The "elder son" never realized that everything in his father's possession was there for the asking. When the younger son returned, the father threw a party---but the older son could only point the accusatory finger and say "that son of yours...." It sorta makes me wonder if the older son wasn't glad, after all, that the younger one had left--and worse yet, hoped he would stay gone and never return.
You will meet alot of "younger sons" in your journey through military life--and life in general. They will be consumed with "riotous living"--sex, relationships, climbing to the top, fame, being the "best of the best.." (and let me say there is nothing wrong with being the best or striving for excellence, as long as it honors God) regardless of whom they have to avoid or step on....
Yet those "younger sons" will always come up empty....
But you will meet alot of "older brothers" too. This is the "I-told-you-so" crowd. This is also the "I've- never- been -the -slight- bit -disobedient- yet- you- never -do- anything- special- for- me" bunch. Their evil twin is the "Well, why don't you honor me" folks....
And we've all been there....many, many times. I know I have...and if you live long enough you may get the opportunity to become one of those kinds too....
Don't do it.....ever!
One of the kindest men I've ever known is a retired Four-Star Army General who once told a group of us, "I've gotten everything I've ever wanted out of life because I have always made sure that others get everything they have wanted out of life."
Jesus was less wordy when He said, "Greater Love has no man than this: That he lay down his life for his friends."
With that, I'll close. Serve the Lord fervently, serve this country passionately, and I know you will.
I'm here for you...always.