Friday, April 3, 2009

Drilling His Heart Out

My oldest son, Justin, is presently on Parris Island in South Carolina, training to become a Marine. We got a letter from him Wednesday with news of the past week's events, training, and endeavors.

One of the "biggest" challenges there appears to be the drilling. These young men are required to march and drill and march and drill and march and drill... over and over. If there is any free time beyond the specific training on the Matrix schedule, it is spent drilling.

The goal is for all of these recruits to become one in their sounding off, their foot motions, their arm motions, every action. They are to "be as one." Their Senior Drill Sargeant does not want one single man in the platoon to be out of step. It is to be as if the entire body has become one soldier with exactness of mind, purpose and movement.

I refer to this as a challenge because in Justin's letters, this lofty goal is constantly in the works. What is being strived for has not been achieved. One can almost hear the frustration in his voice as he writes of the repeated attempts day after day, the resulting consequences for the entire platoon because of inadequacy, and the reduced free time as the whole exercise is started over.

I wrote in an earlier post about the mentality of the recruit being changed from "I, me, and mine" the moment the first steps are taken onto Parris Island. These young men are to lose the "self" mindset. They will incredibly become one mind, one body... pursuing one goal before they graduate. This training will be vital when they are a unit out on a mission to overcome the enemy. They will, they must.... all be on the same page in their movements, their instruction, and their will to accomplish well what is asked of them. This will be their means of victory.

And so, for today, the Drill Instructor mercilessly trains and retrains. He does not let them slip up. He does not let them give up. He will not allow attitudes that are uncommitted. He does not tolerate actions that are less than 100%. He knows that oneness is crucial for the goal to be reached. He also knows from personal experience that this oneness is what makes a scruffy, undisciplined, self-centered group of young men conform into a chiseled, disciplined, one-minded band of brothers willing to die for the sakes of others in order to accomplish what is asked.

I think this "coming together as many into one" occurs in many scenarios. Any team in the sports arena must consist of players who give their best in their particular position, or the plays will not be successful. And if too many players are ineffective, the game will be lost.
A troupe of dancers must all be in step with the others or the ballet will be botched, and the overall effect will appear clumsy at best.
A family must teach and practice the denial of self-service, and pursue the attitude of servanthood, looking out for the "best of others around me" or it will become dysfunctional with breakdowns in relationships, and grow in bitterness instead of love for each other.

God calls us to leave behind the "self-centered" life of following our own plans and to follow in His ways, which are for our best. He chooses to take a band of puny, insecure, less than committed, selfish children of His own and train us, disciple us, drill us until we finally begin to work together for His kingdom. He is relentless with those whom He has called. He knows that with Christ as our example, we will become one, we will conform into His image.

Oh what a patient God we have. How often do we get out of step with what is asked of us? How many times do we fail our Lord because of discouragement and mindsets of "What's the use?...Someone else is not giving their all, why should I even try?" We serve a God who desires that all of His children be of one mind for His glory and the advancement of His Kingdom

It is what we know and believe about our God that will define and shape us for the rest of our lives.

Pursuing knowledge from His Word will give us, as individuals, an edge not of this world, and the resulting wisdom will be a strong weapon in a body of believers that God has chosen for His soldiers. It will prevent us from slipping into an unthinking, undisciplined group of self-centered followers.

Thank GOD, HE is a merciful and gracious Instructor. He guides and shapes us patiently and spends a lifetime working in us. He peels back layer by layer any denial or shortcomings, and gently sends us back to drill again until we get it done...His way. He speaks to us over and over to make sure that we can identify His voice in an army of voices calling out to us.

I feel with and for Justin. It goes without saying that the path he is walking was not accepted lightly, nor taken without counting the cost up front. It is a difficult enough pursuit on his own without the added frustrations of those who would be less than committed. Yet even in the midst of those trials, he will grow, he will be stronger because of it. It is part of the bigger plan, the bigger picture that he cannot view in its entirety, but can trust God's vantage point of his life.

How about you? Are you listening and following the commands of the One who made you and knows you inside-out? Are you in step with the truth of God's Word and becoming one with a body of believers whose allegiance belongs to Jesus Christ? I hope so.

May you and I dare not be a part of those who would be self-serving and undisciplined, wanting to hear and follow only what pleases their ears, and not what God says. Let us be sure that we are putting forth our best efforts. When talking to our Lord every day, may it be our goal to feel His good pleasure and know that He has seen the intentions of our heart. May we attempt 100% every day...all day.

Today, right now, where you sit, acknowledge God afresh for Who He is in your life. Tell Him again that you have counted the cost. Let Him hear you recommit yourself 100% to His will for you. Delight Him with a heart that is resigned to do whatever it takes to be ready and able for His plans for you! Tell Him how very much you love Him. Then go out and practice....drill....until you get it right. He will go with you.

Feel yourself being defined once again. It is a good feeling. Don't lose it.


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