Oh Captain, My Captain!

Combat Order: (plural noun) Orders containing instructions for operations in a military campaign (as letters of instruction, operation orders, and administrative orders)

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The act of war or art of war fascinates us. We admire the dedication that these men and women have to fight to, in some sad cases, fight to their death. No promises are granted upon signing up to serve our country, not even what rank they will achieve, much less the promises of keeping their life.

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Each person starts at the bottom and it is up to them how hard they will work, discipline and apply dedication to become the best they can be. You will hear people say; “The (insert branch) made a man/woman out of them. “Rest assured that particular branch was not what made a man or woman out of said person. That choice was theirs.

The branch only offered a guide and it was their decision to push through and make it to the absolute most respective rankings. They can either join and fail, end up back home or worse losing their lives or they can become something remarkable with impeccable discipline to reach the highest rankings. It’s all a matter of how much work they want to endure.

For those who reach these high rankings; it’s admirable.

That should be respected.

There is one ranking in particular that has always fascinated me and that is the rank of the General. The top of the chain of command. They start out as “brigadiers” at one star and after many years of hard work, dedication, strenuous conditions/situations and a life choice of complete disciple they reach four stars and become a General.

In this life we are no different than the brigadiers. We all start out at as “one stars” and only after much discipline do we, if ever, reach “four stars”.  Our Captain is our God and just as He called Joshua after the death of Moses, He calls us. Joshua worked as Moses’s second for some time and God saw fit to honor the promise that was promised to Abraham in Genesis 15:18 of delivering the promise land to Him.108850_L

For Joshua that promise came with complete abandonment of his own will. There was no debating what God told him to do for Joshua. God said, 2 “Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them—to the Israelites.” (Josh. 1:2) He also gave specific order Joshua, ordering him to take seven priest, carrying seven trumpets while marching around the city for six days and on the seventh day march seven times around the city blaring the horns on the final round while going into battle against Jericho.

No matter how crazy Joshua and those priests must have looked marching around that city every day with those horns, they continued on. Could we do that?

Complete and utter abandonment of everything except Christ will.

Would we risk how silly we may look for the calling of Christ?

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Are we willing to raise in the ranks of our commander?

Just imagine that moment in Joshua’s life as he rose through the ranks. It must have been surreal; to know you were so in the will of Christ, doing what He requires of you that you are able to ask God to stop the sun and moon to take down those enemies and He does it!

 But Joshua was also human. He too had downfalls and we can see some of those as we look at all the battles during the Canaan Conquest in the one battle that one stands out.

The Battle of Ai (Josh. 7:2-6)

Victory was met with defeat.

It happens.

This is where we can learn one of the most important life lessons we encounter in our walk. We are only on the mountain for so long-we can know there will be defeat at some point in our life. These are the moments that we have to take an assessment of ourselves.

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Remember those commands God gave to Joshua? Not the feel good ones:

(1:5) I will never leave you or forsake you

(1:6) Be strong and of good courage

or

(1:8) Focus on my word and you will be successful.

But those commands (verses) that make us draw back a little and start barging with God by saying “Surely you don’t mean for me to give up this item, it brings me such happiness.” God had told Joshua of the “ban” to destroy everything with the exception of Rahabs household, the gold, silver, bronze and iron; those items were to be surrounded to God for His services.

That meant that all of Israel had to abide faithfully, not just Joshua. Achan, from the tribe of Judah wasn’t exactly honest about all of that gold, silver and bronze. He wanted to keep a little to himself. This angered God a good deal and the next thing we see is how the Israel’s army was defeated over Ai.

Joshua and his troops come off this huge victory over Jericho to be met with defeat over an area that was smaller and required less troops. This should have been another win in the books. Instead, it’s down in Biblical history as Joshua’s only defeat and the only battle that Jews were slain in.

All due to sin.

Why do we have this battle listed after such a monumental victory? Could it be Gods way of showing what happens when we take our eyes off Him and try to do it our way or hold on to a little bit of something we love when He tells us to let it go?climbing-to-the-top-2125149_1920

When God gives us a command and we accept, we need to follow through exactly as He says. If the command is march seven times, we much march seven times. Not six. Not eight. Seven. We must make sure that we and our team are all aligned.

If He is telling us to get rid of something or surrender something; we must give that thing up. We can’t follow or press on when we are holding on to the things He has placed under our “ban”.  If we do, we will fail. Like Achan our sin will get us every time. We can hide things from others but we must understand God sees and knows all the things we hide. Also, we must understand what happens when sin is out in our lives unresolved.

We have to take that time during defeat to draw near to God for honest examination of ourselves or our sin will render us defenseless against our enemy as we operate in our own strength and what we think is right according to our will.

Finally, we see at the end of this battle of Ai, the peoples heart melted like water; they had become depressed. They now showed a lack of confidence in God and their discouragement swallowed them up. They weren’t looking and giving an honest examination of themselves during this valley of defeat.

In this life, if we want to succeed at the highest ranking in our life that God has called us for we have to take an honest examination of who we are when we come off that mountain of a victory. We must learn we cannot advance to the next ranking if we are remaining at “one star” after every defeat.

Jude 1:20 But you, beloved, build yourselves up on your most holy faith, make progress, rise like edifice higher and higher, praying in the Holy Spirit.

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Gary, US Navy 1998-2003
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Happy Cheatham, Marine Corps (WWII) (Gary’s grandfather)
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In Memory of my grandfather, Forest Aargon Smtih, US Army (WWII)
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Gary (Crete, Greece) US Navy 1998-2003
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Thank You to those who have served our country.

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