This past summer Bob and I enjoyed visiting my parents in their beautiful Midwest retirement community—it’s like a college campus for the over-60 crowd. They’re incredible! Interestingly, we were also roaming around the California Redwood Forest just few weeks prior to that, and in my mind, there is a striking resemblance between the two in more ways than one, if you get my drift.
Now a retired engineer, Dad is a United States Navy veteran who worked as a mechanic on airplanes, and his stories keep me spellbound. While we were visiting, a neighbor stopped in. Mr. B is a 90+-year-old U.S.A.F. bomber pilot vet from World War II. (Triple exclamation marks…!!!)
After coming home from that trip, Bob and I pulled out an old black and white Gregory Peck DVD—Twelve O’Clock High. If you haven’t seen it, or lately perhaps, or if you can’t stomach the first twenty minutes of Saving Private Ryan, this is an excellent one. Transfixed to the real WW II aerial dogfight footage, at one point I’m pointing and yelling at the screen, “That’s Mr. B! That’s Mr. B!”
Somehow, it adds depth when you can put a face on it, y’know?
The movie brings out some serious psychology, however, about the mental/emotional discipline of warfare, of pacing, of expectation. It’s not win-one-battle and go home for a cup of tea, (or stronger, depending.)
Which is something that Joshua brings out in his battle history for the expanding Israelite nation, doing it all according to God’s plan:
“As the LORD had commanded his servant Moses, so Moses commanded Joshua. And Joshua did as he was told, carefully obeying all the commands that the LORD had given to Moses…The Israelite territory now extended all the way…waging war for a long time to accomplish this.”
God was powerful enough that it could’ve happened in a day (a “let-there-be-light” display of power) which would have been nice, wipe out the whole area before the Hebrews showed up (perhaps minor flood repeat?), and hand it over without Joshua’s men unsheathing one sword. No mess, no clean-up.
Alas, no. God had destined His people to fight for it, to participate in their inheritance.
Of course, wise folks know that just giving things to their children is actually a disservice to the young, whereas having them appropriately work for it allows them the satisfaction of appreciating it. Basic Parenting 101. And, sure, it gets messy, and there’s more clean up. But the end result is far-reaching in terms of character:
And it takes T-I-M-E.
“…when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.”
I am well aware that, this side of eternity, I am still at war. And as there is no “instant character”, neither is there “instant faith”. (One example: just because my prayers don’t appear to be answered doesn’t mean I give up praying.) Hope is not mere wishful thinking when it is properly placed in the God of the Universe.
My Commander has not instructed me to shed my armor yet, and it behooves me to keep my sword and shield at full ready. There is still much to be accomplished in my life as God continues to expand my territory with His plans for His kingdom.
“Roger” (message received) and “Wilco” (will comply).
Joshua 10:15,17,18; James 1:2-3 Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.