According to a recent article written by the Associated Press, one third of U.S. troops are suffering low morale in the war in Iraq. At least half said they would probably get out of the service rather than re-enlist.
According to the article, the fear is that long deployments bring low morale. The problem seems to range from the living conditions to the lack of good mail service. According to the report, the newspaper ‘conducted a convenience survey, meaning the questions were asked of those who happened to be available at the time rather than to a randomly selected cross-section.’ In other words, one could conclude that the survey is very accurate or skewed, depending on your perspective.
These kinds of surveys serve no purpose other than to lower morale. These men are soldiers. They enlisted to lay down their lives for their country. They serve at the pleasure of the Commander in Chief. They are soldiers, men and women who are a cut above. They could make more money, they could have better living conditions, they could get better mail service, but they chose to serve their country.
I’ve never been on the battlefield, but I’ve been fighting a spiritual battle with the devil since the day I was saved. I have read my parent’s letters when he was in the service. For most of five and a half years, they were apart. For about two years, the only way they could communicate with each other was by mail. Because of the sensitive nature of dad’s assignment with the Atomic Bomb Group, my mother, nor his family, rarely knew where he was. The mail was censured and security was tight.
The letters indicate they missed each other and wanted the war to be over. They wanted to get ‘back to normal.’ But, I can’t find one reference to low morale. Why? We were fighting the enemy. They were Americans. There were forces seeking the destruction of America. The men and women who gave themselves sacrificially during those days were determined to win, no matter the cost. The job wasn’t finished until there was victory. Close only counts in horseshoes. Thousands died in the Pacific and Atlantic. Thousands are buried in overseas’ graves, their bodies never to return home. They died, so we might win. Do you think our freedom was worth it? They did.
We aren’t the stuff of which martyrs are made. We’ve raised a lazy generation who sees war as a video game. They are couch potatoes. When you spoil kids, the result is a lessened ability to face the realities of life. Quitters never win and winners never quit. Many today don’t know that principle, they would rather bail than prevail.
War is inevitable. Conflict is going to come. There are enemies out there seeking to devour us. This is true in war and the Christian life. Our enemy is Satan. He wages war and is relentless. He wants to discourage, demoralize and destroy the church and believers. If we cave into our feelings, he will win.
Someone told me about a family leaving a church because of the pastor’s stand on the necessity of Sunday night attendance. They think the pastor is too opinionated. He is. He admits it. He won’t even apologize for it. Apparently it doesn’t take much for some folks to ship out. People who jump from church to church are like those who jump ship; you can’t trust them when the heat is on. They aren’t good warriors; they enjoy whining and dining too much to fight for the faith. This kind of “Christian” doesn’t have the faith of our fathers. They aren’t soldiers like Christ is looking for.
There will always be those who need to be coddled and cuddled. Some adults never grow up. They want their bottle and whine when the preacher changes their formula. They want a pastor to tickle their ears. They are decedents of those who rejected the prophets. There’s not enough “Thus says the Lord today.” That’s the problem. Pastors aren’t producing an army, they are promoting quilting clubs. Jesus called the most faithful members of the synagogue, ‘white washed tombs’ and ‘of their father the devil.’ Talk about a tough pastor. Jesus gave no quarter to the enemy. No pastor should. If he does, he doesn’t deserve the title of pastor or leader.
There is always fallout in a time of revival. Some can’t take the heat. They like the feeling, but don’t want to be deployed to deter the enemy. If this were not true, it wouldn’t be true revival. True revival weeds out contenders from the pretenders. It reveals those who are just ‘going to church’ and those who are ‘sold out to Jesus.’ Real revival leads to true Christians stepping up to the plate. Pretenders, like fickle fans, slip out before the game is over. They will go looking for “Pastor Feel Good” and the “ Church of We Don’t Expect Much”.
If the church is going to win the war and be true to our Commander in Chief, we have to stay in the trenches when it would be easier to retreat. During the early days of World War 2, Winston Churchill was appalled that British troops who were superior and better equipped were overrun in Singapore. Apparently, the British Empire didn’t mean enough to those soldiers to fight for it. It was easier to surrender. Churchill said, defeat is one thing, disgrace is another.
We live in a time when so called soldiers of the cross are a disgrace to the cross. Like arm chair quarterbacks, they think they are coaches, but they’ve never been a player. No good soldier has to be begged. He is a solider.
Some people want to suck the life of anything that looks like it has a true work of God in it. They will drain life and energy out of you. They will try to take your focus off the prize set before you. If you focus on them, you will falter before you cross the finished line. Reject those who promote low morale. Rejoice with those who believe God for the impossible. Join with those who want to do great things for God.
What happens if and when someone bails out, when a soldier goes AWOL? Stay focused. This is a reality of revival. Many said they were disciples, but they only followed Jesus for the bread. When He headed to the cross, they headed to the cafeteria.
Make the choice to get your daily rations from the Word, strap on the Sword of the Spirit, make sure you have all your spiritual armor on and take the hill. I’m going for the prize. I’m not settling for less than God’s best. I will not be talked out of it. I’ve seen the Captain of the Lord of Hosts. He has come to take control and take over. Some want to die on the wrong side of the Jordan. Not this preacher. How about you? Who will go with me to take what God has promised us? Who will re-enlist today to stay in the fight, carry the flag, and keep the torch burning? This is no time for wimps, it’s time for Warriors. Onward Christian Soldiers!
© Michael Catt, 2005.
Michael served as the President of the Large Church Roundtable, the Southern Baptist Convention as an IMB Trustee, President of the Georgia Baptist Convention’s Preaching Conference, Vice President of the Georgia Baptist Convention, and President of the 2008 Southern Baptist Convention Pastors’ Conference. He has spoken at conferences, colleges, seminaries, rallies, camps, NBA and college chapel services, well as The Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove. Michael is the recipient of The Martin Luther King Award, The MLK Unity Award, and a Georgia Senate Resolution in recognition of his work in the community and in racial reconciliation.
Michael and his wife, Terri, have two grown daughters, Erin and Hayley.