It is not a long stretch to relate missions to the military life. Military mottos taken from around the world can apply and fit the zeal of a Missionary: “To Liberate the Oppressed.” “Who Dares, Wins.” “So Others May Live.” “Always Dominate the Heights.” "The only easy day was yesterday." “By Strength and Guile.” And my unofficial favorite, “When circumstance closes a door, breach the wall and walk in like a Boss.”
We are told by others that we are “elite” and on the “front lines.” We are treated like heroes in Missions conventions. These are good things, as they encourage us as we strive to accomplish the expectations and live up to the ideals of the title. But consider these two quotes for a little bit of levity:
“There is many a boy here today who looks on war as all glory, but, boys, it is all hell.” General William Tecumseh Sherman
"The most important qualification of a soldier is fortitude under fatigue and privation. Courage is only second; hardship, poverty and want are the best school for a soldier." General Napoleon Bonaparte
"Build me a son, Oh Lord, who will be strong enough to know when he is weak, and brave enough to face himself when he is afraid, one who will be proud and unbending in honest defeat, and humble and gentle in victory." General Douglas MacArthur
I have found that saying “Yes” to God’s call to serve in missions has led me to some strange proving grounds. Crawling under barbed-wire in the mud with live rounds above you? I could find a missionary metaphor for that, and other things, like running up hills till you want to throw up breakfast and eating bugs for lunch. See how it fits? However, what has shocked me is how God reaches way, way back into our lives and salvages the skills we would choose to forget, skills we learned living in a broken world in a broken system.
What is that terrible skill you have? I learned at a young age to walk quietly and steadily through emotionally overloaded environments, maybe not seeing God in the situation, but knowing He had my back. I also learned perseverance while carrying a full pack through a religious swamp of conditional love, and refusing to give up because the God who slogged with me never left.
Let us not despise the days of our youth, but see God’s hand in our strivings, salvaging our earlier testings and conditioning our spirits for the days when we have to breach the walls for the Kingdom of God and set the captives free. And always remember these words:
"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again. Who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause. Who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat." Theodore Roosevelt
And I leave you with one more quote for all of you media-minded sorts: "Karate is a form of martial arts in which people who have had years of training can, using only their hands and feet, make some of the worst movies in the history of the world." Dave Barry