Friday, September 25, 2015


Two young Christian men in my life in are joining the armed forces.  There’s all this talk about PT (Physical Training), boot camp, and the rewards of having someone else pay for your education.  And tears.  There are a lot of tears.

Why?  Their proud parents and grandparents have a bone deep understanding that their boys are signing up for something tough. Soldiers serve their country to the best of their ability and stand strong in the face of danger.  They learn how to push themselves, how to be a member of a team and how to submit to authority.  They can come home with mental scars, missing limbs, or in a box. 

When they sign their name on the paper, they sign up for all of it.  The good and the bad.

It’s a metaphor that’s meant a lot to me lately.  I’ve been struggling with the idea of Christian suffering.  Both in the minor sense as in the proverb: “No good deed goes unpunished.”  And in the much larger sense of people who are jailed, beaten, and killed because of good work that they are trying to do. 

And I keep coming around to the conclusion that it’s what we signed up for. 

There are metaphors that we appreciate for our Christian life.  Like the family metaphor. To be called a child of God Almighty is a powerful and comforting thing.  He protects and guards me.  I am a princess and heir with Christ Jesus.  I am adopted, cherished, chosen, called and beloved.  

That’s as awesome as it is true. 

However, equally true is the metaphor of a solider.  Paul tells Timothy: 

Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier. (2 Timothy 2: 3-4)

The young men I know expect hardship.  They are exchanging playing X-Box till 4am for 4am forced marches with weighted backpacks.  There may not be anything wrong with surfing Facebook or playing on their iPhones but they’ll be giving it up for a while because it’s time to disentangle themselves from everyday life and serve.  

As Christians we too should expect hardship.  We committed our whole lives to Jesus Christ.  We made ourselves living sacrifices (another metaphor that’s hard to swallow). We decided that our days of living for ourselves (not mention our sin and selfishness) were done.  We said we would take up our cross and follow our Savior. 

Like an army during peacetime, we may be soldiers who are not fully aware of what we’re signing up for.  Not that the recruiters aren’t honest.  The Bible teachers who recruited us knew there that there could be fighting, even dying involved.  Jesus also told us so. “Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple”(Luke 14:27). But my boys don’t know any soldiers who have lost their lives personally, and I don’t know any Christians who’ve died for their faith either.  We can smile, nod our head, but we don’t FEEL the implications.

But we signed up for them. 

Whether I suffer some small blip in my life (say I spend an extra hour listening to a lonely little old lady talk on a really busy day, and therefore at 9:00 pm I am still trying to get the day’s chores done) or whether someday I am sitting on a bus facing a terrorist who promises to shoot me if I claim to be a Christian, I have nothing to complain about. 

I signed up for it. 



  1. wonderful analogy Helene, and thank you to those two young men for giving it all. This is a post to chew on today.

  2. Excellent points, bringing to mind Peter's words: Think it not strange . . .

  3. Sincere prayers and blessings to your two young soldiers. I have a great respect and admiration for all military men, women and family members. There is much in scripture that compares the Christian with the soldier, and you've introduced some great points here, Helene. I recently found a little book that was given to my dad back in the early 50s when he entered the military; Strength for Service to God and Country. It's an inspiring read. Have a blessed week!

  4. Excellent perspective. Paul told the truth about the Christian life in his epistles. Jesus promises to be with us--but we may have any number of difficulties to face. I am visiting from Good Morning Mondays. Blessings!

  5. Wow! Great point! We are called to be soldiers of Christ, but I've never thought about it from this perspective before.

  6. This is such a great mindset to have! I love how you said "It's what we signed up for." So true, and I have to remind myself of this often. Thanks so much for sharing at the Artful Homemaking link-up!