Things Are True
by Dan Coburn
Pastor, Emmanuel Baptist Church
You can probably imagine the scene; the otherwise blackness of night is relentlessly interrupted by the blinding flashes of enemy artillery. In a small clump of trees, in a tattered tent some men huddle around a dimly lit table covered with a hand drawn map. Present are a General, a Colonel, two Captains, and a hand full of enlisted men. This battle will almost certainly be the turning point of the war, and the outcome literally rests in the hands of these men. The General began: “Ben, you take your troops over that rise and down to the river”. “Yes sir” the Captain replied. “Bill, you lead the whole 38th battalion over that hill, and up to the left”. “Yes sir”, the Captain replied. “I’ll take the balance of the men and head right up the valley. They will be looking for me, and when they begin to key in on me, that will take some of the heat off you, and perhaps we can surprise them”.
After what was a deafening silence, one of the non-coms could no longer contain himself and cried out “but sir, you could be killed”. The General turned to face his men and with a stern face, he asked them “gentlemen, why are we here? Our goal is to win this war–and if my death helps to bring that about, then so be it. My philosophy with respect to this battle, gentlemen, is simply this: Whatever it Takes!”.
At daybreak the battle began. The General, as promised, took his men right up the valley. When the enemy saw this, they assumed it to be the bulk of the attack and hit it with every thing they had. The General was almost immediately killed. The other two forces flanked the enemy and absolutely decimated them. They subsequently surrendered, the war was turned in our favor, and soon over. On a beautiful white stone in Arlington Cemetery, you can find these three incredible words beneath the name of General Johnson. Whatever it Takes.
Let’s turn the Spiritual Switch. Two thousand years earlier, at a place called Gethsemane, another man was receiving His battle orders. This war had been raging since eternity past, and what was about to happen would effect the eternal destiny of numberless people. You can see Him there kneeling in prayer, agonizing till great drops of blood formed on His brow, then fell to the ground. Can you hear Him? “Father, if it be possible, take this cup from me, nevertheless—Whatever it Takes”. The apostle Paul cries out to us from Phil. Chapter 2, and says “let this mind also be in you, which was in Christ Jesus”. Whatever it Takes.
Now I’m going to get as political as I ever will in this column. My wife and I were in the airport in Denver a few years back, and between flights, in a food court, I observed four young men and one woman in army camo, gather their food and sit down. The biggest one bowed his head to give thanks for his food. The Holy Spirit told me to go over and give them a word of encouragement. He does that from time to time. I walked over and sat down in front of him. His reaction is what was striking to me. He became very guarded and defensive even though I hadn’t said a word. Then it hit me. What he was expecting, perhaps what he was used to, was criticism. I spoke to him: “You do what you need to to keep yourself and your people safe. We’ll sort it out later. Whatever happens, I’m behind you and I want you to know there is a little Church in Cottonwood, Idaho that is praying for you”. All apprehension left his face. He began to cry, and we hugged. Right there in front of everybody.
I used to think the military was for dropouts and people who couldn’t make it in the real world. I have a son who is 21 year Navy. I tried to talk him out of going. I was never so wrong about anything in my life. My son has grown into more of a man, and more of a person than I ever hoped. You can’t get in if you have a criminal record. Our military consists of the brightest and best.
I scanned a book called “The Greatest Generation”. It’s about the WW2 effort, and I agree for the most part. No one questions the motivation of WW2 Vets, nor should they. Still, please hear my heart as I write this through tears. Soldiers go proudly off to battle today, for the very same reason their fathers and grandfathers did. Cause their country asked them to. Men went off to Vietnam for the same reason. Their country asked them to. And so it is with every subsequent battle, war or conflict. Please put your politics aside this day and purpose in your heart not to let an opportunity pass you by to thank a Veteran, regardless of what generation he or she is from. Tell them you are behind them, Whatever it Takes.