My first assignment in the Army was as chaplain to basic trainees at Fort Leonard Wood. One of the events that always pegged the anxiety meter for new Soldiers was Basic Rifle Marksmanship and qualification day. Weapons qualification is a requirement for graduation from Basic Training and Soldiers are required to hit 26 out of 40 targets to qualify. Every time that I visited the range, Soldiers would crowd around me and ask for blessings or prayers. My usual response was a blessing that started, “May the Lord make you like David.” After all, David was a pretty good shot with the sling and stone.
Several years later, in a different assignment, my commander asked me, “You’re not one of those chaplains who can’t pray for us to win, are you?” My answer to that question was – and is – “no.” I do pray for the mission to succeed. How can I participate in something that I can’t ask God to bless?
So to those of you at the tip of the spear today, may the Lord give you the military skill of David … and the wisdom of Solomon, the integrity of Daniel and the vision of Isaiah. Most of all, may he give you the spirit of Jesus Christ.
And when duty requires you to pull that trigger in earnest, bring that to God as well. Even just and necessary combat wounds the conscience of combatants, especially those shaped by the life and teachings of Jesus. His grace is sufficient. Be victorious in combat. Live in Christ. Pray for God’s peace.