He Is Faithful, When We Are Faithless
The year was 2005. I was a young 19 year-old private first class, in the United States Army. Still wide-eyed and completely naïve to the ways of the world, I thought I knew it all! Fast forward to November of that year, I’m smack dab in the middle of Iraq, having mortar rounds, rockets, and small arms being fired at me! All of a sudden, I didn’t know anything! People are screaming, rounds are flying, there’s potential of sudden death all around us. I’m not scared though. For some reason, I’m fairly calm. I’m ready. I’ve been training for this moment forever! With no regard for myself, I run as fast as I can to check on my battle buddies, who had just gone to the gym. With mortars impacting in the same field I was running in, I finally made it to the gym. Hoping for the best but expecting the worst, I run to the basketball courts outside of the gym. There are all my buddies, staring at me like I’m a wild Comanche. I probably looked a little intense anyway. The mortar rounds I thought were impacting on the court were actually about 300 meters away. The ones that were impacting near me were way more of a threat to me than the ones threatening my battles. We had a good laugh.
Fast forward a little further. It’s now April 17, 2006. I remember the date because it was my twentieth birthday. It started as any typical Army birthday. I got smoked (forced to do pushups, etc.) a little excessively, but hey, it’s the Army! The person conducting my smoke session, Sgt. Bowen, was my squad leader at that time. Afterwards, my battles (buddies) and I had to put up camo netting over our generators to shade them, because the 150-degree Iraq sun was burning them up left and right. As we were staking them down, mortars and rockets start impacting around our shop area. We all fall back into the barrier area of our shop. I was the first to get on the deck of our shop. There I found Sgt. Bowen gushing blood from a head wound. I quickly assessed the situation and came to the conclusion I didn’t want to apply pressure to his wound and take a chance of lodging shrapnel deep into his brain. I immediately jumped off of the deck and ran in the direction of the aid station (medic building). When I got just passed the shop area, there was an intersection. There was an LMTV (big truck) flying in my direction to get out of the “kill zone.” I juked left to avoid the truck, and when I did, another rocket flew in, right over my head! “Waaaaap!!” was the screaming noise the rocket made, as it flew feet over my head. The impact made a kind of slap, sucking noise when it hit the ground. It was a dud. Had it detonated, I probably wouldn’t be typing this right now! I was able to retrieve a medic, and Sgt. Bowen is still alive today.
Through all of that, I never once acknowledged God. I never thanked Him for His wondrous protection and love. I rarely even prayed to Him! So many times, He brought me out of the fire, and so many times I didn’t glorify Him. That is too easy to do in today’s humanistic world. The words of the Apostle Paul in his second letter to Timothy scream at me when I reminisce of those days. “This is a faithful saying: For if we died with Him, we also shall live with Him. If we endure, we shall also reign with Him. If we deny Him, He also will deny us. If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself…” (2 Timothy 2:11-13). We are His even if we don’t recognize it!