By: Sandra Hastings
His feet bleeding from open blisters, and his hands and legs cramping almost beyond endurance, a young man reached the end of a three-day, 65-mile march. He carried 125 pounds of gear, slept no more than four hours a night, and had just enough food for two and a half meals. He had struggled his way through all kinds of obstacles both day and night. Yet, he had one more major challenge: to climb the rugged mountain in front of him.
He forced his mind to ignore the pain and focus on the goal, whispered a prayer to his Lord, and with all his remaining strength, began to climb. His body was pushed to the breaking point, yet still he climbed. At last, he reached the top and the moment he had been waiting for arrived. He had made it through the crucible.
The crucible is the last test a recruit must pass in Marine boot camp. It tests him physically, mentally and morally. The young recruits learn quickly that they must rely on one another to solve the problems and overcome the obstacles they are faced with. No one gets through it alone. Although at times it seems impossible to go on, the anticipation of the reward compels them forward.
At the top of the mountain, their drill instructor awaits them. Upon arrival, he presents these young recruits with their Marine Corps insignia – eagle, globe, and anchor; then shakes their hands and for the first time addresses them as Marines. Our grandson experienced this November 5, 2010, and as his drill instructor shook his hand he said, “I’m proud of you Wilkenson.” I’m not sure there are any words to describe the emotion our grandson felt at that moment, but this is one ceremony that moves even Marines to tears.
At times, we as God’s children can feel like we are in a spiritual crucible. The attacks of our enemy are vicious and brutal, often coming without warning. The journey seems long and full of obstacles and problems that we can’t deal with alone. Although we know our Lord has promised to be with us and to never give us more than we can bear, like these young recruits, we feel pushed beyond our limits.
The Marine Corps is turning young, inexperienced, undisciplined men and women into Marines. This is no easy task. It involves problems, challenges, pain, suffering, deprivation, and change. It takes determination and commitment on the part of the recruit to stick it out. The goal set before him, motivates him to continue. He wants to be a Marine.
Our Lord is conforming us to His image (Romans 8:28-29). This too involves problems, challenges, pain, suffering, loss, and many changes throughout our life. Commitment and discipline are required if we are to finish the course our Lord has set before us. We must yield our will to His, and in submissive obedience follow our Commander, just like those young recruits.
Our reward, however, will be much greater than receiving the Marine Insignia. We will receive crowns of glory from the nail-scarred hands of Jesus Christ, our Savior. The emotion in the young recruit as he heard his drill sergeant say he was proud of him was overwhelming. But can you imagine how we will feel when we stand face to face with Jesus and hear Him say, “Well done thou good and faithful servant”? (Matthew 25:21,23)
We have one gigantic advantage over these young recruits. Our Commander is Almighty God and He goes with us giving us strength, guidance, and comfort on our journey. Therefore, let us determine with joy and anticipation even as Paul did, to press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:14). We can do it!
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13