Friday, May 6, 2011

(This is a serious and deep post, so turn the music down )

If you have read my blog for any
length of time, you know I love a good read, a good deep thinking post, maybe even a debate.  BUT normally I keep anything political or religious off the blog.  So I am warning you, if you don’t like that, skip this post.

This post is written by one of my favorite people on earth. I feel like you need a little history so this will be long and you may want to read it in parts. Mike  is a young man that became friends with my family twenty years ago and since that time I have considered him family. He and Greg are close in age and he spent lots of time at our house for years.   He is one of those few people in life that would do absolutely anything for you. 
When Jack had his stroke and I was a little more than scared in the ER at Baylor, I got a text from him (he lives in California) that he would be on the next plane if I needed him.  He is the same guy that when my Dad was near death and I was so afraid that he had never ask Jesus into his heart (or whatever your denomination calls it).  Mike got in his car drove hours to a hospital in Texarkana.  I can still remember looking down the hall and seeing this handsome Marine coming down the hall on a mission.  I’ll save that story for another day….but it’s the one and only time in my life I ever heard my Dad pray. 

Mike and I have spent many hours discussing and solving the worlds problems.  Fast forward a few years and God sent him the perfect lady….and now they have 3 sweet kiddo’s.
He is a Marine helicopter pilot, which has taken him all over the world.  He is the BEST of the BEST.  Anyway this whole post came about because I emailed him and ask him his thoughts on Sunday nights news plus I wanted to know more about NAVY SEALS.  So below are his thoughts and they may only be for me, but I am going to share them…..because that’s what I do…SHARE…Ha
Mike and family
And so I give you Mike…and the crazy thing is he probably did not have to retype one line…It just flowed…This was the note I got from him….

Ms. Teresa,
I put these thoughts down.  They aren't earth shattering.  I mulled these things starting on Monday morning when the death of bin Laden hadn't changed the long TSA lines at the airport when I checked in.  I'm in Pensacola doing some training for three weeks.  So I get to miss another Mother's Day thanks to the Corps.  But, it's the life I've chosen and Melissa graciously allows me to do what I love...for now.
Love you and miss you guys,

Sunday May 1st was my brother’s 31st birthday. Neither he nor my mother fared well immediately after his birth and both nearly died; her from dry toxemia, him two months premature. My mother’s favorite uncle died in a car crash earlier that morning compounding the emotions. So May 1980 was an interesting month: Mount St. Helens would blow her top eventually, and just days previous on April 24th, the Iranian hostage rescue would end in disaster in the eastern desert of Iran after the mission was aborted by Presidential executive order. Ironically enough, the Ayatollah would gain significant support citing what he believed was divine intervention on behalf of Islam for the mission’s failure.

Each May 1st I’m always very thankful to God for the lives of both my mother and brother who are so dear to me, and I recall with vivid memory the events of that month. Last Sunday marked another rather, some would say, extraordinary event. I was leading a bible study for Marines and their families as we do nearly every Sunday evening. As we started to dismiss, cell phones were blowing up with text messages that U/Osama bin Laden had been killed. Smiles and snickers broke out, “Can you believe that?”

I watched the news when I got home to get the always flawed first reports—if you haven’t caught on to that trend by now take my advice: first reports are  never accurate.

I didn’t have a huge flood of emotions about it. I had a lot of thoughts on it though in the days since. It was humane and within the law to allow room for capture in case of his surrender. Though I’m not sure that if I was the first Seal into the room that I wouldn’t have shot him a little closer to right between the eyes than he did—whether bin Laden was begging for mercy or not.
I’m pretty sure the thoughts that would have gone through my mind entering that compound would have been the memories of men and women holding hands while jumping to their deaths out of the World Trade Center inferno on 9/11. 
Some will certainly proclaim divine intervention in finally bringing him to justice: it happened, it must have been the Lord’s will. I would tend to agree.

It hasn’t been said yet, but I’m waiting for someone to say--now that reports are indicating he wasn’t armed and was killed in front of his wife and children--why couldn’t it have been handled differently?

It’s a great question—for someone who was born yesterday. You don’t send in Goldilocks to catch the big bad wolf. When you want to know someone is dead, on foreign territory, and need to travel there without anyone’s permission and really care about the consequences of failure, you send the Navy Seals.
After so many of our Americans are dead, what’s one more life to insure the just death of bin Laden is certain?

Briefly, I’d point you to the myriad of documentaries available on the Discovery or Military Channels to fully understand what these men go through to become a Navy Seal. You don’t just wake up one day after high school and say “I want to be a Seal.” That’s not how it works. You enlist in the Navy (or are commissioned as an Officer) and have a “normal” job: electrician, linguistics, intelligence, corpsman, something, anything. But then you get screened for it, meet some minimum (and I do mean minimum) physical requirement. Then you spend the next 18 months having your life stripped away, mostly just reprogramming your mind. Most of us could do a lot more with our lives than we do, our mind just gets in the way and says it can’t be done. Seals learn to turn their mind off when their body shouts “Quit!!”

A very scant version of this mind over body exercise is seen on Biggest Loser. The acid trip version of Biggest Loser is of course Seal training. There’s nothing like it in the world, thus, there’s no one like them in the world. Ordinary men trained to do extraordinary missions. They are King David’s 30 warriors, the elite. They are the cherubim who guard the Garden of Eden. That’s the level these guys are on. They don’t fear anything. They do bleed and they do die, but fortunately, not on this mission.

Then there is the hullabaloo over the Pakistanis not knowing he was in their country.
We Americans have such bad memories and when we do remember, we think everyone else thinks like we do. With all our technology, we can’t keep out poor Mexicans looking for a better life in our own country!!
How many serial killers or felons have kept kidnapped individuals in plain sight? Pakistan is not a closed country. They have no idea who comes and goes through their borders unless they are on a plane with a passport.
I could go to Pakistan and hide out for 10 years and no one would ever know, and I’m white as a sheet!! I can go a long way in Pakistan with no deodorant, a beard, brown shoe polish and some clothes dragged through the dirt. Give bin Laden credit. He kept us crawling over mountains and dropping bunker-buster bombs in caves for 10 long years.
He wasn’t stupid, he was brilliant, charismatic, and ideologically committed—which is something Christians could stand to be more of, ideologically committed.

As a Marine, I honestly was glad that he had received his justice on earth and was headed to his eternal reward. But I took an oath; I solemnly swore to defend the Constitution of the United States, against all enemies, foreign and domestic. I bear true faith and allegiance to the same. I took that obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion in April 2001. I continue to well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office to which appointed. So help me, God. And because I took an oath, bin Laden falls into the category of just another enemy. One less to deal with. And on some level most all Marines see him the same way.

But as a Christian man, I’m a bit troubled. I trust in the sovereignty of God. Totally. I know some who would advocate that He created the world, and then left it to itself. I’m not there. The other end of the pendulum is that God sits up there like a galactic genie in a bottle waiting to fill my every desire. I’m not there either.
I think most of us look back as ask why did this happen.
Bin Laden has become a footnote in the last 10 years, but the mayhem he inspired has us all looking around asking what in God’s name is going on.
On some level, you have to believe God’s hand is in all of this. I mean, what kind of all powerful God do I serve if His PERFECT will is not accomplished every second of every minute of every day?
If He’s not capable of executing His perfect will, I’m not sure I want in on Christianity.
I need to have the security of knowing nothing happens without His express permission.
If you teach your kids the song, “He’s got the whole world in His hands,” how do you explain all of this?

Why did my buddies get shot down in Iraq and burn up in a ball of fire the day after I flew by the same exact spot? Why do good things happen bad people? Why do the wicked seem to not suffer in this life? The answer to all these questions is simple: I don’t know.

And any other theologian worth his/her salt will tell you the same thing. The scripture says “It is the glory of God to conceal a matter.” I know some of us have sat in church meetings where charts were displayed and charismatic leaders have voiced “God said” x, y or z was going to happen.
They point definitively to some month or feast at which point Christ will return, turn on the vacuum cleaner and suck all the believers out of here since those who love Him are far too precious to suffer tribulation. It just begs the questions “What is suffering? What is tribulation?”

Persecuted for their faith some will say. But this can’t be it, for that has been the case since Christ walked the earth. If He didn’t come back for believers boiled in oil or torn apart by wild beasts in coliseums, who am I?

What could I possibly do to merit being saved from a horrible death? If I’m a true believer, hasn’t He already saved me from the worst death imaginable, death leading to eternal damnation?

While bin Laden was certainly demonically inspired, “Satan’s blind slave” (John Newton of Amazing Grace fame), as a Christian I must evaluate why I am glad for the death of any man, unjust or not. Suffice it to say, without judgment there is no mercy.
The word “gospel” (evangel) literally means good news. What is the good news? That though we were slaves to sin (2 Peter 6:17), God rescued us. Christians like to think we have choices in our destiny, that we chose Him. I’ve come to find out that’s not true.

I’m not sure how many wreathes can be laid at various sites to heal wounds, quell violent memories. If I could, I’d lay a wreath around my head every time I lay down at night, try to keep my hands from a cold sweat when I think about what it must have been like to die a violent death like my buddies did.
The mental gymnastics my mind goes through trying to wrap my mind around the anatomy of an IED blast, or the inferno of a helicopter engulfed in flames in flight makes my throat tight and my head pound.

There’s a very good reason Paul calls us to cast down every thought that exalts itself above the knowledge of God. Our mind is at enmity with Him. It’s hard to let go sometimes.

It’s hard to accept reality. It’s hard to accept that God really is in control, but it’s apparent we aren’t. We lie to ourselves and think that healing means forgetting and thus miss out on a lot of peace.

No doubt, there are certain people in this country that needed bin Laden to die to have closure. I have for years wondered if we had captured him already, waiting for a political moment to spring it.
But this moment was bigger than politics. What mattered is that we got it right. And President Obama did. Chapter One of the 9/11 story closed.

The problem is that we still have to live with the scars that the death of this man won’t erase.
I marvel at how the death of one man is so glorified as just, when so many died innocently in rather obscurity, but whose lives were infinitely more precious. And life will go on. Unfortunately, not well for those who have lost loved ones in planes or towers.
Or the war following. Some will never move on, instead trying to memorialize the lives of past loved ones. Oh that they would find peace in the death of Christ which points so magnificently to the resurrecting life that swallowed up the grave. For that is THE ultimate hope of all who call upon the name of the Lord for salvation.
It is only in embracing His death that we really have life and drop all fear of losing our own, however tragically it may be snuffed out. It is these times that point us to regard our lives here as aliens, longing for that completed work when sin no longer ravages our lives.

“Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last, and the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades.” Revelation 1:17-20.
Even so Lord Jesus, come quickly.

That’s just one of the reasons I love him.  He makes me THINK.


Sunday, May 1, 2011