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  • Writer's pictureMarji Stevens

Called A Soldier Before You Are One

Here we are - newly weds. Bill was in Officer's Candidate school at the time. (We were so skinny and check out his red 442 in the background!) He enlisted in the Army in 1967. He was immediately called "soldier", with a rather threatening tone of voice, but he wasn't really a soldier yet. Training had to come first.

Once he enlisted, he was no longer Bill Stevens, he was Private Stevens - they owned him. It was a rude awakening when the hard, grueling, exhaustive, arduous training ensued. According to the army, he was NOT married. During OCS we couldn't talk, visit, even if there was an emergency, because the Army owned him.

I was prompted to read the first chapter of Ephesians this morning and found a notation in the margin of my Bible: we are called soldiers before we act like one.

I kept trying to read on, but the Lord had something special to show me. "He has chosen us . . . before the foundation of the world . . . having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself. . . ."

The key: adoption to Himself. We are not our own. He purchased us through Christ - to belong to Him. That's enough right there to try and digest. If we get a hold of that, deep at our core, I think a lot of things would change. I don't belong to ME.

Before the foundation of the world . . . Suddenly it dawned on me - we are called soldiers of Christ before we became one!

We've been called by the "good pleasure of His will." We were "chosen . . . to be holy and without blame before Him in love" (Eph 1:6)

Listen to the heart of the Father in Ephesians: "Grace to you . . .and peace . . ." We are now children of Love, free of debt or the need to earn anything. All because of the sheer generosity of God.

How freeing - we don't have to earn anything. Jesus did it all. Quite different for my new, soldier-husband. Everything was about earning his place. There was always the treat of severe punishment if he didn't comply. The military training in the sixties was harsh - often cruel.

In the margin of my Bible was another notation regarding the Hebrew for peace: His promise for our highest good, total well-being, to bind together that which was separated.

The Army was brutal - but it was for the soldier's highest good. It was meant to keep him alive through the battle. We are soldiers, too. Jesus removed the separation between us and our Heavenly Father. Now our training is done in love, and according to the good pleasure of a good, good God.

Personal note: Fortunately, Bill never was sent into the fires of Vietnam. He retired from the military as a 1st Lt, and a company commander. It seems like yesterday I had my arms around this handsome soldier. This memory is a special gift from the Lord as I approach the tenth anniversary of Bill's death.

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