I wanted to stay home all day for this 4th of July holiday but couldn’t resist our church friends’ invitation to have lunch with them earlier that actually led all the way to dinner. Where there is free food, there I am too! But it turned out a blessing as we have met some church friends there too, who we only get to smile at at the church lobby or parking lot, and some who we did not even realized were also attending the same church. Our church is not that big but we do hold three services on Sundays and it was a fun time to meet those who go to the other services.
One of the new friends we met and had conversations with made sense of what America is celebrating today. He was a Field-Grade Engineer who served the US Military in Iraq for four years and he shared some of his troops’ experiences while they patrol the dark roads in Baghdad at night. I forgot his Military rank or title or however you call it in the Military but he is one of those that sometimes drive the Light Armored Vehicles (LAV). He said, it is lot easier when they patrol during the day when you can see the enemy and the Improvised Explosive Device that they plant on the roads. But when the sun goes down, it’s a whole different story. They wore some night vision gear and thermal vision that makes them see the enemy first before the enemy sees them which is to their advantage during night patrol. The rocky landscape appears green with their night-vision goggles and they see them scattered all over the place, stationed behind the rocks with their guns aimed at them. I had chills listening to this young man as he continued his story on how many times they had to exchange fires against the enemy. He revealed, they have only returned fire, they were never on the offensive side.
I asked him what the things that were running in his mind while shooting back at the enemy, and trying to shield himself from their bullets. Was he fearful? Did he think if he will be able to survive that situation? He answered fast and said, “It’s hard to think what you can or should think while in the middle of a war. All you would know is that you are being fired at and you have to return fire.” He went on to reveal, ” I guess the fear happens when it gets dark and you and your friends prepare to roll out of the camp, out of your safety zones. But I can’t show fear. Not to the enemy certainly. And not to my fellow soldiers. It’s hard to be strong when you are in a battle, but you have to be. It is when I am all alone and when I am away from everybody that I breakdown and cry and thank God for giving me the strength and for protecting me and my friends. I tell him how fearful I am that I might not be able to see my wife and my children again. I have to tell Him because it’s easy to lose you sanity out there. You see lives being taken away, young and old, women and children and its crazy. And there in the quietness of my heart, in the middle of the desert that God renews my strength and restores my soul. The battle belongs to the Lord.”
Wow. What a way to celebrate 4th of July with a first hand story of real events in a war zone. It made me think and ask myself, what are my own fears? Do I tell anyone about them? Are there hidden fears in my heart that I am not telling God? These questions led me to remember the Psalmist desire to be led right;
Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.
I made plans to ask my husband the same questions and when we were home, we prayed for our nation and thanked God for the men and women in uniform who gave and give their lives to serve our country. We also lifted up our own fears and asked God to reveal any hidden fears in our hearts and that we will learn to trust Him moment by moment of our lives. When we tell Him, we experience true freedom and He reassures us of His promise that He is always present…
So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Happy 4th of July America! Happy Independence Day!