It was the first day of basic training. Behind us–two decades of family , community and work relationship memories. Ahead of us–two years of military obligation which none of us wanted. We were, as they said, ‘grunts’, ‘bush-beaters’, ‘foot soldiers’ and ‘infantrymen’. According to the spokesman who met us at Fort Leonardwood, Missouri, we had a NEW father/mother: our Drill Sergeant. And a new family: our fellow draftees. We were told that life was changing for us (duh). Now, he said, we would be told what to eat, when to get up, how to wear what hair would be left after a quick (you think) visit to the barber, what clothes to wear, when to go to the ‘latrine’, what gun to carry, what to do every second of the day, when we would sleep and a host of other restrictive (ooops–training) boundaries. As he continued yelling out his speech (yes they do yell), he stopped to glare at a new recruit who had the unmitigated gall to raise his hand to ask a question. Think of it: someone had a question! Go figure.
Well, without so much as the slightest gesture of common courtesy which to most of us seemed to be a quickly shrinking image in the review mirror of our life, Drill Sergeant told us that from that moment on we would be allowed (whoa) four responses to use in any situation: ‘Yes Sir’, ‘No Sir’, ‘Sir I do not understand’ (that was my default setting) and ‘Sir I do not know’. These were to be utilized, regardless of the setting and regardless of the question. Now possibly you can see where we’re going with this.
To illustrate, Drill Sergeant stepped up ‘nose to nose’ (literally) to a new recruit and in a syrupy condescending tone asked, ‘Soldier do you think I’m pretty?’. There was momentary silence. (Now remember you only have four possible responses). Which one would you have chosen? You see the dilemma? The recruit chose ‘No Sir’…! Now that opened the door to Drill Sergeant’s response. And he gladly burst through it with all the gentleness of an angry Holstein bull with a headache. After a 3 minute tirade, Drill Sergeant walked away shaking his head and muttering something about ‘girls and look at what they’re sending us these days’. 🙂
Now, I have a new commanding officer. One Who is vastly unlike my old ones. Like Paul, I receive the counsel to ‘live to please not ourselves, but our commanding officer’. II Timothy 2:1-4. And though our Lord is infinitely good and all comparisons to men of rank are absurd, I still offer four responses to the Lord of glory. In prayer, I say that by His grace I will serve ‘any way’, ‘any where’, ‘any time’ and to ‘any one’ if by it I may bring gladness to His heart and glory to His Name.
Let’s lift Him up with our responses.