Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Boot Camp

Dear Lord, will you do to me today and everyday what needs to be done in order to make me the man you want me to be?

Not everyone recruited to be a Marine becomes a Marine. Some of those recruits who want the glory are not willing to pay the price. Nobody is born to be a Marine. Even the best of the best must die to their need for comfort, and die to their need to go it alone, in order to become a Marine. Quite often, the High School football star washes out while the High School misfit finds a way to endure through the training in order to get to the end of boot camp and become a Marine.

Marriage is a boot camp for the Kingdom of Heaven. Most everyone wants the bliss of a good marriage, but not everyone is willing to pay the price. Committing to another person of the opposite sex for the rest of our lives would be so much easier if the commitment wasn’t to a person of the opposite sex. Raising children to be responsible adults and mature Christians would be so much easier if our children were not our own offspring and so much like ourselves.

We may have a hormone induced attraction to the opposite sex, but we have nothing but our will and our values to sustain us during the times we desire more comfort, more self, and less commitment. Rarely do second, third, or fourth marriages work any better than first marriages. The ex-married tend to blame their partner instead of the institution; when it is really the institution more than the partner that makes marriage difficult. Each partner must die to themselves in order to become the person God wants them to be. Dieing to ourselves is much easier when our partner has something to offer in return, but dieing to ourselves is much more important when our partner is irritating and difficult and has nothing to offer in return.

My children have been a mirror into my heart and my soul. They have allowed me to see myself as others see me and it’s not always pretty. Since my girls exhibit some of my behavior, I can now see how my temper and focus, and my drive for perfection, that I have always considered positive attributes also have a very dark side and are a cause of difficulty in my marriage and my other relationships.

I probably still have a long way to go before my boot camp ends, but I am committed to endure until the end and become the man God wants me to be in HIS Kingdom.

8 comments:

Hammertime said...

Excellent metaphors, David...and very well said.

pete porter said...

David,
Another excellent post. My experience with marriage wasn't at all what I hoped for, it ended in divorce. I can't asign blame to her either, as the saying goes, it takes two. Speaking of sayings,"It's easier to die for a cause, than to live for it". I don't know if that is true, but it is an interesting concept.
Pete

Steve said...

Well said, David. My children have done the same for me. Peace!

Jennifer said...

That is my prayer as a mother, as well.

Anonymous said...

Your humility and thoughtfulness are to be commended and will only enable you to be a better husband, father, and the man God wants you to be!!!

Buz said...

David,

I am not sure what to make of all this ...

I think we need a boot camp for the Christian life, but not for Heaven. Boot camp, as I understand it is to prepare us for the rigors of war. Heaven is not the war, it is the victory.

If you think that your marriage is a boot camp, you must have a really challenging marriage. I have never been in boot camp, but I have been married for over 30 years. And for most all of that time, my marriage has been my safe haven ... the place of comfort when the world has been overwhelming. Yes we have had struggles, but, thankfully, most of them have been us against our circumstances, not us against each other. Our circumstances have not been easy, but they have served to bring us closer to each other ... at times it feels like we are standing back-to-back, fighting the rest of the world. There is no one else I would rather have protecting my back than my wife, and no one else who would do it so tenaciously or faithfully.

Buz

David M. Smith said...

Hi Buz,

When I write “Kingdom of Heaven”, I mean belonging to God and becoming what he created me to be. I’m not differentiating between this side of life and the other side of life. I believe there is an element of what happens on this side that prepares us for the other side, but I just don’t know for sure. I don’t know that I would describe the other side as the victory either, since the outcome is predetermined. When I refer to marriage as a boot camp, I am referring to marriage as a small environment of spouse and children that prepares us for the other relationships in the world, similar to how boot camp prepares recruits for the skills they need as soldiers.

I don’t consider my marriage to be particularly challenging. I consider it to be pretty normal. Since half of all marriages, even Christian marriages, end in divorce, most married couples have their challenges. It has been my experience from observing and talking to older couples that they all had a time when they wanted to leave, but they kept their commitment and managed to make it work. Some even ended up with all of the Bliss they desired. Do you believe your marriage is the norm?

I would describe what you are going through now [I will keep this private unless Buz wants to share] as a Kingdom of Heaven boot camp as well. I know you are better prepared to empathize and help others as a result of your challenge.

Even though I have four sisters, I can see where I needed to learn and understand more about females than I did before I was married. I can also see where my wife needed to understand more about males. I can only conclude God intended my family to prepare me for what he wants me to be and what he wants me to do. I see the same in other families as well. Your preparation may be different.

Buz said...

OK ... I understand a bit better what you mean.

I think that the sole purpose of this life is to mold us into the likeness of Jesus. There was a time when we (mankind) had that likeness, and we lost it. Now, for those who believe, that seed has been replanted in our hearts, by that lazy farmer, I guess (-;. And, that seed is growing. In some hearts the seed grows better than in others. Eventually, if/when the flower blooms, it will be the likeness of Christ in our lives. Whether you wish to call it "boot-camp" or "busting up the clumps of soil" or whatever, God's purpose and desire is to restore that which we have lost. It is a lot easier to grow a field of foxtail and thistle than it is a garden of prize-winning roses. And if the soil is poor, sometimes you have to dump a whole load of ... um ... fertilizer ... on the roses to get them to grow. Despite that old saying, "fertilizer" doesn't just happen. It is carefully placed around the plants (Luke 13:8) so that they will grow and bear fruit. Sometimes when things get tough, when I feel like I am having a load of "fertilizer" dumped on me, I wonder if I am being strengthened because God has wonderful plans for me and I must be up to the task, or if I am a poor, unproductive tree, and God is trying to help me grow or getting ready to rip me out by the roots!

I didn't think they were supposed to use "live" ammo in boot camp!

Buz