I was very calm, I had made peace with God, I was ready to die in the next few moments, and it influenced the way that I fought.  And seeing that spot today, where I washed the blood on the back of the Humvees, and where God gave me the sense of peace, has reminded me that Death really became less significant to me in Somalia. And I wonder if life and death here on earth became less significant because eternity became so much more real to me in Somalia.” –Jeff Struecker 

The sooner a person comes to terms with their mortality, the sooner that person might really begin to live.

How we die is not nearly as important as how we live. Not by a long shot.  The fact of one’s demise matters little compared to one’s life. How that life is lived really determines everything, but fear can hold a person back.

Fear

Tens of thousands of people die everyday—famine, illness, war or pestilence—it doesn’t matter. Death gets everyone of us sooner or later. Better later. Right?

A casual observation of the American culture might suggest that youth is eternal and people never die.

The sooner a person comes to terms with their mortality, the sooner that person might really begin to live.

Think about it.  Fear, especially the  fear of death, holds us back.  It paralyzes.  It’s often not the fear of what is, but the fear of what might be. “I may die.” “I might lose.” Or, “I might fail.” People are afraid of all kinds of things.  The list is endless.  Fear can suck the marrow out of your bones. It robs us of joy, peace, and contentment.

In Mogadishu, Jeff Struecker came to terms with his fears—namely, the fear that he very likely may die and the panic that it triggers. Every soldier knows about that fear. Let’s not kid ourselves by thinking otherwise. However, if we can understand God’s perspective about death, and capture the reality of Christ’s victory over the sting of death in those moments when death aims in our direction, we can go beyond fear and find a miraculous peace that only Christ can give. It’s in those moments with God we can truly begin to live.

Perspective

How would our lives be different if fear did not bind us? How would they be if we lived more boldly, more confidently and unafraid? What things might we accomplish if we lived beyond fear? What might we achieve if we were willing to take the big risk? I’m not saying be foolish or presumptuous. Consider what President Theodore Roosevelt said:

“The credit belongs to the man in the arena whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

Living by our fears is like being that person who knows neither “victory nor defeat” among “those cold and timid souls.” Don’t be that person.

I know your life is a struggle. It’s not easy. Stay in the game. Stay in the fight. Don’t quit. Live boldly. Strive greatly. Take the risk.

Faith

Jeff  did. He put it on all on the line just like soldiers always do. This is mission. This is task and purpose. Soldiers put those things first. Jeff had something else as well; he had faith that Christ had prepared a place for him beyond this life.  He had confidence in God’s plan. Faith makes all the difference. It did for him and it will for you.

Give your fears over to God. Put your life and your future in his hands. God tells you to “fear not” for he is with you. Don’t be dismayed. He is your God and he will help you and he will strengthen you (Isaiah 41:10).

Queen Esther understood what it meant to experience fear. Her story is found in the Old Testament and it’s a hair-­‐raiser.  It seems she was the only one standing between the annihilation of her people and their deliverance. There was a catch. Bringing her concerns about her people to the king might mean her immediate death.

She was the person that God called for such a time as that; and the only person who could intervene. When faced with the option: saving herself or the possibility of losing her life to save her people, she gladly embraced the risk saying, “If I perish, I perish.” So be it. I will do what’s required.

Death is far less significant than life. Choosing life is choosing to live without fear, daring greatly and trusting completely. Esther did and she was the instrument God used to save her people.

God has put each of us here for “such a time as this”, for whatever it is that might be required of us.

Freedom

For Jeff, it was all about the mission and saving his guys. He didn’t flinch, but embraced the risk fully, with faith, expecting his own imminent death. He put his life in the hands of God. God preserved his life and is using him today, but God didn’t have to do that. The dying wasn’t as important as the living. Jeff had already demonstrated that part. He was ready.

Death is never the end, only the beginning. What matters most is how we choose to live, to live without fear with a Christ centered faith. God has called each of us, like he called Joshua, like he called Esther to live courageously, boldly, and fearlessly.

One can only do that with a fearless faith—faith in a living and Almighty God who promises life beyond this life. Can you be that person?

If you are facing a current struggle, and are desiring a fearless faith found alone in Jesus Christ, click below to have the option to talk to one of our Warrior Connectors or Chaplains, or take the next step in your faith journey by accepting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior.

Article completed by: Chaplain, Col.  Dean Bonura, US Army (Ret.) 

Film Producer – Mary Beth Minnis:

A friend’s story brought Mary Beth into the world of documentary filmmaking. What started with a desire to tell her friend’s story, became a true passion for Mary Beth. Striving to bring individual stories of redemption, hope, and truth to the world, she has produced a number of documentary films. Mary Beth is currently an Executive Producer on JUMP SHOT: The Kenny Sailors Story (featuring Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and Dirk Nowitksi) and a Producer on IMPERDONABILE . She also served as an Executive Producer on TOWER, which won the Grand Jury Prize at the 2016 SXSW Film Festival and won the Critics Choice Award for “Most Innovative Documentary;” TOWER was also short-listed for the Academy Awards. In 2016, Mary Beth was an Associate Producer for MAMA RWANDA, directed by Laura Waters Hinson. In 2015, she Associate Produced IMBA MEANS SING which is now available on Netflix Worldwide, and in 2014, she produced RETURN TO MOGADISHU: REMEMBERING BLACK HAWK DOWN. Mary Beth is thrilled to have presented her films to audiences in Jerusalem, Rome, New York City, Los Angeles, Washington D.C., and Austin, among others. While she appreciates the glowing receptions of the films and the international attention they have received, it is the sparking of hope and the beginning of important conversations with life-changing consequences that keeps Mary Beth in the documentary film world.