Not in My Strength - The Warrior's Journey®

Virginia Guard chaplain support teams support military personnel in Louisiana. Photo by Coast Guard is licensed under CC By 2.0

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

To simply call Christianity a religion is to completely misunderstand it. True Christianity is about a relationship — relationship with God through His Son Jesus Christ. Following Jesus begins with believing that He came to save the world. Through His death on the cross, He paid the penalty for our sins — past, present and future.

Although God created the world and everything in it and He loves us unconditionally, He doesn’t force us to believe in Him or serve Him. He gives every person a free will. Though Christ’s death at Calvary and His resurrection almost 2,000 years ago were for all people, God leaves the choice to us as to whether we will accept Christ as Savior. The choice is ours. But we are not free from the consequences of our choice.

John 3:16, the verse quoted above, states a wonderful truth. Believing in Jesus gives us access into eternal life with God. Two verses down in the same passage, Jesus speaks these sobering words:

Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. (John 3:18)

Ironically, many people do not realize how straightforwardly Scripture states the need for salvation through Jesus. The Bible also speaks clearly about the distinction between believers and nonbelievers concerning where they will spend eternity. I’m even talking about people who go to church regularly.

I will use myself as a good example. I wasn’t much a churchgoer for the first 24 years of my life. Even when I did go to church, I don’t remember hearing the need for salvation expressed in any of the preaching.

A Christian minister asked me a straightforward question during a premarital counseling session: “Scott, do you know Jesus Christ as your personal Savior?”

My response? I was absolutely clueless and asked the minister to explain. He did, and two days later I committed my life to Christ. I have never looked back.

Am I the only one who just didn’t get it? Unfortunately, there are many in our world who don’t yet understand Jesus’ offer of salvation. It’s imperative for someone to tell them. I’m so grateful that the minister took an interest in me and in where I will spend eternity. Since that time, I’ve tried to spread the message to others.

In the fall of 1989, I was stationed in Seoul, Korea, for a 2-year tour. Fortunately, my family was there with me. I was serving as the pastor for Hannam Village, the largest U.S. government housing area in Korea with a population approaching 4,500 military personnel and their families. One day I was working out at the gym on main post and met a senior noncommissioned officer named Frank Miller who was also working out. We struck up a conversation, and I learned he had spent a lot of time in Vietnam as a member of Special Forces.

Over the next few months we would see each other frequently at the gym. As we got to know one another better, I felt comfortable in asking him about his faith. He mentioned that he had been raised in the Far East and had a faith that was a blend of several major religions. He made it clear from the beginning that he was very comfortable with his religion and that if he ever wanted help he’d let me know.

Bottom line: He really didn’t want to talk about it. I understood, but still made an effort to continue our friendship.

Several months went by. One Friday night while I was conducting a wedding rehearsal at Hannam Village Chapel, my chaplain assistant interrupted the rehearsal to tell me a man was on the phone who really needed some help. The assistant persuaded me to take the call. It was Frank Miller, and he was crying and very distraught. I made arrangements to meet him in about 2 hours at a 24-hour snack bar on main post.

I met Frank at the snack bar, and he explained the situation. His wife was leaving him and would not be dissuaded. She lived in Hawaii at the time. He told me he had never encountered such a challenge. He had served 4 years in Vietnam with Special Forces and had been wounded several times, but somehow had survived. Now he faced a situation that left him feeling powerless.

“I don’t have anything in my arsenal to cope with my marriage falling apart,” he said to me. “Can you help me?”

I told Frank that I knew Someone who could help. I spoke to Frank about Jesus. Although Frank previously was not open to hearing about spiritual matters, now he was desperate and listened to every word. I explained what Jesus had done for him and how Jesus loved him unconditionally. I told Frank that Jesus wanted a relationship with him and what Frank could do to enter into a relationship.

Despite dozens of other people seated at surrounding tables, Frank expressed a strong desire to pray and ask Jesus into his life. I led Frank in prayer. At the conclusion Frank became a Christian, and he knew it. His countenance changed dramatically, and it was easy to tell that God had lifted a huge burden from Frank.

Some military people think they don’t need God and that they are strong enough to stand on their own. Frank Miller thought that for a long time. Humanly speaking, Frank could justify his self-dependence more than most. He was the winner of the Congressional Medal of Honor for his bravery in Vietnam.

But even this war hero finally saw that he was not strong enough to stand without the Lord. How about you?

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