Jesus Like the Marines
“Oh, God…” It’s what recruits say after their first step off the bus and onto the yellow footprints. It’s what the team says when they hear the codeword and the mission is a “go.” It’s the opening of a prayer and the beginning of praise. It’s a formal address to those who believe in a Father in heaven who delights in the fellowship of man.
But it’s also what we say after a terrifying realization–a career ending mistake, a life threatening act. In these moments, the lungs become vacant and normal human desires–hunger, thirst, and rest–are replaced by a single, overpowering need: for things to be made right again.
What have I done? How could I have thought those things? How could I have been so…..How can I make things right?
One of the most poignant “Oh, God” moments occurrs in the book of 2 Samuel. The prophet Nathan confronts King David about the murder of Uriah, one of his own soldiers. King David’s desire for Uriah’s wife blinded him to the will of God and drove him to do the unthinkable.
Nathan told David a story about one man who was rich and one who was poor:
“One day a guest arrived at the home of the rich man. But instead of killing an animal from his own flock or herd, he took the poor man’s lamb and killed it and prepared it for his guest.”
David becomes furious at the rich man saying that he not only must repay the poor man, but that the rich man deserves to die! Nathan allows David to acknowledge the full gravity of the injustice before revealing to him: “You are that man!”
Could this be what David thought before admitting his guilt and confessing, “I have sinned against the Lord?” We have all experienced what David felt:
- Oh, God, why didn’t I do something?
- Oh, God, why didn’t I say something?
- Oh, God, what if I’m right?
- Oh, God, what if I’m wrong?
What if I’m wrong?
Author and apologist Ravi Zacharias writes about the last moments of Joseph Stalin in his book Has Christianity Failed You?:
“Stalin logically deduced that if there were no God, man became God, and rather than allow Western capitalism to define man, he would make certain it would be Russian-style Communism (according to his interpretation) that would do the defining. Stalin’s last gesture before he died was to shake a clenched fist toward the heavens as he hallucinated and then fall back on his pillow.”1
Whether Stalin’s fist was clinched in the tragedy of regret or in furious rage, his last gesture on earth was aimed at the heavens toward a God he was certain did not exist until the arrival of his own divine appointment.
Oh, God, what if I have been wrong?
I had my own “Oh, God” moment one night years ago, when my own (unrecognized) atheistic worldview was challenged by the delicate questions of a loving wife. That moment forced me to utter those two frightening words and eventually ask, “What if I have been wrong all this time? What if God exists?”
It’s amazing how much your world can change when you’re willing to change your mind. But most aversions to God are not caused not by the mind, but by the heart. Changing your mind means changing your life. Most of us would rather not have to change our bathroom routine, let alone take on a new lifestyle consistent with newly discovered truths.
Jesus, like the Marines, doesn’t promise a rose garden.
Jesus, like the Marines, promises hardship.
Jesus, like the Marines, guarantees suffering.
But Jesus, like the Marines, will give you a new life with meaning, purpose, and the promise of peace in eternity. When this happens, those two words spoken so often in terror become words of comfort once again, and the beginning of all your thanksgivings.
1Ravi Zacharias, Has Christianity Failed You? (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2010), Kindle ed., loc. 1917.
Photo by Sgt Walter D. Marino II, http://www.marines.mil/Photos.aspx?igphoto=2000938100
About Jason B. Ladd
Jason is an author, speaker, Marine, and father of seven. He has flown the F/A-18 Hornet as a Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron 1 (MAWTS-1) Instructor Pilot and the F-16 as an Instructor Pilot. His award-winning book One of the Few: A Marine Fighter Pilot’s Reconnaissance of the Christian Worldview has been optioned for film adaptation. He is represented by Julie Gwinn of The Seymour Agency.