Boot Camp for Service: Your Home
Home. What does that bring to your mind? Comfort, belonging, love, and care. Or perhaps authority, boundaries, chores, and endless correction? Maybe you’re a homebody and never want to go anyplace else. Maybe you’re a social butterfly and would rather be everywhere else. Maybe you just are “there.” Your home is the sum of two family lines with their own unique ideals, weaknesses and strengths. Perhaps you’ve struggled to fit in and be accepted, and found your parents are hard to understand. Or maybe they have become your dearest friends. You may be the only child, or you may share your home with brothers and sisters, each with a personality of their own. Each home is different, each is unique. Your home might be your palace or your prison, your security or your trouble, but have you ever considered it as your opportunity?
“What opportunity?” you ask. Your opportunity to advance and step up to greater heights. Yes home—the place that lies closest to who you are and shall be—has a purpose that is so often missed. Have you ever considered that within its unique blend of relationships, responsibilities, troubles, and blessings lies the Master Teacher’s preparation class for your life? If you have submitted your life to God, your home is the training ground for future use to Him. A boot camp for His service. The school of training for the army of your King. Will you enroll?
The Camp: How it Works
Consider for a moment your home as a training camp for the army. There are the officials, whose job it is to prepare you for combat with instruction in skills, discipline, and physical training. These are under the General in Chief, who is highest in command. And, of course, there are the soldiers-in-training whose purpose is to grow in fitness and master the skills needed for service.
Perhaps you have never considered this view of your hum-drum home life, especially when it seems that those “officials” seem to be cracking a whip in your direction more than is needed. Most likely, as you have come to yield to that General’s plea for volunteers, you have found that the “camp” life of training has been often a trying and teary battle front of its own. Think of this then as a place to re-evaluate and look on your home in a new light.
Though you may certainly discover your own applications to this allegory, the following passages have been written with a desire to share what the Captain has been teaching me. May He have all the glory and honor.
Breaking In: The Basics
There are some basic principles that govern each enlistee in the King’s service. Since they are the basic organization and work of the King’s army (and therefore, of our camp training) they will be considered first.
Truth is our code of operation. It is set up by the General and is perfect and complete in every aspect. It remains the same, no matter what anyone says against it. On it are built all that is lasting and worthwhile. It is our standard of measurement. To receive it you must apply to the General Himself, for He says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father but by me.” (John 14:6) It is His character and is shown forth to us by His word. Therefore we say that the Bible is a volume of truth, and its everlasting elements can be stood upon safely. Here are just a few of the many that it contains:
God cannot dwell with evil (Psalm 5:4).
God’s love made a way for us to be saved (1 John 4:9-10).
If you draw nigh to God, He will draw nigh to you (James 4:8).
God is faithful (1 Corinthians 1:9).
Nothing is impossible with God (Luke 1:37).
God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble (1 Peter 5:5).
God cares for you (1 Peter 5:7).
Committing sin is of the devil, and Jesus came to destroy that (1 John 3:8).
The Lord is good, a stronghold to trust in (Nahum 1:7).
Without holiness no man shall see the Lord (Hebrews 12:14).
It is of key important that we walk in truth. As the General operates, so must each trainee learn to operate. His banner is one of triumph in every circumstance, good overcoming evil. His operating basis is Love, which is the uniform worn by everyone in His service. It affects how we act and declares to everyone else our status as a soldier. Love to Him must be the supreme motivation of our service—not self-gratification and benefit. Everything done in love is worthwhile to the cause. Anything without it is totally worthless. This is because God is love, and His soldiers are called to represent Him to the world. In the same way we must uphold any truth that we are taught.
But truth would be of no value if the second principle, faith, wasn’t in operation. If we don’t have full confidence and belief in the General, we have no reason to serve Him. Faith is the door by which every volunteer has been able to enter the service. By it we operate, for “without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder to them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6) Wherever He has placed you, and whatever trials may be yours, trust that He knows what He is doing, that His way is best. Knowing that He has won every battle should inspire our utmost confidence. We can leave the managing and directing with Him and be content to simply be a trusting child. Give first place to the cause of the kingdom, putting your hand in His, “and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:33) I have had many reminders not to go by feeling or the looks of the circumstances, but by the ability of the General. And how faithfully He has proven His promises true!
Thirdly, we face the need to submit. Ultimately, to the General, but much of this comes by practice in submitting to the “officials” He has placed over us. As a trainee in His service, it is a discipline we face daily. Though it doesn’t come naturally to yield to authority, it is none the less, necessary. The test is whether we submit quickly and cheerfully. It is His requirement that we place ourselves under authority, but He will not force us. Put the question to yourself: will I give unconditional service to my General, doing whatever He asks, by His help? Jesus is the example to follow: “I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.” (John 5:30) And even as a boy at home he was subject unto his earthly parents, even in the face of His great mission. The authority was set down and there was a trial of obedience, but Jesus laid down His will to do the service of a child in subjection. He learned to wait. Surely Jesus understands and can help us when the requirement seems unreasonable, the oversight too strict, and the zeal of desire strong. Jesus knew. He learned to submit in this camp of training, too.
Finally, there is the purpose, or cause, for which we are giving ourselves. We are training for an army of service: as a servant of the King, doing His will on this earth. How important a mission this is when everywhere people are blinded by the sin and darkness all around! We can’t afford to live for ourselves. We either influence others for good or evil, making the world a little better place, or a little worse. Perhaps you find yourself in less than ideal circumstances, in a home not ruled by the King, or with great personal weaknesses and limitations. But Jesus came to restore the ruins of generations. His delight is in recovering, for His power is unlimited. He still has His faithful ones, though few, and He continues to call all that will come. He wants laborers in His fields, vessels for His use. The General is calling you to a life of service: to touch others with His goodness and love.
Lessons of Preparation: The Daily Drills
To be useful in the King’s army we must undergo training that we may be “prepared unto every good work.” (2 Timothy 2:21) As any training camp, this one has a routine of exercises to strengthen you for service. But beware—they come in all sorts of ways, and often seem to be slipped secretly into your schedule. So keep your eyes open and stay on duty!
As mentioned earlier, Love is the soldier’s uniform, but it has to be worn and used to be truly beneficial. It is more than a garment which we put on, for it is also an attitude of heart and a fruit to be grown in our lives. The principle trait of love—that divine love that is sometimes called “charity”—is that of giving. If we cease to give of ourselves, we cease to love. Let us exercise love in everything we do. It makes reading the storybook worthwhile, but without love even a dangerous mission trip would be a waste of time. Love is the factor by which our labor will be weighed. When it seems that your love is wearing thin, put in for a fresh supply from the General’s great store.
There is power in love to overcome. When anger and bitterness try to sneak into your thoughts against another, God’s love would replace them with kindness and forgiveness. Just set yourself to ask, for you are sure to receive. Often you will have to take a stand with your will before you feel loving, but the feelings follow. It is only as we see others in the same way that Christ, our Captain, does, that we can truly love them. By God’s grace, forbear when others annoy and try you. Forgive, as Christ has forgiven you. We must set ourselves to give up our wills, to lay aside our wishes, to think first of another’s good. All these things can be fulfilled by love, and you will find gain in the giving.
Humility, also, is a essential trait to be exercised in our daily lives. There are two kinds: the genuine and the false “put on” kind. True humility is seeing ourselves as we are, an incompetent trainee in the service of an all-mighty King. It is the only way we can be received of Him, for “God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace to the humble.” (James 4:6) Its practice comes out in many areas. When reproved by a parenting “official,” in spite of how many excuses come to mind, we are called to submit humbly as good soldiers. Whether we receive praise or criticism from others there is opportunity to practice humility. In praise, to deflect it back to the Giver of the gift. In criticism or accusation, to keep from retaliation and be filled with love instead.
Humility shows itself by being content in whatever circumstances and line of duty we are called to. It is completely trusting the leading of our General. Submit to His will and dealings in your life; they are for your best. As a good student we shouldn’t seek to assert our own opinions and thoughts, but desire to listen and learn. The murmuring and disputing we can leave off, committing our way to Him who judges righteously. It is as we give thanks in all things that we can keep above the storm clouds in life.
We must also learn diligence. In all we do, let us strive to complete it with the highest and purest motives. Do it for God and His glory. Be not slack or weary in serving, for the General has reinforcements ready when we need them. When we think of our home service as if Jesus were there, we can give our best. Quickly obey and work for the mastery. If we set our will to do it, it can be done, but “can’t” loses before he has begun. Throw off the rocks that will bog you down, the empty and material things, but stretch out for the heights. How important to get glimpses of the reward awaiting, and to gladly flee all temptations to fleshly lusts! Follow the General. He will lead us to be a difference in this world for good, not a stumbling block. Be prepared to every good work: ready to be a “minute man” for God.
Let us be faithful in our service. We can see each task, each change of plans, each new trouble as an opportunity. Whatever the call, wherever the leading, let us march on and do not falter. Be true in the little or big, for the General marks by attitude, not altitude. Do not compare with others, but serve in your place whole-heartedly. As we seek to be a servant of all, we will do our best whether noticed or not. Here humility can be kept, for self will not get so much in the way. Nothing is too insignificant—the least wrong and the smallest choice for right will be noticed by Him. Live the life and keep on shining.
Finally, we must exercise faith. It is our strength, and whether we have little or much, it has to be exercised daily or we shall be unfit for service. It is trusting our General when the prospects look dim, when our efforts seem worthless, when troubles seem to pile all around. When everything else fails, still hold on, believing. It’s worth the trouble and effort to serve Him, though we may not yet see any results. Stand on the promises He’s given, looking in confidence for the answer. Lay aside the cares and burdens, handing them over into His capable hands. Look at His beauty and strength, not to yourself. Call upon Him in the day of trouble, that He may inspire and strengthen your faith. Trust and follow.
Maneuvers of Battle
Spiritual service needs skilled training in other areas as well. A proven soldier is one who has fought and won. It is the battles that prove us for the King’s service. They are your tests of strength and love, and by them He would perfect His character in you. The little battles of your “home camp” prepare you for the larger and fiercer fights later on.
Here are some areas for progression that you may have surer success over the foe and can be of greater use in the service. Your General is your instructor, so seek His direction in all things you are uncertain in. His approval is what matters.
It is important that we set our dependence on God, and not on anything else. If we trust in our own understanding, man, or the philosophies of this world, we will be led astray. We must depend on Him for grace, it is the power to sustain us through all circumstances. We must depend on Him for strength, for our own strengths will give but false security. Depend on Him to fulfill His Word; He is faithful. Depend on Him to accomplish what is best. Seek Him to make you what you ought to be. Start each day with drawing close to Him, as a true Father. Bring to Him every need throughout the day. Go aside again when the pressures and trials overwhelm you. In Him is a security and safety found nowhere else.
Intercession is coming before God on the behalf of another. Jesus is our Intercessor before God, and we are given a place in praying for those around you. There is power in prayer, and a uniting with our Captain in His purposes and love. When we come before Him with our own needs, we learn to know Him as a true and present Deliverer. When we see others in distress and need, how natural it is to turn to the Captain for help. He has all the solutions and He is never discouraged. Begin with the people you are around today. Are they enemies of His way? Ask the Captain for love to really care and see the need as He does. When we are inspired by His Spirit, we have the assurance of receiving what we ask. Maybe you have been blessed with fellow soldiers in training. How can you better support one another but by praying for each other and looking to the General to solve every difficulty that comes your way? This is where success would be found, for you are calling upon a Source that is unlimited.
To fight the fight we must persevere. We must press on and never despair. Set yourself to go through, whatever it costs you. Keep the goal in view and set your sights there. Don’t give up when the terrain is difficult, or the enemy fire hot. Hold fast and keep on the firing line. If you press through today’s battle, tomorrow’s will be that much more easier. Persevere when you’re abased or abounding. Don’t allow for slackness if life seems easy for a time, for the enemy watches out for a lazy guard. Press to go deeper and farther whether the day be dull and dragging or overwhelmingly full. Don’t be content to stay still, but desire more of God. He will get you to the goal if you will only let Him.
Hold out for the victory. Here is our triumph: “in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.” (Romans 8:37) You are promised victory on this side of heaven. You are called to reign in this life. You’ve enlisted in an army that always overcomes. You may suffer unfairness and injustice as a soldier, but so did your General. This is no mark of the loss of victory, for His power can cause you to triumph through every circumstance. It is part of your training to be buffeted and scorned—will you show mercy and repay evil with good? His power is available for us to cast down strongholds and through weakness to be made strong. Let us show the true colors and press on through the fight! The camp of the enemy can be our triumph. Our General is true and faithful, therefore let us follow in perfect trust. His love has conquered and will conquer still, so let us step in line and march on for the victory!