It was an urgent call…
It was an urgent call and what I would ask him I had never even spoken out loud.
I knew I needed to exit the freeway and regroup after noticing my vehicle was exceeding 105 MPH on a California freeway at night. These intense feelings snuck up on me and hit me like a tidal wave mixed with a tornado as thoughts flooded back to my recent time in Iraq.
My bride, quietly praying and calmly sitting next to me, gently rested her hand on my arm knowing these rare but intense moments hit me out of nowhere. Eileen seeing me suffering and knowing at that moment her touch reassured me things would work out helped me know I better pull over and realize No Outside Threat was real at the moment (except for my high speed!)
After I pulled over I got out and called a faithful warrior friend who I knew I could ask this one question, a question I had never even spoken out loud before.
I asked him, “Do you remember the day when you realized you no longer fit into society like most people do, even those you’ve known for years?
He didn’t hesitate with his response. “I absolutely remember!”
I was on the phone with a friend who is a retired and highly respected U.S. Army Delta Operator. We recently were in Iraq together helping children who had been held captive by ISIS and horribly affected by these extremists. J.T. is a solid born-again Christ follower. So when I called him, he dropped what he was doing to take my call hearing the concern in my voice.
I let him know what happened and he chuckled and said he missed those days of that rush of crazy feelings hitting so hard and told me, “Brother, just ride it out, just enjoy it!” He then said, “You signed up and got on that back of that big ol’ Bucking Fighting Bull!” I laughed at his highly therapeutic response which made me laugh and breathe.
After 6x into Iraq and well over 70 completed missions (which is not that much for regular active military units but for an NGO faith-based ministry it is) you see and at times are required to do things that normal society knows nothing about. Now that I have a residence there, just the living conditions of war and the effects on children you see is sad and shocking and knowing full well the calculated risks we take (some low, some not so low.)
I truly sense the peace of God through it all. But then, when I return home to the USA and process some of the amazing High Risk things we did to help children or live the Gospel even in ISIS territory, my breathing sometimes gets shallow, my heart rate goes down and this intense focus has me at the ready to fight, evade, make life-changing decisions. The problem is I’m back here in a grocery market or driving or laying in my bed at night and I don’t need those ramped up skills! I can laugh now but at the time it’s not so fun.
Why do I share this very personal insight? It is because the photo you see of myself and some colleagues in the back was a day we were on the east side of Mosul when fighting was happening and many children and families were being liberated and rescued from ISIS.
I just happened on this photo and noticed my close friend Shaheen in the background with General Mustafa of the 9th Armored Division and other good men.
Shaheen is no longer with us as well as some of the other men in that photo. They gave their lives fighting the manifestation of evil and endured hardship for a cause bigger than themselves.
Here in America, may we, as Christian men, reject passivity and being lukewarm and, when needed, embrace suffering, endure hardships, doing the right thing, when others around us avoid it at all cost!
May we be “real models” not just “role models” for the younger generation. May we display first-hand that discipline, honor, courage, respect, loyalty with a steel backbone of resolve to never give up, so it impacts them in such a way that it changes the outcome of decisions they will make in the future.
Praying for those still fighting tonight and fighting to recover and survive what they’ve gone through.
Prayers they move from Survive to Thrive!
For the Glory of God and because of His love,
Jesus – First
Others – Second
Yourself – Last