A few weeks ago, on a Sunday morning, my son left for Army Reserves Basic Training. He will be gone 25 weeks, for both basics and additional training.
My aunt said I was going to cry when I dropped him off.
I felt like I’d been driving with a caged, ornery grizzly bear. When he climbed out of my car, he walked to his sergeant’s car who was driving him a half a state away where he would catch a plane to take him to another state. Another officer called out, “You can still change your mind. If you don’t you’ll end up like me. . . You haven’t taken the last oath yet.”
He was in the officer’s car without a backward glance and gone. I felt empty.
Some ask, “Aren’t you scared?”
My response, “If this is the road my son is supposed to travel, I would be more concerned if he didn’t.”
After all, Jonah tried to run away from God’s plans ending up camping out in the belly of a whale. Running away from where you are called to go just creates discomfort physically, emotionally and spiritually.
Moms of soldiers don’t ask questions. The first thing they say, with conviction, “They are going to break him down. Then they’re going to re-build him up.”
At first, I think of my blue bicycle with its big, white basket that I had when I was a little girl. I rode it everywhere, to my aunt’s house up the street, to the pool – and then when I was older, to all my jobs.
My brother, 2 years older, took it into his head he wanted to be an engineer. To commemorate this recognition, he wanted to take my bicycle a part and put it back together. I was 10 at the time. I had total confidence in him.
My confidence cost me $14 of my own money to have someone else fix my bicycle. $14 in 1972 was big money. My brother grew up to be an engineer. He has more success with X-Ray machines than he does blue bicycles with big white baskets.
I trust that the military is better at this taking apart and putting back together than 12-year-old boys. I am confident they know all about breaking and re-building tanks, buildings . . . and men. Unlike my 12-year-old brother, they are experts at this.
For weeks, I have turned over this idea of my son being broken and rebuilt, studied it from all angles, breaking down and building up of my son, of this soldier-in-training.
“He will come home a different person, a better person,” my friend with a military son said.
“And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter; so he made it again into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to make” (Jeremiah 18:4)
God loves these rebellious sons. He pursues them. Often, he favors them – Like Jacob, Samson, David and Saul.
Like Jacob, my son has been raised to know God, and like Jacob, he has wrestled against the nobleness of God.God found Jacob in the desert. He broke him – and then rebuilt him over the next 20 years. Jacob returned home, repented behaving ignobly to Esau and lived a contented life.
Like Samson, my son has been raised to seek God’s plan, to honor his parents. Though, the word says that God needed Samson to rebel for His plan to work, he turned away from his parents’ wise advice and trusted foolishly. Ultimately, Samson was broken and God rebuilt him into the hero and martyr he created him to be.
And Saul. . . Saul who persecuted the followers of Christ. Saul who did not want to believe in Jesus Christ. God broke him and rebuilt him into Paul who told the gentiles, “You are God’s children, too.”
Even David was broken through the loss of a child, to be rebuilt, redeemed by God.
“I learned God-worship when my pride was shattered. Heart-shattered lives ready for love don’t for a moment escape God’s notice” (Psalm 51: 17) The Message
Nobody ever wants their children broken. Nobody ever wants to be broken. Yet, if in the breaking, wholeness is built – then by all means break and rebuild, break and rebuild me, too.
“For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10)
Sometimes, we become like the marred clay, marred by choices we made – marred by choices others made. Because of that, we need to be broken down and rebuilt.
As the Army breaks down my son, I pray that God is in the rebuilding.
“Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it.” (Psalm 127:1)
Everyday for almost 3 weeks, I listen for the mail truck – and when I hear it, I walk out to collect the mail. The last time I was so eager for mail was about 29 years ago when I was dating my husband, separated by a summer and different towns.
The mail man would tease me about the letters I received. I miss mail men like that.
Today I pulled 2 letters from the mail box.
I read them, and I cried – all the way through each one. He used words like learning to be a leader, making it through the gas chamber, 2 minute showers, putting fear in the back of your mind, studying to save lives.
He said he loves this path. We’ve both put that fear away.
I have been praying this soldier’s prayer I adapted from Luke 7:1-10. It put into words what my heart couldn’t as I studied this breaking and rebuilding.
Double-Click to Enlarge to ReadPrayer for My Soldier Son
I pray my son will become like the centurion who had such great faith in Jesus that Jesus marveled.
I want him to understand authority like the soldier, whose understanding enabled him to grasp the mighty power and authority of Jesus.
I want him to be humble like the soldier who said that he was not worthy of Jesus coming to his house – though Jesus was coming, thought him worthy of coming – this soldier who probably recognized the sin within him – it didn’t stop him from reaching out to God – I want my son to be like that soldier.
I want him to be a soldier, like this soldier, who loved the Jewish Nation, who helped build churches – because then my son will love both our country and Israel – and he will seek to build good things.
This son who I have called “Faithful” since he was littler than five, I want it said, “When Jesus heard these things, he marveled at him, and turning to the crowd that followed him, said, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.” ~ Adapted from Luke 7: 1-10