by LTC Stuart G. McLennan III, USA
You fell on the battlefield today, and we grieved. You were so full of promise, and in the prime of life. You impressed me with your technical competence and prowess with digital systems. Your recent induction into the Sergeant Audie Murphy Club indicated that you had “what it takes.” Now, seriously wounded, it will be some time before you return to duty. I want you to know that I’m praying for your full recovery.
Your wounds came during spiritual battle, but they can be even more damaging than wounds to the body. You were wounded by things hidden in your heart — sexual sins acted out. Convicted in civil court and sentenced to prison, you will spend a season counting the cost of what you did, and its impact on your family and the victims. Sadly, the lion got another prey (1 Peter 5:8).
How should a commander respond to a soldier charged, then convicted, of such crimes? God allowed the eyes of my heart to see you through the filter of His love and to respond to you with the love and compassion of Christ. An ageless military axiom comes to mind — soldiers never leave their wounded or dead on the battlefield. These words apply here, and they have added urgency on the spiritual battlefield. You should know that your soul is just as precious to God as anyone’s, even after all you have done.
It may be difficult to see now, but God is working His plan of justice and mercy through the pain and sadness. I don’t know where you are in the cycle of sin we see in the book of Judges (sin, suffering, seeking, salvation), but hopefully you noticed the witness of the Christians in your chain of command.
We didn’t put you in a box. Rather, we encouraged and supported you and your family. We treated you with respect, since in America, you are innocent until found guilty. Your battery commander, who wasn’t required to attend the trial, was there all week. You need to know — it took a toll on him too. You asked your First Sergeant, Sergeant Major, and me to be character witnesses. Did you notice how we responded? Despite the grilling we received, we wanted to send you a message — what you did was wrong, but we care, you matter and life isn’t over.
Satan wounded you. But perhaps this is what it will take to get your attention and to open your heart to God’s plan for your life.
I close by encouraging you. Jeremiah chapter 29 verse 11 says “For I know the plans that I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” God is there, even in prison. And if you ask, He will begin to heal your wounds. Then look up, and see who God has put in that place to help you choose life.
LTC Stu McLennan, USA, served as an OCF area coordinator at Fort Leavenworth, Fort Carson and Fort Hood and was elected to the OCF Council Class of 2002. Stu culminated a 23 year career with battalion command, and retired 1 August 2001. Stu, wife Kay and son Logan reside in Copperas Cove, Texas. Their other two children, Stuart IV and Erin, attend the University of Mary Hardin Baylor in Belton, Texas.