by Brigadier General David Warner, USAF (Ret.)
Your relationship with God begins with His unfathomable love
Not many of us give much thought to that question on a daily basis. And truthfully, some days I may not really want to know the answer. But knowing how the Lord sees us is something we must consider because the answer dramatically affects our calling.
First, it is imperative to understand: God sees us through the lens of His unfathomable love. No matter what we‘ve done or will do, He loves you and me so deeply that “he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). Once we grapple with and ultimately grasp that eternal truth, we begin to realize He calls us to serve Him, going where no man or woman has gone before in His power, to reach out to others with encouragement and engage in their lives.
One of my favorite stories of obedient servants boldly stepping forward to answer God’s call to serve is the biblical account of the prophet Isaiah. He accepted the Lord’s commission to warn Judah about impending Babylonian captivity because of sin. Isaiah understood how God saw him and that his sin had been dealt with, “your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for” (Isaiah 6:7-8). Bolstered by the enormity of those truths, Isaiah confidently moved out with the Lord’s message of judgment, “Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?’ And I said, ‘Here am I. Send me!’” (Isaiah 6:8).
Secondly, He calls us to serve Him right where we are. Here’s a story that brings this to light. An Army lieutenant colonel recently shared with me his encounter with a fellow Wheaton College alum, as they brought each other up to date on their lives since graduating years earlier. The other fellow talked about how Wheaton had prepared him for his current ministry as a pastor. But in hearing about the lieutenant colonel’s current position, the pastor sighed, what a waste of a Christian education! The lieutenant colonel, knowing perfectly well how God sees and called him, countered with the ways his military service enables him to daily impact lives, feeling God’s pleasure in doing so: counseling a young man on a gun turret about issues at home, or ensuring a family is being cared for during a deployment.
The officer’s point—feeling God’s pleasure wherever He’s called us to serve—resonated with me years ago during a conversation I had with the pastor who performed my daughter’s wedding. I loved his response to my question of when he felt the calling to go into the ministry, “I was first called to be a godly man; then I prayed for the Lord to use me for His purposes.”
These stories remind me of the two commandments Christ emphasizes over all others in Scripture, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart… soul… mind” and “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Luke 10:27).
Lastly, you are called to be salt and light. In OCF we are called to love and to serve our active duty and retired military members and their families. Our indigenous lay-led model provides opportunities daily to impact hurting and lost people in need of Christ’s love. As a Christian in the military society, you hold a spiritual commission from Him to love and serve others, placing you right where you are to share the same joys, tears, fears, challenges, and broken hearts with those around you. It is a very special calling that only you can fulfill—serving the Lord while serving your nation.
I encourage you: spend time with the Lord, and think about how He sees you, even if you haven’t fully come to terms with it yet. But once you do, you will hear the Lord say, “Whom shall I send?” Step out confidently in God’s great love, “Here I am. Send me!” Seek those who are lost and hurting, and be the heart and hands of Jesus for someone who’s ready to receive Him.
Editor’s note: With this article, General Warner begins a series exploring our relationships with God and others. Only when we begin to understand God’s immense love and sacrifice for us, can we love and serve Him and others with all our hearts. In future articles, General Warner will delve into how other people see you, how you see others, and how you can apply your God-given calling to your daily life in the military society.