Tuesday, February 7, 2012

God's Mission and your Sub-Mission

At the end of my deployment to Afghanistan, I had sunk to new lows.  I was physically, emotionally, and psychologically drained.  My struggles weren't caused by excessive trauma, but by fear.  I was eleven months into this tour and almost home, but thoughts of hopelessness invaded me from all directions.  I was missing my new wife and felt that I was rotting away in a far away land.  By embracing this attitude of fear, I lost sight of the plan that God had for my life in those days away from my home.
As I searched for help, I found a blog run by a retired Special Forces non-commissioned officer named Tim Burke.  Tim's blog (http://www.timmyburke.com) was filled with incredibly encouraging stories of faith and perseverance.  His goal in life is to teach young men how to live a courageous and victorious life by the Word of God.  I shared my thoughts with him via e-mail and was relieved to find his reply in my inbox the next day.  It was then that I began to visualize the greater purpose to which I have been called since I received Christ at age 17.
While Tim's reply is long, I highly encourage you to read it in its entirety.  My prayer is that it has the same uplifting effect in your life that it had in mine.  Without any further adieu:
As a lieutenant, you have been trained to analyze things on a tactical level. When an operations order is passed down to your unit, you know that your mission is one small part of a much greater mission. The general, sitting at “star fleet command”, has an overall strategy and has issued his orders to his brigade commanders, who have then re-interpreted the mission statement and issued their orders to the battalions. The battalion commander did the same, issuing orders to the company commanders, and then finally they issue their orders to the platoon leaders. Your specific orders may or may not make sense at this point. You may ask, “why in the world do I need to take this hilltop?”, “I don’t see how it even adds to the mission, it doesn’t make sense.”  But back at star fleet command, the general is counting on you to take that hilltop as part of the overall strategy, even if it doesn’t make sense to you where you are. Your part of the mission, your “sub-mission” is a critical part of the overall plan. While preparing your troops to take the hilltop, you don’t have a vision of how intensely important your “sub-mission” is to the general’s comprehensive plan.  However, the success or failure of your “sub-mission” will affect hundreds, even thousands of soldiers, and contribute to or degrade the strategy enacted by the general.  In fact, the general only enacted this strategy based on his confidence in his colonels, captains, and lieutenants to exercise their capabilities and accomplish their sub-missions.  If he didn’t have confidence in his soldiers to do their part, he wouldn’t engage his troops in combat to begin with.
Here is the parallel: God is the general. The general has an overall strategy to reconcile the lost to himself. Each of us has been given a portion of that mission in the form of a sub-mission and He is not just hoping we will be able to accomplish this sub-mission, but is counting on us to do so. Right now, your sub-mission has taken you to Afghanistan.  Just as Joseph spent at least 15 years as a slave and in prison, wondering where God went and why he was rotting in a dungeon, perhaps you are sitting in a far away place, trapped within the confines of a firebase, wondering where God went and why you are “rotting” there.  Well, we know that Joseph trusted God, and God delivered Joseph and promoted him far above that which may have been worldly possible.  Joseph had a “sub-mission” to God’s overall strategy.  So here you are, in a strange place that is unfamiliar, unfriendly, somewhat dangerous, and far away from your new bride. Your heart is aching to be with her and to be home and in a familiar and friendly environment. Those feelings mean that you are absolutely, completely, 100% normal!  Brother, you will return soon enough, but for right now you have been given a sub-mission.  I know the US has you over there, but that is no accident. God put you in “the dungeon” and you have opportunities that nobody else has to shine for the glory of the Lord.  There is a “baker and a cup bearer” there that need to hear God’s word.  You, my friend, are the only one who has access to them.  I know at least fifty men and women who would gladly trade places with you for the sole purpose of being able to share God’s Word with your men.  These people are NOT soldiers. As a matter of fact, they are in their late fifties and the only skills they have are “swordsmanship” with the Word of God.
I Timothy 2:3-4 says: "Thou therefore, endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier."
Look, I will be a little choleric here. If you are reflecting internally about how YOU feel, you will never be effective while you are there.  Nobody feels comfortable and content in a place like that.  However, if you focus externally on the lives of your men (even those above you), and how you can make a difference for Jesus Christ, you will find that your time will fly by and you will be lost in your “sub-mission.”
The key to doing this is written above several times in quotation marks – “submission.” You must submit to God’s will and divest yourself of your own will for yourself.  You have to look at the spiritual and the eternal aspects of what you are doing rather than the physical or earthly aspects.  The fact remains that if you do not tell your men about Jesus Christ, they may never hear a clear presentation of the Gospel.  You have been trusted to “take the hill” and the General is counting on you to perform your mission.  How amazing is that!!? The God of all the universe is trusting YOU!  He has placed His confidence in the fact that YOU WILL step up to the plate and “endure hardness as a good soldier.” You have been chosen.
We have all been “chosen” for a “sub-mission” by God.  It may seem that our mission is impossible to complete.  Moses probably felt that way standing in the worst tactical position possible with Pharoah’s army on one side and the Red Sea on the other.  Tactically, he was toast!  But God... need I write any more?  You are where you are right now because you have been chosen to fulfill a sub-mission, a portion of God’s overall mission to redeem the world from sin and death. You need only submit to His will and God will show up and perform a miracle.
If you are in a tough spot right now, don’t get down.  Look for God to do amazing things. He rarely does something supernatural while you are comfortable at home on your couch. But when you are in the desert, and the wind is dry and hot, the enemy is breathing down your neck, you are outnumbered, out-equipped, and it seems as if you are out of options and at the end of yourself, THEN God can work.  He was merely waiting for you to get out of His way.
Proverbs 3:5-6: "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding.  In all thy ways acknowledge Him and he shall direct thy paths."
Read 1 Samuel 14 and see how God amazingly delivered Jonathan and his “Ranger buddy” from devastation.  It is one of my favorite Bible stories. God bless you.
In His grip,
Tim Burke
What is your personal mission?  Are you self-focused or others-focused?  It's amazing how much more fulfilled we feel when we channel our energy into others instead of investing it all in ourselves.  Furthermore, is your mission as a Christian to simply survive this life and make it into heaven, or do you want to truly impact the lives of others?
Satan wants to impact you to the point where you are completely ineffective for the kingdom of God.  He can't rob you of your eternal home, but he can certainly make your life miserable and meaningless if you lose sight of the divine General's plan for your life.  Wherever you are, regardless of your personal circumstances, you are a critical part of His plan to bring this world under the obedience of Christ.  Do not take this mission lightly.
"I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."- Philippians 3:14


  1. Good point. During my three deployments, I have often wondered the same thing. Only until I recently got back from Afghanistan and then deciding to not get out did I realize that God had put me in the position I was in to minister to others. What a selfish person I have been due to thinking only about myself. How many opportunities did I miss to share Jesus with Marines who needed to hear about him? I wonder now, but am trying to be more receptive to the opportunities I have to share the Word with my Marines.

  2. That's exactly how I feel looking back. We are often put in situations that test our will to drive on doing the right things. I didn't really get along with a lot of people that I served with overseas, so I regret having a self-centered attitude that only thought about how bad off I was. I consider it a lesson learned.