Joining the Military and Becoming a Hero

170322-N-GD109-116 WATERS EAST OF THE KOREAN PENINSULA (March 22, 2017) United States and the Republic of Korea Navy vessels participate in a photo exercise during Operation Foal Eagle. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Z.A. Landers/Released)

Hey all, Brynn here! I know its been a while since I last posted…let’s start this one out with the epic picture above from my second Naval deployment and a great movie quote from “The Incredibles,” below:

Frozone: “Honey?”
Honey: “What?”
Frozone: “Where’s my supersuit?”
Honey: “What?”
Frozone: “Where is my supersuit?”
Honey: “I put it away.”
Frozone: “Where?”
Honey: “Why do you need to know?”
Frozone: “I need it!”
Honey: “Don’t you think about running off doing no derrin’-do. We’ve been planning this dinner for two months!”
Frozone: “The public is in danger!”
Honey: “My evening’s in danger!”
Frozone: “Tell me where my suit is, woman! We are talking about the greater good!”
Honey: “‘Greater good’? I am your wife! I’m the greatest good you are ever gonna get!”

I couldn’t help but think of this movie quote while recently listening to my friend Rachel share words of encouragement for a couple at our church who is expecting their first baby this May. I was so struck by what Rachel shared, and I knew instantly that I had to share it with you all via this blog. Though Rachel was addressing a civilian couple expecting their first child, I think this message is so applicable to military members… 

Why did you join the military? Was it in small part because you wanted to be a hero for your country? Save lives? Protect freedoms? Go on an epic journey? Maybe you never thought of it this way before joining the military but since being in the military, how many times have your family or friends or even strangers called you a hero? Thanked you for your service? 

What exactly does it mean to be a hero? It sounds romantic but being a hero comes with a lot of responsibility – “protecting the greater good” and whatnot. What about when we mess up? When we let our Sailors, Marines, Soldiers, or Airmen down? What about when we lose a friendship, neglect our spouse, or receive a poor fitness report from our superior? What happens when this “hero identity” starts to crumble and we instead are faced with our own shortcomings and mistakes – is there hope in these moments? Yes, in JESUS there is great hope! Read on to hear my friend Rachel’s thoughts, and I pray that you will be encouraged just as I was!

I want to start with a question – who were some of your heroes growing up? I think for some of us we’d say that the people who raised us or our parents were our heroes. I know that for me when I think about my heroes in life, I would include my mom and dad. Of course, they weren’t perfect but they loved me and shaped me into the person I am today including raising me in the Christian faith. I think all of us want to be heroes in some way or another for ourselves and others. Whether that’s keeping people from sin, or trying to fix a friend/child/coworkers issue, or helping right a wrong. We all want to save people. But when our friend keeps falling into the same sin, or we can’t fully fix what’s been broken, or we can’t even fix ourselves in our own sin, we realize that we can never truly be the hero we want to be. 

But what makes a hero a hero? One of the most common factors of distinguishing a superhero from a “normal” person is the suit, right? Normal people become transformed into a hero when they put on their suit. (I’ll use the normal word lightly given the fact that characters like Tony Stark were not normal in their own right but I’m just going to say normal for the sake of argument.) So when they put on the suit, Tony Stark becomes Iron Man. Peter Parker becomes Spider Man. King T’Challa becomes the Black Panther. All of these characters were heroes but outside of the suits and superhero name, they were people. Tony Stark on his own could never be a hero. On his own he is weak and frail but clothed in the suit of Iron Man, he is transformed. Not only does he need the suit for his powers and strength to work out, but his suit gives him a new identity. 

In the Bible, we learn about a hero suit of sorts and how a similar transformation can happen. Genesis 2:25 says, “Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame”. Later, after they are deceived by the Devil and commit the first sin, they realize they are naked. Whereas their nakedness once points to their innocence and lack of shame, it thereafter becomes a sign of guilt, exposure, and vulnerability to God’s judgment. After God pronounces his judgment on them, he clothes them in garments of animal skin, covering their nakedness and shame but banishing them from the Garden of Eden. Later on the prophet Isaiah talks about God’s people and how they continue to sin just as Adam and Eve did. In chapter 59 Isaiah says to the Israelites “your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you.” Not only that but the Israelites’ attempts at covering their shame and atoning for their own sin were all in vain – “their cobwebs are useless for clothing; they cannot cover themselves with what they make.” Both the sin of Adam and Eve and the later sins of the Israelites separated them from God and there was nothing they could do, as sinful people, to cover their own nakedness and shame. BUT just as God intervened by covering the shame of Adam and Eve with animal skins, He intervenes on behalf of those who repent of their sin. Isaiah in chapter 59 goes on to say “He (the Lord) saw that there was no one, he was appalled that there was no one to intervene so his own arm achieved salvation for him, and his own righteousness sustained him. He put on righteousness as his breastplate, and the helmet of salvation on his head; he put on the garments of vengeance and wrapped himself in zeal as in a cloak.”… “The redeemer will come to Zion, to those in Jacob who repent of their sins”. Isaiah prophesied there would be one to intervene, and bring both judgement and redemption. Isaiah 61 goes on to talk about this redeemer and the restoration of God’s people. In his joy Isaiah says, “I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness”. God even gives these repentant people a new identity. They are transformed. We then learn through the New Testament that this redeemer Isaiah prophesied about was Jesus, and this Jesus would cover the iniquity and shame of all his people with his own shed blood on the cross Because Jesus, though free of sin, bore the punishment that we deserved for our sin through his body of flesh on the cross, the wrath of God was satisfied, saving us from the death we deserve. And because Jesus was raised from the grave and is now seated at the right hand of the Father, displayed in all his glory and righteousness, we have the greatest hope! We who believe in Jesus can now partake in his death and resurrection and as a result, we are transformed, made clean, and covered in Jesus’ own robe of righteousness – that is quite the supersuit!

So where does this fit back into being a hero? I think from Scripture and perhaps the Marvel Universe we learn a few key things:

  1. It’s not our job to save people. We cannot even if we want to!

In our relationships and with ourselves, we on our own are no hero. But God, in his righteousness makes us beautiful and helps us in our weakness, by his grace and mercy. When we are clothed with the righteous robe of the Lord Jesus Christ, we are transformed and so are our relationships. We train others in righteousness, we pursue people as Christ has pursued us, but we never are under the impression that we can save people from sin or the world. We all make mistakes, we’re not perfect, and we won’t be able to save our loved ones from sin. But being clothed in Christ and covered by the blood of Jesus will cover our past, present, and future mistakes and point to the one we treasure as our true hero. 

  1. To “put on Christ Jesus” is better than any superhero suit. 

Jesus not only covers our weakness but he also covers our sin and shame. Under the suit Tony Stark was still a proud, sinful, and broken man. The suit may have transformed his body but Jesus transforms our heart. He doesn’t just change us but he changes our identity. Being found in Christ Jesus gives us an incredible hope in future and while we wait to one day spend eternity with our Savior Jesus in heaven, we get to “put on Christ” now and live as an example by pointing others to Jesus. We are fully forgiven and free to live without shame and we are also empowered to live a life of obedience and joy in Christ!

So for those of us who have repented of our sins and placed our trust in Jesus Christ as our Savior, we can put on our hero suit everyday. We put on Christ. Knowing that we are weak but in Christ we are clothed in his righteousness. Not only that but we remember that we are not called to be a hero to anyone, not to our kids, not to our friends and family, nor to our coworkers. Instead, we are called to know our hero and be more like Him with the help of the Holy Spirit and point others to the true one and only Savior, Jesus Christ! 

Above excerpt by Rachel Gustaff

Rachel lives in San Diego and works with UC San Diego students through InterVarsity Christian Fellowship/USA. She enjoys hiking, drinking coffee, and puzzling in her free time.

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