A Voice in the
Wilderness

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Re: "PJ"s

"But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I
have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified [rejected].
(1Cor9:27 -nkjv)

I was reminded of this verse recently while watching a TV network 
special on the Air Force Hostage Rescue Team, the elite parachute 
jumping rescue team, the "PJ"s. The Navy's version, the "Seals", are 
better-known by name, and are more numerous. The PJ's number less than 
300. It is highly selective, and after I saw the special, I understood 
'why'.

One of the instructors was asked, "If I (the interviewer) were accepted
into this program what would be your first words to me?"

Instructor:  "Drop"  ...and do push-ups. Right there I'd flunk out!

Their rigorous training consists of running, pushups, pullups, situps,
backwards situps (legs pinned while they dip their faces into the
water...if they don't lift up, they're in the water!!) Learning to swim
with hands tied behind their backs, and ankles tied together, and all
sorts of torturous stuff. And rather quickly the -majority- of those
who initially signed up, get weeded out. They quit. They can't "take
it".

One of the final tests prior to becoming qualified to proceed on to
tactical training, is a 2-minute "buddy-snorkel" breathing. At first,
it might not seem like such a "big deal"... just hang on to your buddy,
pass the snorkel back and forth, and breath underwater for 2 minutes.
Thing is, while they are doing this, the instructor is continually
taunting them. Swimming around them, purposely tugging on the snorkel,
trying to pull them apart, if they come up for their allotted "one
time" above the surface, he splashes water in their face.  About
anything he can do to deter them from successful completion of their
test. If they are unsuccessful, they "fail", and are out of the
program. It doesn't matter if they swallow some water, and have to come
up a "second" time...they fail. Isn't that "unfair?"

You see... they are training to be able to work in the worst possible
conditions. Storm at sea, middle of a combat area, etc., where the
person they are rescuing is in bad shape, and possibly frantically
acting counterproductively to their own rescue.

The ones who 'pass' and receive their commendation, receive with that a 
sense of 'pride' of accomplishment. Knowing they did it. They hung in 
there. They stuck it out.

These people are not forced to join. They volunteer. They work hard. 
They put themselves to the outter fringes of their physical endurance, 
to ACCOMPLISH THE GOAL.

The -real- Christian life is kind of like this, too. Jesus said, "No 
one, having put his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the 
kingdom of God." (Lk9:62) In following Jesus He spoke of "[bearing] his 
cross" [an instrument of death] to be His disciple (Lk14:27) To be a
Christian requires "counting the cost". (vs28)

If you thought you could escape all your problems and sorrows by
"becoming a Christian" and now live a happy life of ease, then, you
made the wrong choice! The REAL Christian life is one of struggles. In
Paul's zeal for the Gospel he spoke of doing, essentially, "whatever it
takes" to reach people for the Kingdom of Heaven. "I am made all things
to all men, so that I might by all means save some." (1Cor9:22) And he 
likens the life to athletics.  "striving for the mastery" (vs25) "So 
then I run, not as if I were uncertain. ["TENDING to believe/lean"] And
so I fight, not as one who beats the air." (vs26)

The Christian life is not one of being "tossed around [wildly] by every
wind of doctrine" (Eph4:14) but of "laying aside every weight
and..sin..running the race..looking to Jesus." (Heb12:1-2) We do not 
repent and receive Christ as Savior, and then sit down "Hmph!!" with 
arms crossed, "I'm now saved and on my way to heaven! Nothing can shake 
me now!!" No, we don't -have- our salvation yet. We have been "sealed
with the Holy Spirit of -PROMISE-" (Eph1:13) but we have not yet "taken
possession.." (Phil3:13) We are still waiting for the "adoption, the
redemption of our body." (Rom8:23) And so, until that day, with all
diligence, we "press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling 
of God in Christ Jesus." (Phil3:14)  No. This is not works -for-
salvation, but -because-of- salvation! "-UNTO- good works..." (Eph2:10)

Why is such an extreme called for? We are not in that calm 'swimming
pool' where we can safely trudge around in the shallow end and be safe.
We are out in the storm-tossed Atlantic where the "roaring lion is
seeking to devour" us. (1Pt5:8) It's a "jungle" as satan's messengers
come at us from behind every tree.

Paul gave up -everything- of himself, counting his own life as "dung" 
(Phil3:8).  He lived out the "living sacrifice" (Heb12:1) in his 
desires and earnestness.  He could have wished himself to be "accursed"
for the sake of Israel's salvation. (Rom9:3) His life was "poured out"
in service to Christ, as he says "I have fought a good fight, I have
finished the course, I have kept the faith." (2Tm4:7) When the PJ's
went up to receive the certificate and handshake, there was a sense of 
"accomplishment". Even moreso, Paul anticipated, "Now there is laid up 
for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, 
shall give me at that Day; and not to me only, but also to all those 
who love His appearing." (2Tm4:8)

Dear Believer... of what does -your- life consist? What is the nature
of your Faith and Service to our Lord Who "loved us and washed us from
our sins in His own blood"? (Rev1:5)  Is it...to "gladly spend and be
spent..." (2Cor12:15) ???

Oh... but!! It isn't fair! Satan always comes at me when I'm tired,
have had a set-back, and I'm just emotionally drained and vulnerable.
"Drop!! and give me 100 pushups!!" You see, satan whines at God, too.
"Does Job fear God for nothing?" (Job1:9) God, you've given him such a
life of ease and comfort. So God says, 'Ok! Test him.' Jesus said to
Peter, "Satan has desired you, that he may sift you as wheat."
(Lk22:31) Depending on the person, God allows satan to buffet the
individual according to our needs and abilities. No temptation is
beyond our ability to withstand, but what God won't provide a means to
succeed. (1Cor10:13) To Peter Jesus said, "I have prayed for you, that
your faith fail not." (Lk22:32) When you've come through the test,
you'll be prepared to "strengthen your brothers."

Testings are necessary. Without them we don't know "what sort" we are
of.(1Cor3:13) Back to the 'military' example, if the recruit can't
handle a little hand-splashed water in the face in the safety of the
pool, how will he deal with the 30-foot swells and breakers? "If you
have run with footmen, and they wore you out, then how can you compete
with horses?" (Jer12:5) The most precious jewels were created under
extreme pressure. Sparkly 'white' diamonds come from 'black' coal. High
quality gold comes from heating up to the melting point, and the dross
and impurities are skimmed off. "If you faint in the day of trial, your 
strength is small." (Pr24:10)

Back to Job. ONCE was not enough for satan. He tested him by taking
away all his wealth and children. Satan whines to God some more, so God
says, OK, do your best to Job, himself. Only, spare his life. And in
the midst of his deepest misery Job proclaims his faith in God, "But He
knows the way that I take; when He has tried me, I shall come forth as
gold." And his faith was based, not on present circumstances and how
terrible he -felt-, but on the -doctrine- of God's Word. "..nor have I
gone back from the commandments of His lips; I treasured the words of
His mouth more than my necessary food." (Job23:10,12)

Amen!