Monday, August 30, 2010

What is Your Life's Cadence?

July 2003, Homecoming, Ft. Benning, GA.
People sometimes ask me what "songs" I know from my service in the US Army. The impression they have is that all I did in the Army was march around a camp singing cadences with my M-16 in my hands while other people drove around in Humvees.

I hated singing cadences when I was in the Army, especially in basic training when you were encouraged to sing louder with push-ups, sit-ups, and flutter kicks if you weren't enthusiastic enough. Shouting/singing cadence took energy, and I hated expending energy after a tiring obstacle or training event. Once in a while, I'd have a drill sergeant who disliked cadence as much as I did, and he'd simply keep us in step by counting off when we should be on our left foot, "One, Two, Three, Four," and repeat. It was a chance to rest, zone out, and let my mind wander back home. Moments like that, I'd forget that I was even in the Army.

Funny thing is that whenever I was tired, stressed, worn out, and needed an extra bit of motivation, I'd find myself singing a cadence to myself under my breath. It didn't matter where I was, whether it was during a PT Test, 100-mile march in Holland, Kosovo, treating patients in a medical emergency, or Operation Iraqi Freedom, cadence is what I'd turn to for motivation. I still catch myself singing them once in a while to get pumped up about something. There was something comforting and methodical about cadence that would remind me that there is a rhythm and purpose in even the most chaotic situations.

There were other things that were drilled into me during basic training that are still with me today. The daily drills of Army life served a purpose that I hadn't appreciated at the time. In times of stress and overwhelming odds, we have a tendency to throw knowledge out the window and revert to what seems like instinct. In the Army, completing the command "Inspection, Arms!" for multiple hours a day for 14 days seemed like pointless drill-and-ceremony torture while I was in basic training, but in combat it meant that I could change out magazines in my weapon without having to look at all the parts to make sure I was pushing and pulling the right stuff. The attention to detail on your uniform, and picking up trash every morning, paid off in combat, too. You learned the importance of knowing your surroundings, and knowing how to recognize friend from foe. Daily drills that I hated then, but appreciate now.

The same goes for our own lives. What drills and thoughts are we committing to every day? What actions, behaviors, and thought processes are we repeating to ourselves, our spouses, and our children? What "instincts" are you conditioning into your life? This is where filling our minds with God's word, spending time in prayer, and having fellowship with other Christian believers really makes a difference in our lives. While many think that Christianity is about spending a Sunday morning in church before going out for lunch, the reality is that our faith is meant to be a daily spiritual walk designed to shape our lives for spiritual combat that is happening as you read this.

What is the daily mantra, the truth, that you speak into existence in your life every day?

For me, it has been reminding myself that my wife is a gift from God, a God who loves me so much that the sacrifice of His son Jesus Christ allows me to be in a close relationship directly with Him. Arguments with my wife are resolved in the understanding that Satan is my enemy, not my wife, and that God brought Liv and I together to be one flesh with a purpose for His kingdom. When she suffers, I suffer. When she is happy, I am happy. Every day, I remind myself that I am blessed, and that Liv is every bit a part of me as I am a part of her in Christ.

Taking a break from this daily routine is not an option for me. Like my time in the Army, when a drill sergeant cut a corner and refused to call cadence, it was an opportunity for my mind to wander and forget who I was and where I was. The same happens when I break from reading the Bible or praying on a regular basis, I begin to forget who I am, who I belong to, and what my purpose is in Christ. I lose my bearing in life and wander, drift away from a blessed life, until I course correct and get back into that daily routine.

I encourage you to get into the daily habit of learning and understanding God's truth for you. Apply what you learn into your life and make the habit of prayer a part of you. That way, when life becomes overwhelmingly chaotic, you will remember who you are, whose you are, and know what to do and who to turn to for help.

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