It was hard to describe the group of young men that were standing there. From many different walks of life, each one bought their own unique style. Nothing could be seen that would make you think that they were a group. They had been instructed to form themselves into three ranks with an arm’s length between them. The drill sargeant standing to one side had to hold his words. Now was not the time to bark orders.
Standing there they each raised their right hand, which for one or two was a challenge in itself. Then slowly they repeated their oath. That day this ragtag bunch swore their allegiance to God, King, and Country. Here they were, totally unaware of what lay ahead of them, and yet they were willing and determined to present themselves for service.
A few minutes later they were being herded onto a bus, which began their journey into the unknown. The one thing they did understand was the cost of their service. Clearly, there would be casualties, some would die in brutal conflict on foreign shores. Others would return home missing limbs and unable to live with any sense of normality. Yet they were willing to serve. Their nation was at war.
In the weeks that followed was a transformation that some would consider miraculous. No longer a ragtag bunch, but a neatly uniformed and disciplined group of capable soldiers. They were now reaching the day when they would embark on the most perilous journey of their lives.
Sacrifice comes to mind. They were all willingly sacrificing something. Some would undoubtedly sacrifice everything. It was not the way they had imagined their lives. Yet they considered the cause worthy and so they willingly went.
No more would they be able to call in on their sweetheart on the way home from work. In reality, it would be a few years before they would see those eyes they loved to look into. Some would never see their life’s love ever again. A few would receive ‘Dear John’ letters, others not so fortunate.
The image of Military Service in the time of conflict defines the concept of ‘living sacrifice’ and the idea of one’s life no longer being their own. The process of training gives some substance to the meaning of transformation. So when we speak of ‘presenting ourselves before God as living sacrifices and being transformed by the renewing of our minds is given context by this analogy.
A greater clarification is possible when we look deeper into Romans 12:1&2 and analyze the word ‘present’. My English mind has me thinking that to present myself to God is to surrender before His throne and hand my life over to Him. The Greek includes that but also contains an unexpected twist. The word in Greek is ‘parastemi’. This is a compound word. The ‘para’ part means ‘beside’, and the second part is contracted(shortened) from ‘histemi’ which means to stand and can mean walk. It echoes the words of Jesus to the Disciples when He said, “Come follow Me and I will make you fishers of men.”
Such a life is defined in Romans 12:1 as our reasonable service. Based on the understanding that Jesus Christ is God in the flesh and died that I could live, is there anything too great to give to Him? No! Giving our hearts and minds to Jesus and making ourselves available to Him each and every day is indeed a reasonable form of service.
Would you enlist for God the Father, Jesus Christ our King and Heaven, the Eternal Nation of which we are citizens?