Not only did the Iraq War teach me that life is short and should be lived for the glory of God and the good of others, but the war also impressed upon me the fact that God is God, and I am not. He gives and takes life as He sees fit. In other words, I learned that God is absolutely sovereign!
During the Iraq War I served as an Army Intelligence Analyst and was charged with the task to “find, know, and never lose the enemy.” I became obsessed with “the hunt” and wanted to know the “why” of everything. When SSG Textor died, I realized that for all of my efforts, knowledge, and ability I could not prevent God’s sovereign plan for that young man’s life.
War has a way of proving that we are not in control of anything. Listen again to the words of Nick Swarthout as he recounts one of the most sobering events of his life: “While sleeping on the second floor of one of Saddam’s Mother in Law’s mansions, a rocket landed in the front yard. Never in my life have I experienced such a feeling of hopelessness and insecurity. There I lay in my boxers, all of my equipment and weapons down stairs, its 6:00 in the morning, and I am tucked safely in a bed completely surrounded by ¾ inch ply wood walls as the only thing that stood between me and the corridor of glass windows in front of me. All I could think about was how much closer to me than the front yard are the other 36 rockets going to land? And which one is going to be the one to land in my ready-made coffin of a bedroom? Fortunately, that rocket was flying solo into our front yard that morning, and again, by the grace of God, I am here to type these stories for you.”
Dr. Jeff Newman of Faith Baptist Bible College once stated “there are no accidental moments.” Nothing in our life happens by accident. God has a plan for our lives and He is working all things for our good. It was not by accident that SSG Textor died and my friend, Nick, survived. In both cases, God was glorified. Therefore, I don’t have to understand why. I simply have to trust in the sovereignty of my God. The Bible states in Romans 8:28, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” As humans, there are some things that you and I just can’t do, know, or prevent. The Iraq War solidified this fact for me and caused me to run to God in times of my fear, doubt, and discouragement.
King David was one of the greatest warriors to ever live. There were many times when David found himself discouraged and alone in the midst of battle. But what did David do? The Bible states in 1 Samuel 30:6b, “But David strengthened himself in the LORD his God.” David did this in the midst of being pursued by Saul, being rejected by the Philistines, and being ready to be stoned by his own men who blamed him for their wives being captured by the Amalekites! But David did not lose heart, he “strengthened [encouraged] himself in the LORD his God.” David also reminds us in Psalm 56:3-4, “Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You…I will not fear. What can flesh do to me?”
God is able to use all of the events in our lives to bring us into a new a better relationship with Himself. God used the Iraq War in my life to show me His sovereignty. My life is to be lived for Him, because He, alone, is God, and I am not. Nick Swarthout states it best when he said, “I have been shot at, scared, bombed, terrified, intimidated, stressed, lonely, and anxious, depressed, blown up, attacked, and broken down, all of which have led me to my life’s purpose that I have found in Him, to bring Him honor, glory, and praise through my worship to Him and my service for Him and His people.” The life we live is all about Him! He alone is worthy of honor, glory, and praise! Why? Answer: Because God is sovereign, and we are not.
The Iraq War strengthened my faith by allowing me to learn that life is short and should be lived for the glory of God and the good of others. Also, I learned that God does exactly what He wants…He is absolutely sovereign. President George W. Bush, who was my Commander-in-Chief, once wrote in his autobiography, Decision Points: “There are things we got wrong in Iraq, but that cause [giving 25 million Iraqis freedom] is eternally right.” As for me, there were things I got wrong in my participation in the Iraq War; however, by the grace of God, I am here today, and have learned some valuable lessons that I will never forget.