V-MAIL TO THE FRONTLINE
I wanted to begin this year with a new, fresh series of essays and I am excited to see what the Lord has for us. As we continue to learn about faith and are more determined than ever to walk out our convictions, I realize how crucial it is to stay in God’s word and in prayer. I consider each one of you a warrior of integrity and respect your testimony and ministry within God’s Kingdom. I have been praying for a title for the series and it kept coming to me about how each of you are fighting on the spiritual “frontline” in God’s Kingdom and like literal soldiers on the battlefield who enjoy letters from those who love and support them, maybe the Lord could continue using me to send letters of encouragement to you. As I kept searching for something unique with the idea of letters or mail and in a military context, the Lord revealed a true story to me that I found to be the perfect allegory.
When wars are fought in distant lands it is very important to stay connected with loved ones as it allows the bond of hope to remain strong. Mail-call has always been and still is one of the highlights of any soldier’s day but in World War II there became a problem with the tremendous amount of letters that were being sent. The weight of the paper, the space it was taking, length of time to deliver, losing the letters and the work to keep up with it all became overwhelming.
The Airgraph Service was first developed by the British using microphotography as a way to minimize the space and have better organization at the same time. The United States adopted this idea and renamed it V-mail (for “VICTORY” mail) on June 15th, 1942 and used it until April 1st, 1945. A person who wanted to send a letter by V-mail would obtain a pre-printed form from the Post Office or drug store and could write up to a 300 word message. The form was then sent to a processing center where it was opened and fed through a machine that photographed the letters on 16mm film. A continuous 100 foot roll of film could hold 1700 messages and with the metal container it was housed in, weighed 5.5 oz. A sack of mail holding the same number of regular letters would have weighed 50 lbs. When the V-mail reached the destination the process was reversed and the letters were printed for distribution. This is where the idea came from to name this year’s theme, “V-MAIL TO THE FRONTLINE” as a parallel from our modern E-MAIL. Of course the “front line” pertains to those in the heat of battle and I cannot think of a more appropriate symbolism than our daily walk in the fires of spiritual warfare.
We need all the encouragement and spiritual VICTORY-MAIL we can get to bring the strength of God’s Word to you that are fighting the daily battle on the frontline! It is crucial to stay focused on God and gain strength with His daily nourishment. This is the “behind the scenes” story of how the title came about. These writings are not just a glimpse of the intentions of my heart they are given to me through the Holy Spirit. In this light I am just a messenger and give all glory to the real author.
MORE OF HIM – LESS OF ME
Washington Irving once said, “Small minds are tamed and subdued by misfortune but great minds have purpose and rise above them.” I have been to the valley of despair; it is the most miserable place anyone could ever be. I do not enjoy anything about it and though I have never seen or felt a literal hell – I would cast my vote that depression is earth’s version of it. Have you ever noticed how discouragement paralyzes and encouragement motivates? I know what it is like to suffer emotionally and to be consumed with the torture that comes from being offended, hurt, neglected, backstabbed, deceived, not appreciated and disappointed. At times we all wrestle with different demons that cause torment within our mind and soul as they are either targeting us as victims or taunting us with our own mistakes. And while we are walking over these hot coals of gloom it usually does not make us feel any better to hear the old saying, “it is not the crisis but our reaction”. But beyond the blinding pain there is a truth in that statement which actually holds the key that can unlock the door to our healing. Jesus stands on the other side of this door and if we can stop crying long enough and let Him in, then hopefully we can also allow Him to fix what is broken. Do we believe He can solve any problem? Most of us believe that but there is a huge difference between acknowledging His power and receiving His miracle. It is the agony of waiting until he does come through that nearly kills us. Is the pain real? Absolutely! Whether it is physical pain in a sickness or injury or the mental nightmares that torture us and keep us in the bondage of anxiety and affliction – it is very real! Here is a huge question; how can we live as an overcomer while we are “in-between” the suffering and the miracle? Somehow, someway we must see ourselves as a little child that has climbed a tree and cannot get down. With “daddy” down below beckoning us to jump and reassuring us that He will not let anything bad happen to us, we take a leap of innocent TRUST.
Faith KNOWS and has confidence in things we cannot see. Is this easy? Absolutely not! It sounds simple for those who are not going through situations because they are not experiencing the trauma and paralyzing desperation. However, just because no one else can relate to our circumstance, does that mean that what they are saying is not true? Selah. If we are walking in a dry and windy desert and others are trying to comfort us, may we not grow bitter toward them just because they are not being tortured also. I realize that many times that we feel worse about how our problems are affecting others. For example if a husband and father loses his income and cannot pay the bills, it is the wife and children that becomes the center of his stress and worries. He not only is ripped apart by the original situation but now has the weight of guilt and failure because he sees himself as the one who is responsible to provide. Even though he “knows” that God owns all the money in the world that does not automatically put money in HIS bank. No, my friend, faith is one of the most challenging demonstrations we will ever face, but again, that does not mean it is not true or that God will not honor it for you. If there is even a tiny chance the Lord could fail, we would not be able to exist. But since He is perfect we can rest in knowing that He sees us, hears us and will rescue us.
I realize there are chemical imbalances and psychological disorders in these fragile housings and times when we are genuinely attacked and wounded but strong soldiers cannot curl up in a fetal position in the foxhole and pull the blanket over their head. Pity parties are where seasoned veterans tie a handkerchief to their machine gun and begin to wave it to the world as a message of surrender. But allow me to ask; how can battles be won when we give up on our faith and confidence in God? There is so much work for us to do, so many which are watching us, so many souls that need Jesus, so much word that needs to be spoken. The only surrender we should ever yield to is – not my will but thy will oh God. Giving up is not the nature of Jesus because people are depending on us, they need our prayers, our time, our help and our encouragement. Yes, there will be hard times when we are punched right in the mouth and there will be seasons when we have done everything we know to do and it seems that nothing is happening. But in these valleys that feel like the shadow of death we must become desperately serious about shutting ourselves in our prayer closet and be determined to not come out until our mind is renewed. He will encourage us IF we ask Him! He loves us and wants to do a deep work in us, but we need to remember that things are not always the way they seem. Ask Him to allow you to see true reality instead of a generic view that leans heavily on our own understanding. After a season of mourning and feeling sorry for ourselves there must be a time when we rise, put our armor back on and return to the battlefield in the confidence that God wants to work through us and be seen in us. How can we be an encouragement to others if we are so sad that we cannot get out of bed?
How many will discover the revelation of seeing themselves in the telescope of the “big picture” instead of focusing in the microscope of self? People who believe that everything revolves around them, who are self-centered and are always only concerned about their feelings usually have a pocket full of tickets to ride the roller coaster of discouragement. At times I have been one of these people and it is amazing how I could not see how self-centered I could be. Serving the god of “self” is idolatry. We all need not just a revelation of Jesus Christ but a revelation of our own heart. Selah. First we must desire to see the reality within our conscience, second we must be willing to deal with it and third we must be ready to pay the price to have it changed. It is unpopular to acknowledge but many times our frustrations are the result of not cooperating with God’s intervention. (I need to write that down) M.D. Babcock was quoted, “The tests of life are to make us, not break us. Trouble may demolish a man’s business but build up his character. The blow at the outward man may be the greatest blessing to the inner man. If God, then, puts or permits anything hard in our lives – be sure that the real peril, the real trouble, is that we shall miss the point if we rebel against it.”
One of the best ways to snap out of depression is to get up and go somewhere with the intent of helping someone. Pull yourself away from the mirror long enough to see how others are living and your problems will begin to fade. Walk through a children’s cancer ward at a hospital or read foxes book of martyr’s and all of a sudden you may think your life is not really as bad as you thought it was. Take a pen and paper and write down all of your blessings and I promise that your glass will appear half full! If we do not learn from our trials then our distress has been a waste. Crisis situations are opportunities to put our faith and patience to work! How can we be defeated when God is for us and working constantly on our behalf? He was even involved in the middle of Job’s trial. Maybe the reason we struggle is because we are fighting Him for the steering wheel. If we let Him drive I believe we would be more likely to enjoy the ride, don’t you? Is there such a thing as counting it all joy when the blacksmith is holding us to the fire and shaping us with His hammer? I’m not saying it is easy but actually, yes. We may suffer trauma, turmoil or even persecution and no doubt a time of being uncomfortable but we must eventually get back up and dust ourselves off in order to get back into the race. Remember when the blacksmith is finished with his piece he does not throw it in the corner and forget about it. He has worked hard to produce his vision because he intends to use it for his specific purpose. God knew you and planned you before the foundation of the world and has been taking care of all the fine details to bring you to this place and has every intention to use you NOW more than ever before! He is trying day and night to polish you and challenge you to be a strong and effective instrument to accomplish His purposes. Sure, the world is falling apart because of sin but that is exactly why we cannot afford to throw in the towel. Do not allow unforgiveness, bitterness or being offended to render you powerless. True healing is all about forgiveness, letting go, turning the page and continuing to move forward. To remain wounded is to be plagued with the ongoing torture of infection. It is time to advance to the next level of maturity and let the wounds turn to scars (from the inside out) that not only remind us how God is our “Jehovah Rapha” but as a vital part of our spiritual education. The deeper the pain the more valuable the lesson and as you learn from the trials, allow them to build your character so you can teach from your experiences. To God you are a masterpiece! Pray for awareness and understanding. Watch carefully for His hand and listen intently for His whisper. “My son, despise not the chastening of the Lord; neither be weary of His correction.” (Proverbs 3:11)