By Katie Mulder: Texan by birth, Michigander by marriage, farmer by Divine humor.
Happy Birthday, America! You have been free from Great Britain’s reign for 236 years following a glorious statement in the American Revolution and some well-known poetry in the Declaration of Independence.
I’m a child of the military, you know, so I understand what it is to find your identity so deeply entangled in a mess of politics and policy, war and religion. My life has been governed, both directly and indirectly, by two forms of authority: the United States Military (thanks to a father who willingly served for 20 years) and the Bible (thanks to a family who instilled the discipline of religion at a young age).
Today is a good day to put pen to paper—as Mister Jefferson and friends did so many years ago—and reflect on some basic truths of life that the military and the Word have taught me.
[Excerpts from A Manual of Military Training, by James A. Moss. Published in 1917.]
[Scripture quoted from the Holy Bible, translations noted.]
- Never exercise immediately after a meal; digestion is more important at this time than extraneous exercise (page 155). This rule has always served me well. Indeed, there is a season and time for every purpose under heaven (Ecclesiastes 3:1, NKJV). While Solomon neglected to mention digestion in his examples, I am sure it was implied.
- Remember, that if by harsh or unfair treatment you destroy a man’s self-respect, you at the same time destroy his usefulness (page 180). Choose your tactics wisely. It’s always better to build a man up than tear him down. A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones (Proverbs 17:22, ESV). Dry bones are never very much help with chores or friendship.
- Do not attempt complicated maneuvers (page 101). It’s best to leave the tricky stuff up to the Man in charge. You may very well play a part in the action, but step back until called. For everyone’s sake. The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace (Exodus 14:14, NKJV). Hold your peace. Amen.
- In any situation, to try to escape the issue by running is the worst and most dangerous course the infantry can adopt (page 108). My instinct to flee in tough times is strong. Fear has always driven mankind to run. But Paul is right. If all else fails, staple your boots to the floor. Help will be along shortly. Stand firm and hold to traditions you were taught! (Paul in 2 Thessalonians 2:15, ESV)
And, to echo mothers everywhere:
- Courtesy…is indispensable to discipline; respect to superiors will not be confined to obedience on duty, but will be extended on all occasions (page 424). I was never treated with more respect and kindness as a child than when I walked the halls of the barracks. ‘Ma’am’ and ‘Lady’ were automatic… and it made me stand taller. Even at 7 years old. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you (Ephesians 4:32, ESV). It is remarkable, the difference a kind word makes.
You were born of war, America. Of the desire to be free, both inwardly and outwardly. These books … they are not so very different. Training soldiers of freedom; training soldiers of Truth. And while we are so careful to separate our God and our Country these days, today I will celebrate you both. For One has given the other, and we are blessed.
Happy Birthday, my fair country. It’s your day. You wear your colors well.
God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea.
- from America the Beautiful by Katharine Lee Bates
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