Preparing for Battle
Last weekend I was back in Boston. Lauryn and the kids stayed home while I joined eight other church planters for a time of fellowship, renewal, and spiritual retreat. Coincidently (or rather “providentially”) the retreat took place in and around East Boston, our intended location for church planting. This was a cool opportunity for me to go back to explore the area, network with locals, and check out places to live, while simultaneously connecting with men on a similar journey of church planting. These new friends are guys with the unique temperament for living in counterculture ways, headstrong on a vision, and not afraid of the unknown. Most of these men are further down the road from me and have valuable experiences to learn from and shoot towards. I thoroughly enjoyed our conversations.
We spent Saturday touring Boston’s historic sites and learning from our surroundings. We walked by Paul Revere’s house, sat in the Old North Church, and stood in the shadow of the Bunker Hill monument. But my favorite stop was the Boston Naval Yard where we happened upon a guided tour of the USS Cassin Young, a World War II destroyer. Here our guide shared the heroic stories of bravery and sacrifice these sailors endured, many of whom were only 19 years old. I was most stuck by the thought shared that on this ship, intended and constructed for speed, there was little armor (bulkheads less than a half inch think) protecting unsuspecting men below deck from even the smallest of enemy fire. We were also reminded that the intended use of this vessel was to rush to the front of any battle line, sacrificing it’s 300-some souls, to protect a supply ship or aircraft carrier with it’s 3000 lives. There is no question one cannot tour such a site without leaving with a profound respect for the courage of men who would voluntarily serve in such a capacity.
I left feeling inspired and in deep thought, with many questions about myself: Would I ever be so willing to put myself in harm’s way knowing the risk? Are we not also, in some spiritual sense, being sent to the front lines as we begin this journey of church planting? What types of spiritual attacks should we expect? Where am I most vulnerable? How much do I trust the Captain and his intended mission for me?
The rest of the weekend proved fruitful in conversations with my fellow planters and friends in Boston. I left the weekend feeling encouraged and confirmed in our call, but with the reality of this journey sinking in and growing closer by the day.
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In closing, let me share one other bit of information I gleaned from our time aboard the Cassin Young. Our guide explained that each sailor had three jobs: a work assignment, a battle station, and a damage control role. I thought that was profound. Shouldn’t that be true of all of followers of Christ? We are all uniquely gifted with spiritual and physical abilities, but shouldn’t we also have the readiness for sharing our faith and responding to others in crisis? I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve been guilty of excusing myself from a task or delegating it to another because it wasn’t “my gift.” Let us be reminded of the seriousness of this journey of faith and be equally equipped for whatever and wherever the Lord should take us.