One Stripe                     

A Devotional Snapshot


by God's Little Boy
© 2014
Posted 2/20/14


I recently finished a three week project in the home of a certain man who is a retired Gunnery Sergeant from the United States Marine Corps. He began serving in the Vietnam war, but saw combat action while in Beirut in the early 80's. He was heavily decorated, his "shadow box" was filled with medals including the purple heart. His father, also a well decorated sergeant, (Army) was a WWII veteran who fought in the Battle of the Bulge. I was permitted to hold and examine the actual map that his father had used in that battle.

During the time I was in his home we spoke about many things. The Marine Corps had been much of his life and he told me stories and explained much about the Marines. One day he gave me a pin with the Gunnery Sergeant rank insignia (three stripes up, two down, with crossed rifles in the middle) and a Marine Corps flag. He told me that I had been promoted to Gunnery Sergeant and started calling me "Gunny." Even though I knew he was just having fun, I immediately had the sense that I had no business even holding that Gunnery Sergeant pin because, in reality, I was not a Marine. I did not go thru the training or pay the price that it takes to be called a Marine. When it comes to the armed forces everything that can be attained has to be earned.

This "real" Sergeant, that I had been working for, loaned me a well known movie about the D Day invasion on Omaha Beach. After seeing the film there was one thing in particular that stood out, in my mind. When warfare becomes intense, all of the external training a soldier has received may not be enough. And on the battle field an insignia on a uniform may prove to be a vain thing. It really comes down to the substance that each individual soldier possesses on the inside. In the heat of the most intense battle, when all hell breaks loose and it becomes a game of desperate survival, the only thing that may rise to the occasion is a heart that is battle ready. Bullets and artillery shells are no respecter of persons, they will kill a captain as easily as they will a private. In these instances, even officers have lost heart and folded under pressure. There are moments in a battle when the officers and the enlisted men become equal peers in defeating the enemy and surviving the perils of the conflict. There have been occasions when the lowly rifle toting private has changed the outcome of a battle with nothing more than a clear head, a heart of valour, and several well placed shots.

Sergeant stripes? Who needs em! Captain Bars? Overrated! Give the battle ready soldier a good rifle and stay out of his way! The objective is to win the war. Most soldiers are right where they should be with a single stripe on their sleeve and bearing arms in the conflict. And in the spiritual warfare that we face in this world, most men do not have to climb too high to find their first best destiny. If a soldier is made of the right stuff and is doing his part in service, then it is enough if he should have but only One Stripe.


"Endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ." (2 Timothy 2:3b)




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