News Articles

FIRST-PERSON: Reflections from the battlefield

EDITORS’ NOTE: A Navy JAG officer in Iraq, whose named here has been changed to Robert Brick for security reasons, wrote the following e-mail to his Southern Baptist pastor, family and friends, relayed to Baptist Press courtesy of the Florida Baptist Witness. A letter to his daughter at Christmas was published by Baptist Press Dec. 22.

BAGHDAD, Iraq (BP)–As I look back on my first six weeks in this war zone, I believe that the Lord has changed me more than He has used me to minister to others. It’s similar to a foreign missions trip where we Americans often leave with the purest intentions of making a difference in the lives of others, only to realize that it is often ourselves who are changed the most by the experience.

I’ve thought a lot about the last sermon I heard before I left. It was titled, “When Storms Come Our Way.” My pastor began by pointing out that the storms of life serve to remind us that we can depend on God (Psalm 139:5-12). He preached that in responding to life’s storms we need to trust in the Lord (Proverbs 3:5-6), release our grief (Matthew 5:4), receive help from others (Galatians 6:2), refuse to be bitter (Job 21:25), remember what’s important (1 Timothy 6:7), and rely on Christ (Psalm 125:1 and 2 Corinthians 1:9-10).

Release your grief. As I read Psalm 6:6, I feel David’s anguish and I can relate: “I am worn out from groaning; all night long I flood my bed with weeping and drench my couch with tears.” That is a man exhausted from battle, separated from his family and totally dependent on God. I knew I would miss my wife (we celebrated our second anniversary last week) and daughter, but I had no idea it would be this painful. I knew I was coming to war, but I had no idea how draining it can be to live in constant danger of enemy attack and to watch people all around you die.

Receive help from others. Of course, that means sharing your emotions and your struggles with others so they know how to help or encourage you. I’ll blame it on my humble upbringing, but sharing my deepest emotions has never been easy for me. Yet from the moment I left (my wife says she will never forget the emotions that spewed forth on the morning I kissed her and my then six-week-old daughter goodbye), the Lord began using this experience to force me to open up and share with others. Again, David’s Psalms take on a whole new intimate meaning. The Life Application Bible points out that there are no clichés in the Book of Psalms. There is no “How are you doing?” responded to by a pithy “Fine, how about you?” No, David shares his sorrow, his anguish, his emotion and, yes, his total reliance on God for strength and sustainment. He shares this so that others may draw strength from his experience and so they, too, can draw closer to God.

Remember what is important. Suddenly, career advancement or what job I’m working seems pretty insignificant compared to spending quality time with my wife and daughter. All those hours I spent working late at the office seem so wasted as I crave the chance to spend just one minute with my wife and daughter. I’m reminded of a metaphor a spiritual mentor shared with me.

Think of God’s will for us as a meadow. He wants us to simply glorify Him by totally surrendering to Him. This is the meadow — the meadow of total surrender. Each day we wake up and find ourselves asking the Lord, “Should I go fish in the brook, or should I pick oranges today?” The Lord replies, “It doesn’t matter, just stay in the meadow.” We, and I mean I, spend so much time focused on that which matters least. Instead of focusing primarily on becoming more like Christ, I spend most of my time focused on the temporal things of this world — worrying about what I should do, instead of who I should be. Lord, forgive me.

Rely on Christ. “The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer…. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold” (Psalm 18:1-2).

When my wife and I were married, it was clearly a “God thing.” The way He brought us together defied human explanation. So we were frustrated, disappointed and on the verge of being disillusioned by the challenges of the first two years of marriage. Our reality simply didn’t match up to our expectations. After all, if this was God’s will, shouldn’t things be easier for us than for our unsaved friends who seem to float through the first years of marriage? But, of course, that’s not how one learns total reliance on Christ.

And, so, sitting here at Camp Victory in Iraq, the Lord is again teaching me total reliance on Him and reminding me of what is important in life.

Looking ahead, I am reminded of how much I have to be thankful for: my “Proverbs 31” wife, my adorable baby girl, my loving and supportive family and friends and a praying family of Christ. I am thankful for the many believers who are praying for my safety and for encouragement for my wife. I’ve received e-mails of encouragement and promises of prayers from so many people that I have never met. What a blessing it is to be part of the family of Christ! Most of all, I’m thankful for God’s promise to continue His work in my life (Philippians 1:6).

God bless you … and may God continue to bless America.

Serving Him with you,

Robert Brick

    About the Author

  • Robert Brick