I just can’t do it anymore… Ever felt like that? It happens to the best of us!
I remember the days I was in the army, the army reserves to be more correct! Those were tough days!
The army has a way of sorting out the men from the boys, from those who can keep going and those who give up, from those who can run and those who can’t.
I really enjoyed my time in the army for it taught me many skills.
One memory that stands out to me was the importance of relying on your mate, your partner, the one who you were paired with to protect, to cover and who was to do the same to you. We’d be on the march all day, with our heavy packs containing our rations for the next however many days, our clothes, basha (one man army tents), water supply and anything else we were bothered to bring.
What we brought we had to carry with us everywhere!
There was no respite… it was go, go, go… from dawn till dusk. We always had to be on the lookout for our enemy (the regs) who were season soldiers, mean, tough… Or so we were told! It certainly served to put the fear of them into us and make sure we were never ambushed by them!
As I’m marching through scrub, marsh, jungle, up mountains I am always reminded of my backpack, that load I was carrying. Only eating made it lighter but that wasn’t often enough!!
Once night fell we were all deployed into our designated positions and then more work began. One had to keep vigilant watch while the other dug his hole, placed his sleeping gear down inside and then his basha (army tent) over it, keeping it ground level. Nothing was to be above the ground. Once the digging and bed was done then the meal had to be prepared. Only then would we swap places and the routine would begin all over again. It was hard work, I tell you!
Then, on top of all that, we had to take turns keeping watch for every two hours. If that was not enough there was also the need to be taking turns with the machine guns which guarded the two points of entry into our camp.
The nights seemed to be very long and it didn’t help knowing that another gruelling day of marching would happen at the crack of dawn the next day. We would need to pack everything up, fill in the holes neatly and then continue forward. This would go on for three, four, five days! There was no respite.
Some of us gave up, we just couldn’t do it anymore. For those of us who did give up – well, that wasn’t the end either! We had to join what was called the sand shoe brigade – these were the guys who no longer walked in their army boots but rather wore sand shoes. There had to be a medical reason for us to give up and not go on.
I ponder upon those days and thought of the many times I wanted to give up… but never did! My feet were aching, my body was sore, I had blisters, I was tired and exhausted from all the hiking, digging, sleepless nights keeping watch and many times I felt like dying. But, I was determined to not give up. I wanted to keep going, proving to my staff-sergeant that I could carry on, that I was capable, that I was dependable, that I could actually be a real soldier!
It was hard yakka but I made it! For four years I did this, subjecting my body to all this torture! The week I quit the army I discovered I had earned my first stripes. 🙂
I realise now how my time in the army actually prepared me for life, how it taught me to persevere and not give up, and how it taught me the importance of supporting one another for we were only as strong as our weakest link.
Life has brought me many difficult seasons, tough times where so often I felt like… I just can’t go on anymore. I’m so glad I never gave up. The end is so worth it. The army taught me to never give up, to never say, “I just can’t do it anymore!”
The army also taught me the importance of sharing the load, that our strength lies in us working together, supporting each other. My life lessons have taught me how much I need others to walk with me, support me, help to give me strength.
I don’t know where I’d be today if were not for the Lord giving me the strength to keep on keeping on. He has given me this inner strength and his peace has been like a blanket covering me during my storms of life, even the darkest storms. He has placed important people in my life who have believed in me, supported me, encouraged me, cheered me on… People like my incredible wife, my family, my many friends and even people I didn’t know well.
I’m now beginning to understand what James meant when he wrote: “Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” Yes, the army did help me to mature and become more complete but persevering in this life has done an even greater work in making me more mature and complete. I know I’m not finished yet, there’s still more maturing and completing to do because there are still areas of lack in my life! But, I am on the journey to being so…
One thing I know… I want to finish well! It’s not how I start my journey that counts, it’s how I finish it!
And that back pack… well, that’s worth writing about in another blog! 🙂
Until then, it’s over to you.
Have you had those experiences where you just wanted to give up, curl up and just disappear? How did you handle it? What have these times taught you? Do you see yourself finishing well?