To Battle We Go: Readiness
By: Dr. Steve Kellner
The phone call invariably came in the middle of the night. “Report to the company area with all your gear in one hour for a full field layout.” I would groggily roll out of bed, throw on my uniform, and grab my field gear, which included a duffle bag, a rucksack, and another large duffle containing my Nuclear-Biological-Chemical suit (sealed in aluminum foil), more than a hundred pounds of equipment altogether. Then the short drive to the base, Ft. Stewart, GA, to get to the band building.
Once there, my fellow band members and I unpacked our gear and laid it all out on the ground in a carefully prescribed order, so that our officers and NCOs could inspect it to make sure we had everything we had been issued and that it was all in working order. Any deficiency was noted, and appropriate corrective action taken.
All this was done in the name of “readiness”, the US military’s term for, and obsession with, having the personnel, equipment, and training necessary to deploy immediately anywhere in the world. My division, the 24th Infantry Division (Mechanized), was part of the Rapid Deployment Force, and thus always had to be at the highest level of readiness. In addition to full field layout alerts, we also piled into the base gym every three months to update our wills and immunizations, and sign proxy paperwork so our wives and family members could drive our cars off the base if we were suddenly deployed.
The gear we carried could be broken down into three categories: Things that protected us, like the NBC suit, a gas mask, and a shelter half (half a tent). Things that sustained and nourished us, like a canteen, a mess kit, and K-rations. And things that we needed to fight, like a rifle, a bayonet, ammunition, grenades, and a combat knife. (We had a lot of fighting equipment!)
What might be included in a Salvationist’s field gear? To start with, things that protect us, like putting on the whole armor of God, the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shield of faith, and the helmet of salvation. Then, things that sustain and nourish us, like Bible reading, prayer, worship, and fellowship. And finally, things we need for spiritual warfare, like a bias for action, putting others first, a willingness to serve, being ready to provide a reason for the hope that is within us. And don’t forget the “sword of the Spirit”, the Word of God.
Perhaps we all need to do a spiritual full field layout to see if we are truly ready to be effective Salvationists “at any time, and anywhere”, as the old chorus says. Do you have all the necessary equipment, and is it all in working order? Ask the Lord to help you do a thorough inspection, as King David often did. But don’t do it in the middle of the night!