To Battle We Go: Travelin’ Light

By: Dr. Steve Kellner

In an earlier column, I wrote about our military’s obsession with combat readiness, and the amount of equipment I was issued as a member of the 24th Infantry Division Band so that I would be ready to deploy at a moment’s notice. This included a 75-pound rucksack and two very large duffle bags of additional equipment and supplies, to say nothing of carrying my euphonium! No soldier wants to go into battle unprepared, so we willingly accepted carrying such a heavy load. 

But a curious thing happens as soldiers get near to battle. They begin to discard equipment, especially the heavier stuff, and the closer they get to actual combat the more they throw away. By the time the shooting starts most soldiers are down to just their rifle, their ammunition, a canteen of water, a medical kit, and maybe a few cans of K-rations or MRE’s. When faced with combat, soldiers want to travel light so they can move fast, preserve energy, and respond to the ever-changing battlefield conditions. 

During the American Revolution and the Civil War, so much equipment would be strewn on the roads and fields leading to the battlefields that it sometimes slowed down the movement of troops, and the supply corps would have to send out wagons to pick it all up so that it could be reissued after the battle was over. 

If this kind of load lightening sounds familiar, it’s probably because we have read about the same phenomena in the Bible. Think of David telling King Saul that his royal armor was too heavy for him and that he would fight Goliath with just a sling and five smooth stones, or of God instructing Gideon to reduce his army to just 300 men, who then defeated the Midianites by blowing trumpets and smashing clay jars. 

We Salvationists understandably want to be well-equipped for the wide variety of ministries and programs we offer. And there is certainly nothing wrong with wanting to be prepared to give our best to the Lord and to those we serve. At the same time, we must be flexible and ready to change direction at a moment’s notice, and to minister effectively even when we don’t have everything we need. And a strong case can be made that we don’t need nearly as much as we think we do to get the job done. 

So do what you can do be prepared for whatever ministry the Lord directs you to do. But be ready also to travel light, to discard anything that prevents you from moving fast and changing course when necessary. And don’t forget your euphonium!