In your hands – December 31, 2021

My times are in your hands; deliver me from my enemies and from those who pursue me.
Psalm 31:15


Military Devotion – December 31, 2021

Devotion based on Psalm 31:15

See series: Military Devotions

It was New Year’s Eve Day 1967. The Wisconsin family was watching on TV as the Dallas Cowboys invaded Lambeau Field to do battle with the Green Bay Packers. Sub-zero weather stressed the combatants. There might have been some frostbite, but no one died.

A last-minute quarterback sneak gave the victory to the Green and Gold. The family cheered. The exhilaration carried through into New Years’ Day. Even today, the eyes of Packer fans will light up when someone mentions the “Ice Bowl.”

The next day, but seven time zones ahead, a member of that family was watching as massive human waves of NVA and VC were attacking his position at Fire Support Base Burt near the Cambodian border.

They battled desperately throughout the night. Some of the fighting was hand-to-hand. Sunrise showed a landscape of dead bodies as the enemy withdrew. Some wore American uniforms and were close-to-the-heart battle buddies of that soldier from Wisconsin.

No one cheered. Even today, the eyes of the American soldiers in the 2-22 (the Triple Deuce) and its brother units will tear up when someone mentions the Battle of Suoi Cut. To this day, nightmares and flashbacks continue to plague the victorious Americans, now grown old.

For the family in Wisconsin, it was one of the best of times. For the one in Vietnam, one of the worst. Was this just a matter of luck?

The Old Testament warrior, King David, knew that his life was not governed by chance. Success or failure was not solely the result of skill and training. A state of war or peace did not rest with the skills of the diplomat. He was not a self-made man, nor was he a citizen of a nation that could control its future.

“My times are in your hands,” the warrior-king called out. The psalm begins with the declaration: “In you, O LORD, I have taken refuge…”

That was a good way for him to start this psalm. It’s a good way for us to start a New Year.

That soldier in the 2-22 could have found himself in far different circumstances on that New Year’s Day. He had spent eight years in preparation to become a WELS pastor. His grades were excellent. Had he stayed the course, he could have been with loved ones watching the Ice Bowl.

Within a few years, he could have been a pastor preaching a New Year’s Eve sermon and, perhaps, distributing Holy Communion to his congregation.

How different his life would have been! What wonderful times he might have had!

But that was not the path the Lord had planned for him. As he approached the end of his college training, he was led to enter the U.S. Army instead of Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary.

Whether as layman or clergy, his times would be in his Lord’s hands.

This does not mean that if he had chosen the parish ministry, his life would have been danger-free. A student several years younger had chosen to attend the seminary—and was killed in a traffic accident the night before he would have graduated.

Who knows what the future holds? Good thing we know who holds the future!

This is the time of year when we look ahead and wonder what the year will bring. Some folks make New Year’s resolutions to plan their future path in life.

That’s not bad. But that is no guarantee that our life will follow that path.

Instead of becoming discouraged over this lack of personal control, we can look ahead with confident courage.

We just celebrated the entrance into our world by the almighty Son of God who waged war against the powers of darkness and sacrificed himself to give us victory over death.

What’s ahead for us in 2022? We don’t need to know. Our Savior God knows.

And we will remain in his hands.

Prayer: For the blessings given over years past, for the protection provided by angels, and for the forgiveness you earned for us, we thank you, Lord God. Lead us by your hand in the coming year. Keep us in your hands every step of the way. Amen.

Written by Rev. Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military, Belle Plaine, Minnesota.

All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. Note: Scripture reading footnotes are clickable only in the web version.

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