My name is Sergeant Jackson

237

By Alan Smith

The following story is told by a young Army recruit:

“My brother and I arrived at boot camp together. On the first morning, our unit was dragged out of bed by our drill sergeant and made to assemble outside. “My name’s Sergeant Jackson,” he snarled. “Is there anyone here who thinks he can whip me?”

My six-foot-three, 280-pound brother raised his hand and said, “Yes, sir, I do.”

Our sergeant grabbed him by the arm and led him out in front of the group.  “Men,” he said, “this is my new assistant. Now, is there anyone here who thinks he can whip both of us?”

It’s nice to have someone that is big and strong who “has your back”! It’s the feeling you may have experienced as a kid when the class bully picked on every day at school, until the day your big brother walked in with you. He didn’t even have to say a word. Everyone knew that to mess with you was to mess with him, and nobody wanted to mess with someone bigger and stronger than they were.

There may be times in our lives when we feel like we can take on the whole world and come out on top. But those times are rare. More often, we feel overwhelmed by the challenge of a world that seems much bigger and stronger than we are. If we arrogantly want to know if there’s anybody who thinks they can whip us, be assured there are folks who will be quick to take up that challenge.

However, those of us who are Christians need to remember that we don’t face any challenge alone. God’s Spirit lives within us and God has promised to be with us. With the confidence that comes with that knowledge, we are able to ask, “Is there anyone who thinks they can whip both of us?” and the answer is a resounding, “No!” because “He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” (I John 4:4).

That’s why, when Moses was hesitant to go to the land of Egypt and confront Pharaoh, God said, “I will certainly be with you.” (Exodus 3:12)

When Joshua was hesitant to take over the leadership of the Israelites, God said, “As I was with Moses, I will be with you. I will not leave you and forsake you.” (Joshua 1:5)

When Gideon thought he was too insignificant to be a leader, God said, “Surely I will be with you!” (Joshua 6:16)

When Jeremiah thought he was too young to be a prophet, God said, “Do not be afraid of their faces, for I am with you.” (Jeremiah 1:8)

When Jesus sent out the apostles charged with the task of sharing the gospel with the whole world, Jesus said, “Lo, I am with you always.” (Matthew 28:20)

When we are faced with an overwhelming responsibility to live out the message of Christ in an antagonistic world, we need to remember that we have the same promise — God will be with us. And “if God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31). Take courage, my brother (and sister) — there’s nobody strong enough to whip the both of us!

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