In his diary, January 10, 1862, a Civil War soldier wrote: “This is a grand expedition and I hope it may prove to be a successful one.” Three days later, on January 13, snow, wet grounds and cold made him think of home. “O, how much better it would have been for both parties, could this unhappy war have been avoided. We might all have been at home this stormy night enjoying the comforts of a comfortable fire.” In just three days an entirely different view of war.
A young soldier, of whom this writer’s dad was one, wallowing in the trenches of France during WWI, at first considered war a lark. “Every minute here is worth weeks of ordinary experience,” he wrote. “This will spoil one for any other kind of life.” He played a different song a few days later. “We are not leading the life of men at all,” he moaned, “but that of animals, living in holes in the ground, and only showing outside to fight and to feed.”
I can barely remember any stories dad told of his WWI experiences. He did mention a fellow soldier named Rothrock. And a soldier who carefully polished the toes of his boots, paid no attention to the heels, and was severely reprimanded by a commanding officer. And piles of dead soldiers being buried by men wearing gas masks for protection against the stench.
Whatever experiences we have, they change and, sometimes, change us right along with them. We soar into euphoria with victory and plummet to despair under the lashings of misfortune and defeat.
The same effect works in our Christian life. We feel “fine” in the zephyr of soft, warm experiences. Then, when life’s gales blow against us, we call “Quarter.” Fortuity finds us happy; adversity makes us sad.
We’re silly to be subject to life’s indiscriminate moods. As Paul wrote in Philippians 4:10-13, Jesus teaches us to be filled whatever the situation, with little or much, in joy or in sorrow. Our place with God has nothing to do with the circumstances of life; or with our moods or experiences. We are filled if belonging to Jesus remains our core desire, our single aim, our only intention.