A man who gives in to temptation after five minutes simply does not know what it would have been like an hour later. That is why bad people, in one sense, know very little about badness. They have lived a sheltered life by always giving in. We never find out the strength of the evil impulse inside us until we try to fight it: and Christ, because He was the only man who never yielded to temptation, is also the man who knows to the full what temptation means-the only complete realist. (C.S. Lewis, “Mere Christianity” pg 142)
Then comes another discovery. Every faculty you have, your power of thinking or of moving your limbs from moment to moment, is given you by God. If you devoted every moment of your whole life exclusively to His service you could not give Him anything that was not in a sense His own already. (C.S. Lewis, “Mere Christianity” pg 143)
Blessings friends! Sorry for the long break. I am currently coming to the conclusion of a 15-day training exercise with the Georgia Army National Guard. I am supposed to be on duty in less than an hour, but I had to hit pause and post for y’all. It has been way too long, and I have some wisdom from God to share. But before we get there, let me get you spun up on where we are right now.
The two excerpts above come from C.S. Lewis’ first chapter covering faith in Christianity. For those of you that remember, I have been reading through Lewis’ classic work “Mere Christianity” as the culmination of our 2022 reading list. We read some great pieces of Christian insight this year, including three books from the amazing, Pastor Derwin Gray. I can not believe this year is almost over! I truly hope you have enjoyed what we shared on here, and that you are doing your own reading in whatever spare time you have.
Spare time is something that has been fleeting for me lately. Just a quick overview of this “exercise” I am participating in with the GAARNG. This is my third “Warfighter” with 3ID MCPOD. Four years ago I conducted my first “Warfighter”. From that experience, it motivated me to volunteer to go on a deployment with the GAARNG’s 48 Infantry Brigade Combat Team. A Division “Warfighter” is a graded exercise for top brass to prove they can direct major operations in a mock war scenario. It is a big game of “Risk”. I have served as a Radio Telephone Operator (fancy for sitting behind a FM radio and doing hourly radio checks), a Power Generation Operator (fancy for filling generators with diesel), and now, I have been assisting the highest duty I could garner in my rank and military specialty: the Battle NCO (a fancy term for someone that makes spreadsheets and collects intel for major briefings). After my first “Warfighter”, I vowed that I would never do another, and now, four years later, and currently wrapping up my third exercise, I now realize these field problems are really not so bad (at least when they are over).
3ID’s current Commanding General is the most brilliant leader I have seen. He decided that no weapons would be drawn for the exercise, which enabled soldiers to be able to return to their barracks, or homes, in between their shifts (as opposed to previous Warfighters were everyone was stuck sleeping in the field). His reasoning was that he wanted senior leaders to focus on the learning objectives of the exercise, and not be distracted by tracking sensitive items constantly. I have been working 7 AM to 7 PM, but I quickly learned that I never needed to be there exactly at 7, which brings me to today, and me meeting y’all on here. While “Warfighter” is exceptionally boring for me, I have met some amazing leaders this go round, and have been able to offer some life coaching on two young soldiers. And thanks to the CG of 3ID, I have been able to come home every night and spend time with my beautiful family.
Which brings me to our latest miracle working by God. Here is how God will work in your life, if you give your life to Him. So four years ago, as I previously stated, I did my first Warfighter. It was as I stated before, very boring and did not challenge me in the least bit. I camped in the woods for two weeks and in those moments, God whispered to me and pushed me to do something bold (bold for me at the time). That event led to all of this. The deployment, reading the entire Bible for the third time, leading a Bible Study, writing Common Sense REBORN, writing the CSR Devotional, beginning this blog, changing careers, moving back to Georgia, and settling our family permanently in the beautiful Savannah area. Well, thanks to that first Warfighter, we moved to an amazing neighborhood in the slow, laid back, quaint city of Richmond Hill. We had been renting the perfect three-bedroom house since we made the move. With the ridiculously high housing market, we had no plans to currently buy and had planned to rent for at least one more year, looking to move into ownership this time next year, after the market hopefully cooled (and did not collapse like it did in 2007-2008). Well, God had other plans for us. And the path He provided still at times feels too good to be true.
In late August, after having welcomed SGZ3 to the world, I received a call from our landlord who gave us the challenging news that he was not going to renew our lease. With the current rise of rent and the housing market in our area, our landlord said he needed the home to get his son into more affordable housing. This left my wife and I three months to find a new place to live. In a buyer’s market, this would have been easy, but this is not a buyer’s market. We are still in a seller’s market. For some, learning that you were about to be homeless in a time where the price of rent is outrageous, and the idea of buying, without preparing for such a commitment, is simply out of the question, having a three month time window would cause many to panic and anxiety to sit in. But, thanks to that first Warfighter four years ago, I know who God is, and I know, no matter what the outcome, God was going to take care of things. And, boy did He.
So Mrs. Z and I prayed and God provided. He lined up the timing just right for me to garner the attention of an amazing Buying Agent (a Godly woman who not only goes to our home church, but is next door neighbors to one of the first mentors I had in the Savannah Police Department). The very first property we looked at ended up leading us to the wonderful home we now are working on owning. Thanks to God leading me to the National Guard (and again that first “Warfighter”), I was able to utilize the VA Home Loan.
Let me pause right there and say, thank you America. We truly do live in an amazing country. Do not listen to all the noise out there, if you serve your country, the benefits are truly amazing. There is, of course, the negative aspects of military service: the Post Traumatic Stress, the loss of life, survivor’s guilt, the disabilities, the lingering effects of wars that destroy Veteran’s bodies and minds for decades after their service, which is why I hope you found a Veteran to thank yesterday. But our government does do A LOT to compensate for the time and sacrifices of her Veterans (if they apply for them).
Utilizing the VA Home Loan versus buying my first property myself back in 2007, just for this reason and this reason alone, I will be putting another decade of service in for the National Guard (if not longer). God put us in our forever home. We are next door neighbors to another LEO/GAARNG who shares the common bond of his first Company Commander is my current Battalion Commander, which is another example of God tweaking His miracle to bless us even more. I also just remembered the amazing connection we had with our closing lawyer, who had just self-published his first fiction novel: a racy, romantic thriller, that after we traded stories about the challenges of writing, he stated my current line of writing is where his fan base would have to go after reading his work.
Every prayer we asked was answered in three quick months. We never stressed and God provided a beautiful, new construction home that Mrs. Z and I are in absolute wonder over this amazing blessing. Of course, this blessing comes with a lot of responsibility and we have 360 payments before it is officially ours, but compared to my first property, when I was naive and had no relationship with God, this is a fitting case for the blessings of faith and fellowship versus living a worldly life.
I hope this quick story properly illustrates that miraculous working God we serve. Now, we do feel almost quilty receiving such a blessing when so many in the world are suffering currently as I type this and as you read these words. So with great blessings come even greater responsibilities to pay it forward. And I can not wait to see that unfold.
I wrote way more than I planned, and I am very late for my shift now. I hope to meet y’all on here soon. If for nothing more to share all the amazing music that has been coming out. For today, I will just keep it to one artist, and one perfect song that has stirred my soul, considering our current situation. Jeremy Riddle has not released a full album in over two years. He was the main vocal talent on my favorite Bethel Music work: “Heaven’s Song“. His new album, “Live in the Prayer Room”, which has played in the background for me as I put this post together, is another flawless body of work. And just now, as I typed the title to this album, I had to stop and praise God for our favorite part of this new home. Upstairs there is a unique room/large closet, that when we first walked the home, we had no idea what we would use it for. There is an incredible amount of closet space already. Then as we neared our closing date, it became obvious: this room is going to be our Prayer Room. And it is our favorite room in this home, which leads me to the powerful ballad below.
I pray endless blessings for every one of you that reads these words. I pray that God blesses you beyond anything you could ever ask or imagine. I pray that God inspires you to follow His teachings and His direction to live like Jesus and spread the Gospel.