“Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” (Luke chapter 9 verse 62)
The story is told of a young woman who, called to go to the Middle East as a missionary during a period of war, consulted her mentor regarding the seemingly crazy idea (hoping they’d talk her out of it). Her mentor responded to her concerns by questioning, “What does it matter, if you’re already dead?” The mentor reasoned that she could not so much as go to her neighbour’s house if she had not first died to herself.
During World War II, the Paratroopers of Easy Company, 506th Infantry Regiment of the US Army, distinguished themselves as men of great courage, excellence, and effectiveness. This band of heroes were fine soldiers, renowned for their ability to triumph in the face of great challenge or seeming impossibility. They were sent to the hardest places - where the battle was thickest (to clear the way for the Allied Forces), and were always surrounded by the enemy.
Easy Company was formed at Camp Toccoa at Currahee, Georgia, USA, where they endured gruelling training totally unlike what their fellow soldiers experienced. These men, when asked their reasons for choosing to join the paratroopers, would respond that if they had to go to war, they wanted to be certain that the men in the trenches beside them could be relied upon - the paratroopers were the best.
The motto of the Company was “Currahee”, a Cherokee word meaning “We stand alone”. This word was adapted by the Company to mean “We stand alone, together”. These men were led into battle by a superb leader - Major Richard “Dick” Winters, whom Easy Company trusted unquestioningly.
Winters was a master strategist, full of integrity, fearless, compassionate and intuitive who expected the absolute best from his men - pushed them to that end. Wherever he went, they went. Winters knew his men, and they loved, respected, obeyed and admired him. The veterans of Easy Company all agreed long after the war had ended, that they would go to war again without hesitation - if they were being led by Winters.
More than half of Easy Company died in battle. However, the entire Company, having already reckoned themselves dead prior to engaging with the enemy, continued with remarkable effectiveness and valour for the duration of the war. “Curahee!” became the call to victory, and finishing well.
Do hard things
How then shall we live as believers?
The story of Easy Company and the testimony of the young missionary inspires and challenges. Inspires and challenges to do what? Both stories challenge us to do hard things.
In the words of Stephanie Quick,
“We know our days are numbered, and we have family graves to visit if ever we begin to forget. Even for those who have some kind of coasting childhood, adulthood will abruptly teach everyone how quickly and harshly seasons can change and life and lives can end…So we must live in light of eternity, and ask ourselves what testimony we want to offer Jesus when He arrives; what banner we’ll want to carry into eternity."[i]
The calling of the Christian, much like the calling of the Easy Company regiment, is anything but easy. We, too, are commissioned by our Saviour to go into the thick of the battle, and prepare the way for the Lord, holding fast till He returns.
We are called to do the work, remain faithful and endure to the end. We are not of those who draw back in the face of difficulty and hardship. No! We run towards the fight, towards the sound of the clashing of swords and booming artillery; having counted ourselves as dead, and the lives we live, not our own. We have counted the cost, and are committed to following the man, Christ Jesus, Commander of the Army of the Lord.
Eternity is written on our hearts. Citizens of another Kingdom, we long for its coming and the close of this present evil age. It is to that end that we labour, endure, suffer, and persevere - for the glory of the name of the Lord, and the manifestation of that glory to all men! We are those whose voices cry in the wilderness, “Prepare the way for the Lord! Make straight the highways!” (John chapter 1, verse 23) .
We plead with men, compelled by the love of God which burns in our bosoms, “Be reconciled to God! Receive His mercy!” Come and buy gold, you who have no money, come and drink you who thirst, come and find rest you who are weary and heavy laden (Isaiah chapter 55, verse 1; Matthew chapter 1, verse 28).“Come and meet our Lord who is gentle and lowly of spirit, who offers life to all who would receive it, yet does not leave the guilty unpunished.”
“Look!” we cry, “He is coming with the clouds! And every eye will see Him, and every knee will bow” (Revelation chapter 1, verse 7).
The Christian’s “Curahee”, is “Maranatha”. Our reason, should anyone ever ask of us, for choosing this life of difficulty is, Jesus. In the light of His face, we see the answer to a million questions, and the solution to all problems. He is our Blessed Hope, the perfect leader, whom we love and trust completely. He doesn’t lead us where He has not already gone, and will not, also, go with us. He knows us, loves us, has commissioned us for this present task and has given us the grace to do it.
Together we can shout, Curahee! Maranatha! For the Glory of His Name!
Francesca Tavares (West Indies) is a daughter, sister, friend, avid reader, attorney-at-law, and porridge connoisseur. She enjoys Jesus and fulfilling His purposes for her life on Earth.