Thou Teacheth My Hands to War… (Psalm 18)

The Lord God instructed the children of Israel to require all the able-bodied men over the age of twenty to go to war. In the first chapter of the book of Numbers, the phrase “all that are able to go forth to war” is repeated fourteen times. The only exceptions to this instruction were the Levites, who were established as priests for temple service. We see that the modern-day nation of Israel continues to observe this commandment by requiring not only all young men but also women to serve two years in the military. During the reign of King David, God gave the tiny nation unprecedented military victories and even expanded their borders. During that time, the nation of Israel experienced tremendous spiritual momentum as well. The years that followed in King Solomon’s reign were marked as a period of peace and prosperity. That peace was achieved through the military strength of his father.

We home schoolers tend to be very patriotic. We are very knowledgeable of American history and become indignant when we hear of the many people who engage in America bashing. Our family is no exception to the rule in this regard. My husband and I have tried hard to raise our two sons and our daughter to appreciate and value the freedom we have in this country and never to take it for granted. We have also been vigilant to walk the tightrope of patriotism—knowing that this country is a gift from God and that it is not to be worshiped or idolized. God gave us this land, and we understand that He can take it away at His pleasure. We have also aspired to be diligent in our intake of Bible doctrine—knowing that the formula for a peaceful and prosperous nation is not only strong national leadership and military might but also spiritual momentum of the believers who live there. It is because of this diligent study of the Word that I am in my present predicament.

My son, Brock, was destined for military life. From the time he was very young, this fact was obvious to all who knew him. While other kids wanted GameBoys and other gadgets, Brock was happy with a 98-cent bag of little green army men with which he and his brother would play for hours. My husband would often join in, and I even had my own army. (Mine was Desert-Storm beige.)

While convalescing after a C-section when having my daughter, I emerged from the bedroom one rainy afternoon to see the living room furniture all moved out of the room and an entire battlefield set up; I reminded my husband that he had said he would take over the schooling during my recovery, to which my son replied, “Mom, this is school! We are studying the Revolutionary War. Look!” Upon closer examination, I could see that these were not our everyday soldiers but were in fact little plastic redcoats and minutemen.

So you can see why it was not a surprise to me when my son informed me at the age of thirteen that he planned to apply to West Point. We have tailored his education to that goal. My world was, however, turned upside down this summer when, as a junior, my son informed me that he wanted to enlist in the Texas National Guard using their split option program. This option allows juniors in high school to go to boot camp the summer before their senior year. They then train with their unit one weekend a month during their senior year and attend their job training the following summer before college. If accepted to West Point, he would then go to West Point; if not, he would attend college, which would be paid for by the Guard, and he would continue to train one weekend a month with his unit. He could then join ROTC and get a commission as an officer. However, there is a catch—if he does not go to West Point, is in his first two years of college, and his unit is deployed, he will go to war.

“This nation is at war,” I remember hearing myself say.

“I know that, Mom; I also know that freedom has a high price. We have the freedom to homeschool—a precious gift that many Christians around the world do not have.”

“But you could die,” I argued.

“We all die, Mom; I want to really live.”

I looked into the eyes of my beloved son, my firstborn, who is six feet tall and has a goatee, and I saw the little boy who played with green army men. “Where has the time gone?” I thought to myself until I realized he was staring at me expectantly.

“No, you are too young to go off to war,” I said.

“The recruiter told me you cannot be deployed while in high school,” he answered.

Looking at my husband for some kind of support I heard those fateful words, “You know it is his destiny. You knew this day would come.”

I thought I had more time.

And then it happened—the crushing blow, the argument-ending, mom-silencing, last word on the subject, “Mom, we have been studying the sovereignty of God all of my life. Either we believe it, or we don’t. I believe with all my heart that God is leading me to do this. If He is, then I will be safe in His plan. I will not die one day before my appointed time. Whether I am walking across the street or across the battlefield, I am in the palm of the Lord’s hand.”

There it was—the challenge to my faith that I never thought would come from my own flesh and blood. I had studied the Word and read everything there was on child training and home schooling. I was preparing my son to live for Christ. What I now had to accept was that I had been preparing him to die for Christ as well. Could I make that choice? Could I say yes and face the fact that he might go to war and die? Or was I to say no and deny God’s plan for his life? I have seen many parents agonize over children raised in godly homes who grow up to walk away from all they are taught and from the Lord Himself. Would it be better to follow the Lord even unto death? I wondered where Sarah was when Abraham was taking Isaac up the mountain.

We got a letter from Brock the other day. He seems to be thriving at boot camp. It was the kind of letter that makes a mother’s heart swell with pride and can bring a tear to the eye of even the most stoic father. “Thank you, Dad, for all the years of training. Thank you, Mom, for the hard work of homeschooling me. I am standing apart. I am accomplishing my goals!”

We need godly young men in the military. Is this your son’s bent? Is he called according to God’s purpose? Do you enjoy your freedom? Anyone feeling led to pursue this option with the Texas National Guard can contact the local Guard office.

Christine Manuwai is the wife of Scott, an engineering manager, and is the mother of three children. Her son, Brock, seventeen at the time of this writing, was in the National Guard. Mrs. Manuwai served on the board of the Plano Educational Association of Christian Homeschoolers (PEACH).