I have always had a special soft spot for members of our military forces. Both my Dad and my father-in-law served in WWII and one of my grandfathers was a WWI veteran. Well, this afternoon, as I was getting ready to board a flight from Dallas back home to Indianapolis, it was announced that our flight was completely full. As I neared the gate, I noticed more military personnel getting ready to board our flight than I have ever seen before – there must have been at least thirty men and women from the Army patiently waiting in line.
But what struck me today was that I was transported to another time and place when I saw all those uniforms. Suddenly, I was eighteen again, right after my birthday – in other words, exactly forty years ago this week. Back then, the Vietnam War was raging, and there were protests, and young men and women were dying in a war halfway around the world. And it was the law that all eighteen year old boys, or should I say young men, had to sign up for the draft within thirty days of their eighteenth birthday. It was a scary time.
I even remember the address of the place I had to go to register – 1819 W. Pershing Road in Chicago. Suddenly, the thrill of being eighteen was overshadowed by the reality that I could be called to go to war. For those of you who are too young to remember that time, the government then held a lottery each year and assigned draft numbers based on when your birth date was called.
I vividly remember the day of the lottery. The numbers were called in sets of twenty five, and I remember sitting in the car, waiting to go into lunch, when the first numbers were called. I survived the first batch of 25 dates, and after a break, the announcer came back on the air to call lottery numbers 26-50. I was nervous……45…..46…..47…..48…..49….. my hand was on the key getting ready to turn off the engine, and then it happened – #50, February 19th.
My heart sank. Of 365 possible dates, I was number 50. Not a good place to be. I hardly remember lunch, or anything else the rest of the day. That evening, my friend Neal announced that he was #13 – he went and enlisted in the National Guard. Another friend of mine, Craig, was somewhere in the mid-300’s, so he was safe, and celebrating. I had a decision to make – enlist in the Guard with Neal, or wait and see what happened.
I decided to wait it out. I don’t know why I made that choice, but I did – and when all the dust settled, the government stopped the draft after calling #48 up to active service. I never went to Vietnam, or even into the military at all. Today I recalled that entire episode in my life. And I was reminded that God knew all along what was going to happen. It was not a mystery to Him. For we are told in Psalm 139:16, “your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”
In other words, God has a plan for each of us. He created each one of us for a specific purpose, and no two of us are created exactly the same way. So you have been created to do something better, at this time and place, than anyone in all eternity – past or future. And the beauty of the journey is to get from where you are to where God wants you to be. Since God does not waste anything, all of the previous experiences of your life have happened in preparation for your next assignment from God. So my motivation today is to celebrate your training from God. Reflect on your life and thank Him for the things he has prepared you to do. After all, you are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14) by the Creator Himself. And God does not make mistakes. So what is your next assignment? I am living out mine right now by writing this to you. Have a great day in the Lord!