From the Front Lines (Devotional)

Phyllis Nissila

When my friend was in the Vietnam War he attended several United Service Organizationpublic domain photo 1967 Bob Hope Christmas Show Vietnam (USO) shows. While all the performances were entertaining and uplifting, those most memorable to him were the shows held as close to the front lines as allowed. Well-known and not so well-known entertainers came to the “boonies” of the South East Asian conflict at personal risk, dodging occasional in-coming themselves to render respite, albeit brief, to the most war-weary G.I.s. Comedian Bob Hope, famous for his USO service during several U.S. wars and conflicts, was one such entertainer…

Some years ago I had a music ministry. In prayer over the nature of it once, I saw this scene in my mind’s eye. Like the USO entertainers referenced above, I found myself, guitar in hand, looking out over battle-fatigued veterans of another kind, “spiritual soldiers,” if you will, wearied from another kind of conflict by an “enemy” of another sort (Ephesians 6:12) whose weapons were not M16s or B52s but the forces of evil aiming for as much destruction as opponents in any earthly war.

Some in the “audience” of my imagination leaned on crutches while others maneuvered bandaged limbs on makeshift benches. Still other soldiers, fresh from the smoke of a not-too-distant conflagration, minds and hearts still reeling from sights and sounds of a hurting humanity no one should be privy to, looked up with weary yet expectant eyes.

Then I looked down at my own attire. To my surprise but not to my surprise I was wearing a uniform, too, torn here, frayed, there, smudged with the residue of my own run-ins with the enemy. Here I realized my musical mission: in the midst of the wreckage of evil on the battlefronts of heart and hearth, I could offer, albeit brief, encouragement, hope, and comfort even as I had received same (2 Corinthians 1:4).

Fragments of the lyrics from then resonate now.

You belong to Me, now,

So don’t you let the world

Get you down.

For if they only knew

The real Me and you

You know they’d come around

To the land of milk and honey

Where the grass is always green,

For those who love Me

Greater is yours

Than you’ve ever seen

Because I’m with you, now.

No one can take you away


And from another song:

Beside restful waters

My Lord, He leads me.

And he says He will never,

Never forsake or leave me.

And when the storms come

And I think I’m alone,

He reminds me He’s always been there

To direct me home

Because He loves me,

He loves me…

And another:

“Why are you afraid?

I have come to still the wind.

Why are you afraid?

I have come to calm the sea.”

And He said, “My peace

I give to you.

Not a feeling that the world

Can offer, too.

So take it, it’s yours.

Why do you hesitate?

My peace can surround you,

There’s no need to wait,

No need to wait…”

The songs bring me back to that era and they minister to me now. I hope they offer some comfort to you, too, “out there” in the midst of your own struggles, by encouraging you to look to Christ for respite, for, as He said, “In the world you shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). And His “rest” is for eternity.


Photo from the public domain: Bob Hope 1967 Christmas show

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2 Responses to From the Front Lines (Devotional)

  1. Carl Gordon says:

    The timing and content of this piece couldn’t be better! Many thanks! Shalom lecha b’shem Yeshua haMessiach! (Peace to you in the name of Yeshua (Jesus) the Messiah!)


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