Sgt. Philip Gosselin was due to get out of the Marine Corp in May, and was planning on joining the Strike Force staff at Camp Lejeune. To finalize his decisions, he spent three days alone with God seeking His direction and guidance in the mountains near where we take Marines rock climbing.
Monday morning his CO (commanding officer) spoke to him about his decision to separate from the Corps. “Sergeant Gosselin, I know you have communicated your intentions to leave the Corps and I do not desire to influence your decision to change, but I will say that I do wish I had a sergeant like you going with me to Iraq.”
That evening Philip came by to chat. “Mike, God has flipped my world upside down today.” He related the story of talking with his CO and told me that he had talked with his father and mother already about possibly extending to go to the war in Iraq with his men.
“Mike, I know last night I told you I had decided to join Strike Force,” he said, “but deep in my heart I think God is leading me to extend and go to Iraq.”
While this sounded a little crazy, I sensed too that God was in this decision. Sensing that God was at work in Philip’s heart we prayed, seeking the Holy Spirit’s guidance. God guided clearly.
Men like Philip are designed by God as warriors at heart. I related this to Philip affirming his design and told him that he did not want to be sitting on my couch 30 years from now with regrets that he did not go to war with his men. A huge smile covered Philip’s face! I knew that God had guided us both directing his decision.
I told Philip what the Holy Spirit gave me concerning his being an insider, “Just think what will your fellow Marines will think? Next year when you return from the Iraq war, those men will always remember that Sergeant Gosselin extended to go to war with us.”
Whether Philip decides to join our Strike Force staff or not, those Marines he leads and fights with will experience the love of Jesus Christ; the good news of God’s Kingdom will advance in their hearts.
Pam and I hugged Philip goodbye as he loaded the bus along with his fellow Marines from 2/10 Echo Battery. It was Pam’s first time seeing girl friends, wives, and children saying goodbye as their men headed to war. Tears flowed as husbands, fiancé’s, moms and dads, and friends tore away from one another.
I looked Philip deep in the eye, “I love you Philip and I’m very proud of you.” I exhorted him to remember his identity, “Philip, you are a precious son of the living God in whom He is well pleased, now fight like a man.”
Michael Hitefield is another story like Sgt. Gosselin. Michael is a Navy Corpsman serving as a doctor with the Marines. Prior to his leaving for Iraq, I asked him if he knew who he was — God’s son in whom He is well pleased!
“I know who I am, I’m Michael Hitefield,” he replied.
“No, Michael, that is not who you are. You are a precious son of the living God in whom He is well pleased. Now go, fight, serve, and rejoice in who God has made you to be.”
Michael has since returned from the war, a changed man.
Preparing men like Philip and Michael, I focus on establishing their core beliefs, core values and core life decisions based upon who God is and what God communicates in scriptures. I call it their BVDs, which catches their attention.
BVDs serve to establish Kingdom Values when based upon God’s Word equipping men and women with understanding and knowledge of their Identity, Purpose, and Meaning in life.
Over the past several years I continue to discover the value of “spiritual parenting.” I believe every person walking the planet has the cry of Esau in the depths of their soul…”Bless me, even me also, O my father.” Gen. 27:34 What a privilege to “bless” those God entrusts to our care guiding them in spiritual disciplines to reproduce themselves spiritually in future generations.