Religion

As you leave military life, seek God’s guidance

Recently, I got out of the military (after two tours of duty overseas), and to be honest, I’m kind of at loose ends and not sure what to do next. How can I get my life back together? – H.H.

Monday is Memorial Day, when our nation pauses to give thanks for those countless men and women who sacrificed their lives so we might live in freedom. The Bible says, “Give everyone what you owe him . . . if honor, then honor” (Romans 13:7). If ever we owed honor to anyone, it is to those men and women.

But we also honor today all those who are serving or have served in our nation’s military — including you. Over the years, I visited our military men and women in many parts of the world, and I know the difficulties and challenges they face, particularly in times of war. May we not only honor them on this day, but thank God for them and pray for their protection.

God was with you during your tours of duty (whether you were aware of it or not) — and I want to assure you that He is still with you. He knows the problems you face, and He wants to help you during this time of transition. And the most important step you can take is to commit your life to Christ, and put your life and your future into His hands.

Then ask God to guide you as you make decisions about your future. Perhaps He wants you to get more education, or has a new job for you, or has some other opportunity for you if you are open to it. God’s promise is for you: “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you” (Psalm 32:8).

My cousin believes that he can harness some of the universe’s spiritual power by carrying a crystal around with him, and he has some other ideas I wonder about, like reincarnation. He says he isn’t interested in traditional religion, so how can I talk with him about Jesus? Arguing with him doesn’t seem to get anywhere. — K.D.

My wife used to say that more bees are caught with honey than with vinegar — and it’s true; arguing and confrontation alone seldom attract anyone to Christ. The Bible says, “An offended brother is more unyielding than a fortified city” (Proverbs 18:19).

Instead of arguing with your cousin, therefore, tell him that you’ve been intrigued by his interest in spiritual things, and you would like to have him tell you about his spiritual journey. Be a good listener, and ask God to help you understand why he has taken this path. The Bible tells us to “pay attention and gain understanding” (Proverbs 4:1).

No, you won’t agree with everything he says; in fact, you may disagree with most of it. But try to get beneath the details of what your cousin believes, and discover why he has accepted it. It may be because of the influence of friends; it may be from youthful rebellion; it may be because of a deep spiritual hunger.

Then ask him for permission to tell your own story — your personal testimony of what Jesus Christ means to you, and how He has changed your life. Point out that Christ came to erase the barrier between us and God - a barrier caused by sin. Most of all, pray for him, that he will realize his need of Christ’s forgiveness and new life, and turn to Him in repentance and faith.

The Rev. Billy Graham, whose column appears every Saturday, can be contacted at “My Answer,” 1 Billy Graham Parkway, Charlotte, N.C., 28201.

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