For eight and a half years, I was a chaplain in the Oklahoma Army National Guard. We were a part-time reserve force of the US Army, and served as the state’s organized militia when not in federal service. It was a time of full ministry for me with my soldiers. It was a time to “switch gears” from my civilian pastorate to being a chaplain. My drill weekends and two-weeks’ annual training were mostly spent with a support battalion in an infantry brigade and later, with an artillery battalion. I often reflect on some happening in the field with my soldiers. I miss the comradery, the sense of duty and mission. It was in the years between Desert Storm and 9/11. Things were fairly quiet; we weren’t getting shot at during those years.
One thing I don’t miss about those days is my Kevlar helmet.
The American army’s helmet at the time provided better-protection than the old steel WWII / Korea / Vietnam-era helmets with a fibreglass liner. The Kevlar helmet was heavier than the steel pot. I remember the neck aches I had in getting adjusted to it. The old steel pot worked great to shave with or to rinse out socks, or for cooking. The Kevlar helmet didn’t have any such use. It was for protection. Period. Since many us had not worn them in battle, we had no idea if they worked.
At annual training one year a Guardsman was knocked down by a Humvee which was backing up. The ground was somewhat soft and the back wheel of the vehicle ran over the full length of the soldier’s body. He got some bruises and a couple of broken ribs out of it. But the most amazing part was that the wheel caught the rim of his helmet and didn’t leave a scratch on the Guardsman’s head. It saved his life. It did leave a crack in the helmet, which rendered it useless, but word spread amongst those of our brigade of that incident, and a new-found respect for our Kevlar helmets. No complaints about them, then. And I, as acting brigade chaplain that summer camp, instead of making a death notification, got to make a hospital visit.
In Ephesians 6, the helmet of salvation refers to the believer’s assurance of salvation, without which there no confidence in our Christian living. Do you have such confidence in the saving work of Christ? Do you have that hope of salvation that is spoken of in 1 Thess. 5.8? This hope rests on the assured conviction based on God’s Word that by believing on Christ Jesus as He is offered in the Gospel that one is not destined for the wrath of God against sinners on the day of judgment, but that one will receive salvation. Not by the works of righteousness which we may have done, but by the mercies of God alone (Titus 3.5). Because of Christ’s death for us, we will share his life. This helmet, as it were, of salvation, provides us assurance and hope.
Got your helmet on?