I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust. Psalm 91:2 (KJV)
After much cajoling, my brother Jack reluctantly allowed me to polish his boots. His ROTC unit was having a major inspection the next day, and he wanted to look his best. I was confident a girl could make his shoes shine as much as any guy, so I spent the evening brushing and rubbing and buffing until the boots looked almost new. And it worked. I was commended for my efforts.
Not long after that, America became engaged in a brutal war in Viet Nam, and the draft was re-instituted. Jack joined early on, following the tradition of his uncles on both sides of the family during World War II. As he tends to do with all his undertakings, Jack focused on being prepared for battle in a place that had only recently become part of our daily news. He graduated from basic training with top honors, and when he finished OCS as the top graduate, my father took his first airplane ride to see his son receive the commanding general’s award.
Deployment soon followed. Jack had trained to be a Special Forces soldier, so we knew he’d be living in harm’s way throughout his assignment. That’s when our mother, Momo, told us about the soldiers from her church. With the bombing of Pearl Harbor, men all over the country (and from her small community church) formed lines to join the military. (Those were the days of high patriotism: nations were allied to preserve freedom; women went to work to fill the vacuum here in industry; rationing was instituted; and people prayed.) Just before the young men deployed, their pastor called them all forward. The congregation gathered ‘round, and they all prayed the 91st Psalm, the Soldier’s Psalm. Every day during their absence in far-flung places around the world, the congregation prayed. And every one of those boys returned.
The Sunday before Jack was to leave, our pastor called him forward, and the congregation prayed over him. And our family prayed Psalm 91 for him every day:
He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High
shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.
Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler,
and from the noisome pestilence.
He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust:
his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.
Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day;
Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness;
nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday.
A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand;
but it shall not come nigh thee.
Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked.
Because thou hast made the Lord, which is my refuge,
even the most High, thy habitation;
There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.
For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.
They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.
Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder:
the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet.
Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him:
I will set him on high, because he hath known my name.
He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble;
I will deliver him, and honour him.
With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him my salvation.
This weekend I sent a long email to Jack that he shared with his buddies from Viet Nam days to thank him and them for their selfless service to our beloved country and to thank God for protecting and keeping them safe. Jack continues to pray the 91st Psalm for himself and his two boys who are now deployed. God has blessed us with his mercy.
Father, your loving care is overwhelming. We’ve all been through danger and difficulties but none like our military men and women. Thank you for people who are willing to make the utmost sacrifice to keep us free, and keep them in your love . God bless America. In Jesus’ name. AMEN.