“The law of the LORD is perfect,refreshing the soul. The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes. The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever. The decrees of the LORD are firm, and all of them are righteous. They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the honeycomb. By them your servant is warned; in keeping them there is great reward (Psalm 19:7-11).”
If you were an American replacement soldier in World War II during the Battle of France, the odds were against you. Historian Anthony Beevor explains some reasons for this in his work on the D-Day invasion of June 6, 1944.
One reason was inherent in their moniker “replacement”. These soldiers were taking the place of others killed in battle.
This didn’t make them particularly popular with the more veteran soldiers in their new units. They were shunned by these men, who were dealing with the loss of their buddies.
Eventually, the leadership who had given them the name “replacement” realized there mistake. They changed the name of these kinds of soldiers to “reinforcement” troops
The life expectancy of these new soldiers was rather low. This was because according to Beevor their platoon leaders gave them the most dangerous jobs. They didn’t want to risk their more veteran troops.
The main issue for these green troops was their lack of training. Unlike the men who landed on the Normandy beaches, these soldiers had never been exposed to artillery fire during training. Most of them were trained as cooks, drivers and officers’ orderlies and then thrown into combat.
As a result, these men suffered a high rate of battle shock. They were not prepared for the stress of combat and ended up physically and emotionally exhausted.
The poor training had one other effect. Replacement troops had the highest rate of suicide among servicemen. This fact made those sending them off to France from England remove their ties and belts before they embarked.
It wasn’t until the officer in charge of the rest areas for the men who had had nervous breakdowns implored his superiors to change their methods that the situation for replacement troops improved. The men were not sent to new units until they had received proper combat training behind the lines.
As a father, I know how important it is for mychildren to receive good training from me. Part of my job is to prepare them for the rigors of life.
Georgve Muller is known among Christians as one of the godliest believers of the 19th century. His effective prayer life is legendary. Yet, his father aided and abetted a wicked youthful lifestyle by his lack of training.
Muller’s main biographer, A.T. Pierson, writes that he was indeed a wicked youth. He places the blame for this partly at the failure of his father to direct the growth of the young George.
Pierson says in his book “Geore Muller: All tings are possible”:
“George Muller had no proper parental training. His father’s favoritism toward him was harmful both to himself and to his brother, as in the family of Jacob, tending to jealousy and estrangement. Money was put too freely into the hands of these boys, hoping that they might learn how to use it and to save it; but the result was, rather, careless and viscious waste, for it became the source of many childish sins of indulgence. Worse still, when called upon to render any account of their stewardship, sins of lying and deception were used to cloak wasteful spending.”
Pierson notes many mistakes of Muller’s father. Incredibly, he sought to have his son trained as a clergyman, even knowing of his son’s faults. He also entrusted him with money belonging to others, which the young man ultimately absconded with.
By the age of 15, Pierson notes, Muller had become a communicant in the church. He even made shallow attempts at reform. Yet they were in vain according to his biographer:
“…there was no real sense of sin or of repentance toward God, nor was there any dependence on a higher strength: and, without these, efforts at self amendment never prove of value or work lasting results.”
His father even once bailed him out of jail and paid his debts. Only his outrage prompted a change in Muller, but it was not from the heart and he continued as he entered early adulthood in his wicked ways.
It is true that we all have our own will. One wonders, though, had Muller’s father not been so indulgent and had instead instructed and disciplined the young man if much of the immoral behavior could have been avoided.
The good news for us as believers is that we have a Father who does provide proper training. He has given us a rulebook –the Bible. It is inspired by Him and profitable for teaching us how to live (II Timothy 3:16,17).
Unlike some of the military commanders of World War II and George Muller’s father, these words of God train us and lead to life. The training replacement soldiers and the young George Muller received led to death.
The godly father will heed the wise man of Proverbs, who writes:” Discipline your children, for in that there is hope; do not be a willing party to their death (Proverbs 19:18).”
Yet, the words must fall upon receptive ears. The godly young man or woman will receive godly instruction. The same wise man writes:
” Whoever keeps commandments keeps their life,
but whoever shows contempt for their ways will die.
Listen to advice and accept discipline,
and at the end you will be counted among the wise (Proverbs 19:16,20).”
Thankfully, for his own generation and that of subsequent believers in Jesus Christ, George Muller saw the benefits of God’s Word over and above his wickedness. He led others to believe the Scriptures and their Author as well.
As a 21st century believer, it would behoove me to turn to the Scriptures for my own benefit, and teach them to my family as well. My family and I will gain life, and subsequent generations will, too