Who's got your back?

As I have gotten older I have grown to truly appreciate history. Not that I didn't enjoy history when I was in school, it's just that it didn't click with me as much as it does now. Of particular interest to me is the World War 2 era, probably because my grandfather served on a bomber in the Pacific theater. While he was alive I never heard him speak about  his experiences from the war, and what little I have learned has been from combing through old scrap books that my grandmother made and a small box of memorabilia that I discovered years after his death.

Books about the men and women who served during World War 2 absolutely fascinate me. How did we defeat Japan and Germany with little more than nineteen and twenty year old kids serving so selflessly to defend our freedom? Time and again I read of their sacrifice and work ethic and I think, "What in the world is wrong with me?" Harrowing stories of young marines storming the beaches of remote islands in the Pacific in order to root out the Japanese make for good drama, but beyond that is this sense of brotherhood that boggles the mind. Men running through withering machine gun fire to retrieve a wounded buddy because no man is to be left behind. Soldiers who, just months prior were complete strangers, now step in the line of fire to protect the lives of the guys next to them. A mantra of "we're all in this together" that superseded any rank or hierarchy in the midst of battle. These and countless other accounts amaze and inspire me every time I read them. Someone always seemed to have your back. 

This morning as I was having some time in the Bible and in reflection, I began to think about the many men and women in my life who have had my back over the years. As names came to mind, I wrote them down and my eyes began to sweat just a little as my list got longer and longer. Older couples who mentored me and my wife when we were newly weds and still trying to figure out how to figure out both marriage and parenthood. Childhood friends who stuck with me in my darkest days and are still there today when I need them. Mentors in the ministry who helped to keep me grounded and worked to gradually sand off the rough edges of my pride and arrogance. These men and women had and still continue to have my back!

I honestly do not believe that I would be where I am today if it were not for the many people that pulled alongside of me along life's journey and made critical and timely investments. Their impact in my life reminds me of how much the apostle Paul meant to a young man named Timothy who was charged with overseeing a fledgling church early in the expansion of the gospel into Asia. Timothy was young, but Paul reminded him that young people can still do great things for God (1 Timothy 4:12). Timothy was impressionable, so Paul spent much time giving wise counsel so that he would know how to discern truth from the lies and to understand the dangers of loving things more than God (1 Timothy 6:1-12).  Ultimately, Paul served as a mentor to young Timothy, loving him enough to give him gentle but firm guidance so that he could flourish in his life for Jesus:
But as for you, continue in what you have learned and firmly believed, knowing those from whom you learned. (2 Timothy 3:14)
I am thankful to say that I have had several serve as Paul's in my life. And I certainly want to do the same for others, serving as a voice of reason and wise mentor-ship as they grow in their faith and careers. So, who has your back? Are you allowing others to speak wisdom and truth into your life even if it's painful, or are you convinced that you've got it all figured out and can do it on your own? And who is looking to you for guidance and mentoring - are you taking advantage of this awesome responsibility? 

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