Letting go of self to serve

Posted on Posted in Mixed Nuts

During June we’re focusing on responding to God’s call. Please see the Prayer page to read our strategic prayer request for this month.

By Jim Bliffen

As I was thinking about the focus for the month with the strategic prayer request for revival in the Lower Ramu region, I am reminded of the call of Isaiah found in the 6th chapter of his book. Isaiah saw God in His temple sitting on a throne lifted to lofty heights and exalted. Isaiah cried out in fear for he knew he was unworthy to be in God’s presence. I believe that Isaiah’s response for God’s call could have been identical to his initial response of seeing God because he felt unworthy and so unable to do the work God called him to do. But God assured Isaiah that He would qualify him with the cleansing of his lips and life. Many great men of God had the same response to God’s call. Men such as Moses who asked God to send someone else, or Paul who cried out, “Who is adequate for these things?” felt unworthy and overwhelmed by the awesome tasks that God called them to perform. But God cleansed Isaiah’s lips thus signifying that Isaiah was the man to speak for Him and that He would enable Isaiah to go for Him. Therefore, when God calls out, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Isaiah answers, “Here am I. Send me!” Isaiah was saying, “I am available and willing, even though I am unqualified.” I heard a preacher once say, “God calls us to be available, not able.” If we make ourselves available to answer His call He will enable us and gift us to do His work. His strength will be perfected in our weakness. If we are to see revival in the Lower Ramu we must make ourselves available to answer His call with all our hearts and our very lives. He can do the impossible with unqualified, unable, weak, small groups like us who are willing to give our lives to answer the call no matter the cost.

Civil WarIn the middle of the American Civil War on July 2, 1863 in a small southern Pennsylvania town called Gettysburg at 4:00 in the afternoon, General Lee’s Confederate troops unleashed a ferocious assault on General Mead’s Union Army’s right flank to the south of town. As the assault gathered steam, more and more Union troops were moved from the center of their lines to reinforce the defeated Union 3rd Corps that was defending the position. By 6:00 enough troops had been moved from the center that a half mile gap had been created in the Union lines. Headed straight for that gap was an Alabama brigade under the leadership of General Wilcox. They were driving in front of them the remainder of the shattered 3rd Corps who were running in a chaotic retreat.

Union General Winfield Hancock was surveying the disintegrating Union line from horseback. He later wrote, “Reinforcements were coming on the run, but I knew that before they could reach the threatened point the Confederates, unless checked, would seize the position.” He knew he somehow needed to gain five minutes. He looked around desperately to find organized men to counter the assault of the Alabamians, but the only unit he could find available to him was an undersized regiment of Minnesota men.

The Minnesotans stood on top of a low ridge called Cemetery Hill. As panicked Union soldiers ran back toward them and through their ranks the Minnesotans saw a hazy line of grey Confederate troops coming down the opposite low ridge into the rocky creek bed right below their position. Hancock rode up to the well-ordered Minnesotans and asked their colonel, Col. Colvill, “What regiment is this?” “The First Minnesota,” answered Covell. Hancock ordered the Minnesotans to charge down the slope and take the Confederate’s colors. Lt. William Lochran later wrote, “Every man realized in an instant what that order meant – death or wounds to us all; the sacrifice of the regiment to gain a few minutes’ time and save the position, and probably the battlefield.”

They all knew what was going to happen to them, and yet every man in the regiment made the charge. The men ran in formation down the slope through a wheat field to the dry creek known as Plum Run, where they faced 1,500 Alabamans that outnumbered them six to one. “Bullets whistled past us, shells screeched over us; canister and grape fell about us,” wrote Sgt. Alfred Carpenter. “Oh, how our men fell! Comrade after comrade dropped from the ranks; but on the line went. No one took a second look at his fallen companion. We had no time to weep.”

The charge stunned the Alabamans. Thinking they were being attacked by far greater numbers, Wilcox halted his assault until the situation could be assessed. The remaining men of the First Minnesota took cover behind the thicket along Plum Run and continued to fire until they saw Union troops filling the hill behind them. They refused to leave until the position was secured. By the time he got his Alabamans moving again Wilcox saw the same thing and he was forced to retreat. Hancock sought to buy five minutes at the sacrifice of a regiment, but the First Minnesota had bought him 10 minutes at a high cost. 262 men made the charge and only 47 were left uninjured. They suffered 82 percent casualties, the greatest loss of any unit at Gettysburg in a single day, or in modern warfare, for that matter. They did what couldn’t be done because they were available, they heard the call, and answered with their lives. They played a decisive role in the battle and in fact saved the position and probably the war for the Union Army.

God has been calling the church to make this same sacrifice for 2,000 years, charge the enemy despite the odds and no matter what it cost. It’s nothing new, it’s just our turn to step up and answer the call with our lives. Are you ready to make the charge?

Some information taken from “Minnesota Civil War Regiment Charged into History at Gettysburg” by Maja Beckstrom; Twin Cities.com Pioneer Press

Jim serves in the area of Scripture Use.

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