Prayer, the fairly abstract concept that sometimes seems little more than wishful thinking, has been making headlines of late. Over the last year, I have surely had a robust internal prayer life, if I use a more liberal definition of the word. But I haven’t prayed a prayer out loud in some time. I remember I prayed out loud a couple years ago, but I’m ashamed to admit the circumstances, so I will not. But before that prayer, it was a good decade of not praying out loud; a good decade had passed of not putting my voice to the task of addressing Almighty God.
As one can imagine, I have come to the conclusion that this pattern needs to change and that I want it to change. So last night, I set out for myself the goal of praying out loud.
Before we get to the result, I have something to ask of you. I want to know something from you. I know, I know. I ask a lot of you. Many of you have shared that you don’t read any of my Christian posts, I am certain I have lost many of you in my posts of wanton rage–what is commonly referred to as venting–and I know I lost your confidence in my posts which revealed that I have misrepresented myself in the blogosphere in order to gain customers (a failed endeavor, btw). But I still have a question:
Why did you pay me when I was in the Air Force?
Obviously, you don’t need to include in your response the pertinent fact that you were required to by law, that you didn’t exactly have a choice. In answering, let me remind you that I was an officer and pilot, special operations at that. In other words, by all accounts, you loved me while I was serving. I’m not asking for evidence of this love or flattery (though human nature will not allow me to parry any attacks), what I want is to know why you paid me?
Was it because you wanted some humans to die and some property to be destroyed and yet you didn’t want to do it yourself? Was it because someone (your parents or grandparents or friends) recommended me? Even now, when I no longer serve, I still have several friends who do serve and we’re all paying them. Why? What good or service did I provide? Did you feel safe because I stood on the wall? Did you purchase a “feeling”? After 9/11 did you want your money back? How about after the Paris attacks and after San Bernadino? Did you “feel” you received equal value for the money you put forth?
Or maybe you’re buying virtue? Is that what I was selling? In the Air Force, the core values are Integrity First, Service Before Self, and Excellence In All We Do. I’m sure the other branches have their own values, some might even be more eloquently stated. Is this what you wanted? Buying a McDouble requires a certain level of integrity, but if the employee made it with the proper ingredients and only the proper ingredients, I don’t think I would inquire as to whether or not he ascribed to an over-arching code of conduct before I decided to purchase the burger. But defending a nation seems to necessarily require a code of conduct that reaches all aspects of a soldier’s life. Is that why you paid me? As reward for or incentive to live virtuously? A “someone has to protect, but not just anyone will do; so we must pay him to be of sound character (whether in reward for behavior already witnessed or as incentive to live up to high standards)” type of monetary exchange?
Tell me. Please. Why did you pay me?