I watched a movie on YouTube the other day and it really impacted me deeply. Like many guys, manly men, lol, I like war movies and action movies. I also love to watch accurate, true documentaries. The most recent such documentaries that I watched is called: “The Battle of Chosin” A PBS American Experience Documentary 2017, about the Korean War. Chosin is a mountain, valley and lake region of North Korea.
As many wars have come and gone, we don’t seem to hear much about the Korean War and there weren’t many Hollywood movies made about it. However I have an uncle who recently passed away who served in the Korean war and also some lifelong friends who are older than me who deployed in various aspects of the Korean War. This particular documentary details and chronicles the mistake and the overreach that General Douglas MacArthur made in his zeal to take the entire Korean peninsula. The speed and the extension of the war into the far north of Korea caused the Chinese to react and to engage in direct war with U.S. troops. This movie chronicles the strategies, encampments, battle plans and the dire sufferings of both U.S. and Chinese troops. In such a movie there are many instances that can astound one and give one pause to think. There are moments when soldiers remove their boots only to find that their toes have fallen off due to frostbite — so sad, but so valiant.
There is one particular interview that grabbed me by the heart and said, “You have to speak about what this man lived and apply it to the disciples at the Mount of Olives and to the lives of those of us who continue the spiritual war today. A particular veteran made a statement as to how he survived the war. He was speaking about the bitter cold of the Northern mountains where temperatures plunged to -30 and -50 degrees fahrenheit. Such temperatures are unimaginable to me. I get cold when temps drop down to the 20’s in the North Georgia mountains, but here we are talking about temperatures that are super extreme and in these conditions these men had to fight to survive and fight to remain vigilant and unfrozen.
During the interview this particular veteran said, “I learned how to survive.” He went on to say that many men laid down and froze to death in the snow. He explained how it was that just before nodding off to sleep one would feel the most warm sensation throughout their body and would enticingly fall asleep seemingly warm and comfortable, only to never wake up on earth again. So as the interview progresses the aged warrior shared his secret to surviving in North Korea. Maybe you are a Korean War Veteran? Maybe a Vietnam War Veteran? Some are war veterans of wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, parts of Africa or other places – receive the gratitude of a grateful and blessed nation. Thank you for your service and feel free to share this link with anyone who has served, appreciates those who have served or will be serving soon.
The interviewer ask, “So how did you learn to survive? What was your secret?” The now wrinkled and grey haired warrior responded casually, “I learned to sleep sitting on my helmet!” The interviewer looked perplexed and says, “I don’t get it.” The old warrior explains that by sleeping in a sitting position on his helmet while in the firefight, or on watch allowed him to feel that very warm and coveted feeling just before nodding off to sleep, but that when he fell asleep he would topple off of his helmet and hit the ground and be awakened into the reality of -50 degree temperatures and life, as it was. He said that many, many others just laid down and never arose on earth. This caused me to think about that time on the Mount of Olives when Jesus asked His disciples to keep watch with Him. Let’s read it:
Matthew 26:36-46 New King James Version (NKJV)
The Prayer in the Garden
36 Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to the disciples, “Sit here while I go and pray over there.” 37 And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed. 38 Then He said to them, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me.”
39 He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.”
40 Then He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, “What! Could you not watch with Me one hour? 41 Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
42 Again, a second time, He went away and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if this cup cannot pass away from Me unless[a] I drink it, Your will be done.” 43 And He came and found them asleep again, for their eyes were heavy.
44 So He left them, went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words. 45 Then He came to His disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners. 46 Rise, let us be going. See, My betrayer is at hand.”
Jesus, had some of His disciples sit in a certain place and then He took 3 of His top officers and set them on a watch. Many things had happened in the previous hours and days and these men were all tired, very tired, yet they were deep into a spiritual war that required that they “learn how to survive and how to overcome.” Jesus was asking them to keep watch with Him and to be vigilant with Him in prayer. Less than an hour later Jesus came back and found all of His top officers stretched out and sleeping so comfortably that he had to wake them up and question them. It had been less than an hour and they like so many soldiers in North Korea had stretched out, felt that brief warmth and drifted off to sleep. They were on the precipice of spiritual all out warfare and there they were sleeping. Jesus acknowledges that the flesh is weak, even when the spirit is willing. Jesus called the result saying if we fail to watch and to pray then we will enter into temptation. The Battle Of Being Called | Chosen | Faithful requires that you keep watch, if need be, sitting on your helmet!
Having given strict instructions and having awakened them Jesus leaves a second time to pray and came back and found them all asleep again, for their eyes were heavy. Yet again Jesus left to go pray an upon returning He found his top commanders and soldiers sleeping soundly and resting. I can’t help but think that if these disciples would have only learned what the Korean War Veteran had learned then they too would have sat on their helmets to keep watch with Jesus. We know that the Bible talks about “the helmet of salvation.” If these disciples, the officers, commanders and foot soldiers of Jesus would have realized that their very salvation was at stake them perhaps they would have sat upon their helmet of salvation and fought the good fight in the spirit by obeying Jesus, despite the pull of the flesh and the physical tiredness. If only they had “slept on their helmets” like good soldiers who know that staying awake is one of the most crucial challenges of keeping watch. Their salvation, our salvation was at stake in these very hours when they laid prostrate and slept. Thank God for Jesus who prevailed in keeping watch, in prayers and in doing the will of God. The Battle Of Being Called | Chosen | Faithful requires that you keep watch, if need be, sitting on your helmet!
Maybe you have “fallen asleep” in the spirit? Maybe you have grown tired and weary and just sort of laid prostrate and are sleeping and resting, when you should be praying and keeping watch. Jesus is very clear that we are to faithfully keep watch, to keep our lamps filled with oil, being symbolically the active presence of the Holy Spirit working in us and through us and that we are to keep our lamps trimmed brightly. In order for you lamp to be trimmed brightly you must be awake and turning the wick to optimal location throughout the night. Perhaps you know already that Jesus has called you to be a Watchman and to keep watch, but you’ve drifted off to sleep. I encourage you today to “learn to keep watch sitting on your battle helmet, so that if by chance you do fall asleep, that you will be awakened by your fall.” The Battle Of Being Called | Chosen | Faithful requires that you keep watch, if need be, sitting on your helmet!
Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent.
Or you can watch the full documentary here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=erCtuu76P00