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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Volunteer (11/23/06)

TITLE: A Willing Heart
By Gary Kurz


It wasn't of the magnitude of 9/11, but the news stunned the nation just the same. Pat Tillman was dead. The man who personified the "can do" spirit of America, the ultimate volunteer, had fallen in battle. His courage and willingness to stand on his convictions for the benefit of this country mirrored the example set by the founding fathers. Like them, he walked away from personal fortune and fame, risking his life when he did not have to, pushed on by the dictates of a patriot's heart. No price could have kept him from what he perceived to be his duty; no cost could have persuaded him to reconsider.

Working hard to achieve personal readiness for combat, he pushed himself relentlessly, as he had done in the National Football League. His arduous training complete, he arrived on the battlefield a distinguished Army Ranger and became the darling of the American public. Collectively, perhaps without even realizing it, Americans channeled their zeal and support for the war effort through this one towering volunteer. Tillman had become the Audie Murphy of our day, capturing the hearts of most Americans.

Now he was gone. If that was not enough, we were to learn that he fell, not at the hands of terrorists or insurgents, but rather from accidental friendly fire. The delay of this news and the apparent attempt to cover up the circumstances of his death, led to public indignation and an understandable response of outrage from his family. That notwithstanding, Tillman's wonderful example of selflessness should not be diminished in the minds of Americans, especially Christian Americans.

What set him apart from the other great men and women of our armed services was his willingness to subordinate himself when he was on top of the world. By his own admission he felt he owed a debt to society and he willingly volunteered to pay it. Although sadly, Tillman himself claimed to be an atheist, we Christians would do well to emulate his altruistic and sacrificial spirit.

There are many similarities between Tillman's situation and that of the believer. In Christ, we also are on top of the world, figuratively speaking. Romans 8:37 (kjv) reminds us that "…we are more than conquerors through him that loved us". Additionally, we too have a debt to society; to bring the good news of Jesus Christ to them. We too must subordinate ourselves, assuming the role of soldier and servant in order to accomplish our mission and win the battle.

Moreover, like Tillman, we are volunteers, or at least we should be. Of course we have a mandate from the Lord to "go and teach all nations"; I won't argue that. Clearly, Jesus was not asking for volunteers. The reality is however, that many Christians do not go, because they chose not to. God allows us to exercise our free will and we are free to disobey.

Could God force us to obey? Of course he could…but he doesn't. God does not want us to be mindless drones without conviction. He wants us to willingly and purposely obey him. He desires for us to voluntarily submit to his will and to carry out the great commission to evangelize.

While we can do nothing more for Pat Tillman than to celebrate his service to America, he can do much for us by the example he set. Christians need to catch hold of his selfless zeal and surrender themselves to the work of the Lord. The Lord loves a willing heart.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Helen Paynter11/30/06
I'd never heard of Pat Tillman before but you applied the lesson of his life well. Thank you.
Donna Powers 12/02/06
I don't know who Pat Tillman is, either but your story made it clear that he was someone whose example we would do well to follow. Good work!
Esther Phillips12/04/06
Pat Tillman was a fine example of volunteering. He did not have to go, but he chose to go. That sounds like Jesus to me. I didn't know he professed to be Atheist. My own grandson went to Iraq, too. He finished his first enlistment and could have come home but chose to re-enlist. Shortly thereafter, he lost his life there. He totally believed in what he was doing. Thank you for writing this article. You did a great job.