Mess Hall Mates and Foxhole Friends

Mess Hall Mates and Foxhole Friends January 23, 2022
“Like digging a foxhole – It’s your own protection – Make conservation a habit;” 1941-1945, U.S. National Archives and Records Administration; Wikimedia.

I just got off the phone with one of my best friends. We were sharing and praying for one another’s families in view of tragic life experiences. My friend’s a pastor and a retired US Marine captain. He knows a lot about being in foxholes with comrades. Actually, I think he prefers it, including food in the trenches. He would rather be in a foxhole than hang out behind the front lines with mess hall mates.

 
One of the qualities my friend possesses is how he relates to others at eye level. He never sugarcoats life experiences with Hallmark spiritual platitudes or speaks down to people going through struggles in their walk with God. He gets down and dirty with them in life’s foxholes, which is where he’s at anyway.
 
There’s an old saying that goes, “There’s no atheists in foxholes.” Whether extreme challenges always lead diehard nonbelievers to turn to a higher power, spiritual platitudes that are intended to anesthetize pain and remove us from the line of fire could easily lead me away from God.
 
My friend was one of my students and now he is one of my mentors. No doubt, he heard me say a lot that one reason I find comfort in Jesus is that he does not hover overhead like a Good Year Blimp or do drive-by evangelism and counsel. He shares his life with us and goes behind enemy lines to rescue us–“God with us, Emmanuel.” (Matthew 1:23) That’s why I am a Christian.
 
I want to thank Pastor and Captain Will Haag. I want to thank all of you as well who have been with us in the fox hole this past year, as we come alongside my son Christopher, who endured a traumatic brain injury over a year ago. We are not alone. I pray that God will gift you with foxhole friends who will make up for mess hall mates, The former enter and stay with you. The latter never leave the comfort and security of the mess hall. I pray that I would make my way from the mess hall to the foxhole.
 
Life’s a fight. Christopher is fighting to survive, to live, and to thrive. Thank you for fighting with us. I salute you!
To read the various posts about our family’s unfathomable journey this past year on life support, please go to this link. Thank you for your prayers for Christopher!
About Paul Louis Metzger
Paul Louis Metzger, Ph.D., is Professor of Theology & Culture, Multnomah University & Seminary; Director of The Institute for Cultural Engagement: New Wine, New Wineskins; and Author and Editor of numerous works, including Connecting Christ: How to Discuss Jesus in a World of Diverse Paths and Evangelical Zen: A Christian's Spiritual Travels with a Buddhist Friend. You can read more about the author here.
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