Saturday, August 6, 2011
Devotional for the Day
The following is an excerpt from my new book, Stories of Faith and Courage from the Vietnam War The story is titled, "Tracers"
Red-orange fireballs erupted wherever mortars impacted, and enemy green tracers crossed paths with friendly red tracers. Seeing the colorful pyrotechnics, it was easy to forget how deadly the attacks could be. The American red tracers poured out in defense, and the enemy tracers converged inward like a million fireflies at war.
His tracer rounds ricocheted in lazy, bright-red arcs, a breath before the first pinging sounds of steel on steel returned to the south bank. Streams of tracer fire converged on the target, bouncing off in a crazy-quilt pattern and joining four times as many invisible rounds in a giant buzzing hornet’s nest of sound. Then the machine guns on the north bank opened fire in short stuttering bursts and the enemy’s tracers, bright green, came vaulting over the river.
Every fifth round in a belt of machine gun ammunition is normally a tracer. These are special bullets with a hollow base filled with a bright burning pyrotechnic material such as phosphorous or magnesium. When fired, they create a red or green streak that enables the gunner to follow the trajectory of his rounds and adjust his aim accordingly.
Unfortunately, there is an old military adage that, “Tracers work both ways.” The bright red streaks that help gunners adjust fire, also mark their position for the enemy. Hence, the converging red and green fireworks described above.
The Apostle Paul described a similar principle governing our behavior by using an agricultural metaphor: “A man reaps what he sows” (Galatians 6:7). He points out the obvious: When you plant corn, you can expect to harvest corn. When you send out indifference or irritation toward others, you can expect the same in return. Conversely, a smile or friendly gesture will usually lead to something good. The people in our lives and God himself will sooner or later follow the tracers we send out—back to their source.
The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. ~Galatians 6:8-9