You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. – Psalm 23:5
When I was going through a very difficult time in my life, my mom mailed me the book, A Table in the Presence: The Dramatic Account of How a U.S. Marine Battalion Experienced God’s Presence Amidst the Chaos of the War in Iraq, by Navy Lieutenant Carey H. Cash. The book shares details of God’s intervention into the mission of the First Battalion, Fifth Marine Regiment during its 2003 advance into Iraq from Kuwait by the battalion’s chaplain, . It’s simply an amazing testimony of God’s love, power, and sovereignty.
As the Marines advanced their way into Iraq to stop Saddam’s forces from destroying oil fields, rooting out threats and seizing the enemy’s strongholds, they met harrowing resistance from his loyalists by taking heavy small arms fire from every direction. The situation was so dangerous and the fighting so intense that two Marines lost their lives. Although, if God hadn’t intervened, the number of casualties would have been much higher.
After the chaos of fighting was over, several Marines reported strange “sightings.” They claimed to see numerous friendly, but unmarked, Amphibious Assault Vehicles that were later not there, and enemy gunmen who, without any apparent reason, turned and ran from the fight as if they had just experienced otherworldly frightfulness. There were also numerous other miraculous reports such as an enemy-fired Rocket Propelled Grenade changing direction just before hitting a Marine, and a HUMVEE full of Marines surviving a direct Rocket Propelled Grenade attack without any major injuries. Lt Cash also remembers how God led some of the Marines to one of Saddam’s political prisons and assist as hundreds of children were being set free and reunited with their parents.
The most important miracle in the midst of the chaos, took place when several Marines professed their faith in Christ and were baptized. Many hearts were changed forever, and God alone could claim the glory. God used the chaos that these Marines encountered as a backdrop for the love, peace, and joy that many of them would eventually find in Him. How often does He do that with us?
The book left such an impact on my life, my worldview shifted in a new, Christ-centered direction, giving me strength to overcome the adversity that I was facing at the time. Something that I have appreciated about studying at Regent University is that, as students, we often study and discuss topics associated with chaos and complexity theory in light of God’s Word. We study it not to revel in its ideas or pat ourselves on the back for recognizing it, but to come to the realization that our world is fallen and presents humanity with, often times, extremely difficult and ever-changing problems.
Like the Marines of the First Battalion, Fifth Regiment charged with accomplishing dangerous missions in Iraq. We, as Christians, are charged with subduing the Earth and introducing the members of mankind to the One who brings salvation, order, and simplicity in a chaotic and dangerous world. And when we are overwhelmed by the world’s onslaught of evil, destruction, pain and confusion, we can cry out to God for help. He always hears our prayers and answers our deepest needs. He will not only deliver us in mighty ways, but He will also use us to help liberate those who are in bondage to sin, pain, and suffering.
While studying at Regent, when I pick up a textbook to learn about the latest leadership theory or management trend, I also pick up a Bible and learn what the Ancient of Days has to say about the matter. It’s in God’s Word and through His Spirit that we truly learn what victory means in the midst of chaos. He is the one who prepares a table for us in the presence of our enemies.
Cash, C. (2004). A Table in the Presence: The Dramatic Account of How a U.S. Marine Battalion Experienced God’s Presence Amidst the Chaos of the War in Iraq. Nashville, TN: W Publishing Group.
Holy Bible [New American Standard Version]. (1995). The Lockman Foundation.