The warning, “Watch your step!” takes on extra weight for those who do foot patrols where IEDs are likely to be placed. When King David said there was only a step between him and death, he may have been speaking figuratively. In modern warfare this is often a reality. Actually, it is always a reality.
The transition back from a combat zone is seldom easy. Hypervigilant is the term sometimes used to describe the person having difficulty doing this. Reckless, is another. So is unpredictable. Warzone thoughts and feelings do not fit well in the back-home peace zone. Adjustments need to be made.
Over time, most make the switch back to normal, or at least to the new normal. But few forget
what it was like to live one step away from death. That’s not necessarily bad. The remembrance pays dividends as life goes on. It reminds us that no matter where we are, or how old we are, there is only one step to death’s door. That honest realization shouldn’t terrify us, but it should make us careful. After spending time in distant and dangerous places, we may be tempted to think that if we made it through that, we can make it through anything. We abandon caution. Or maybe, we are tempted to renew that emotional rush brought on by living on the edge.
Defying death with speed down a roadway or with speed in our system can be exhilarating—
but surely not wise. Those are deathtraps, and to be avoided. Tiptoeing through life in fear or racing through life in bravado is not a good way to live a life. It is not God’s way. God’s way involves confident caution.
A troubled Job once asked about his Creator and Lord, “Does he not see my ways and count my
every step” (Job 31:4)? The expected answer was: “Yes! Yes, he does!” Yes, he does see my ways. I am never off his radar screen. He sees what is done in secret. He sees the plans I am making. Camouflage doesn’t fool him. The future doesn’t surprise him. He counts every step. He knows how tired I become. He knows how many steps away I am from danger or disaster. He watches over my soul as well as my body. He sees the dangers that threaten either of them, or both of them.
Some newer cars come equipped with sensors that detect when the vehicle crosses into a different lane without the turn signal activated. It’s there to prevent unintentional drifting into danger. A signal shows up on the dashboard. A vibration is felt in the driver’s seat. The steering wheel is nudged back to the original lane. It can be a lifesaver.
God does this even better. The Creator God has given us an alerting conscience. His Word points us to the safe path and warns against the dangerous dead ends. As the Savior God, he has given us forgiveness and redemption. As the Sanctifying God, he empowers us to follow the road to heaven. We can joyfully live a life of cautious confidence. After all, it is God who watches our steps.
We pray: Lord of the nations, and Savior of our souls, we live our lives—one step after another without knowing what that next stride will bring. When we look back over our path, we can now see how close to tragedy we have come at times. When we look ahead, we wonder how we will avoid disaster. But you know. In you we put our trust. Keep watching our steps. Amen.
Written by Pastor Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain
and Liaison to the Military, Cape Coral, Florida
Provided by WELS Ministry to the Military