It’s hard to leave this subject. Vietnam sticks in the craw of this nation and especially in the psyche of my generation. We still don’t know what to think about it. I don’t, at least. It hasn’t been until this week that I have actually heard from someone I know personally who survived combat there. It’s been somewhat cathartic for me. Up until now, it’s been newspaper pictures, television clips and movies that have tried to bring Vietnam home to us, but none of that is quite like hearing it from someone you grew up with. So forgive me if I’ve overdone this. Probably time to move on, but for those who have been there, there are probably ways in which they can never move on. I’m sure it moves with them.
It’s been great to get to know Tim Lickness a little bit through these stories. I’m sad to have to admit that in high school I thought of him more as a “nobody” just because he wasn’t “in” with the popular, cool group I was so bent on trying to be a part of. That just sounds awful to have to say, but it was true. Sorry Tim. Please forgive me. I see you as a very big person now. You’re better than a star in the movies; you’re the real thing. And you suffered for it.
Tim told me one more Vietnam story — the darkest day of his tour there. It was the day he lead a squad of eight men right into an ambush in which all eight of them died. His radio operator was the last to expire in his arms as he was calling for an air strike that finally did in the enemy. Imagine the loneliness — the deathly quiet — when that was over. He was the last man — the only one. Tim says it took him weeks … months … years to get over that day. He lost confidence. He thought himself a failure. And for a while, he even lost his faith. It was the first time he remembers that he was actually afraid to die. Up until then, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21) had been the verse in combat that had sustained him with so much death around him, but this time, the verse failed to reach him. He could not access that gain in death. For the longest time, death was nothing but loss.
It took major intervention to get his faith back, and Tim explains that intervention as coming in the form of the Holy Spirit. What a testimony to the reality of God in a life! You can’t talk yourself into or out of reality. This was nothing short of a miracle.
It’s interesting that a similar miracle is chronicled in a popular book released last month as a major motion picture directed by Angelina Jolie called Unbroken about the story of a WWII Olympian, Louis Zamperini, who survived a near-death plane crash, 47 days on a raft in the Pacific and 2 1/2 years of torment in a Japanese prisoner of war camp. Whether the movie covers it or not (I haven’t seen it yet), the book tells how Louis went through unending mental torment after returning home that never left him until he received Christ at a Billy Graham Crusade in Los Angeles, and from that time on, he forgave his tormenter, and never had a nightmare again. It was a dramatic change explainable only by the reality of the Holy Spirit in his life.
It’s these real-life interventions by God that should increase the faith and hope in us all.
I am excited to announce that Tim is our latest new member of the Catch, and in a comment yesterday, he made what I think is a defining statement in regards to the Vietnam conflict: “It may have been lost on many of us why we were fighting the war, but we always knew we would fight for each other.”
Truthfully, I don’t think we always know why we are so often engaged in spiritual warfare, but one thing is for certain, we will stand by and for each other. We know that the Lord fights for us, but we are told in Ephesians 6 to stand in His strength, and stand we will, right down to the last man if needs be.
For sure, we stand with you. Our prayer warriors stand with you. Don’t go it alone. Let us know how we can pray for you.