by Lt. Col. Vicky Blancaflor
For some time, my profile description in Facebook reads “Soldier of God — Working and Fighting for His Agenda.” In the catechism seminar given before administering the Sacrament of Confirmation, I can only distinctly remember (I was in 5th grade elementary) that after being confirmed, we will become ‘soldiers’ of God to ‘fight’ for our belief as Christians. The meaning of those teachings had not really sunk in then.
When I wrote that description, I was with the Chief of the Army Gender and Development Office. In my mind, I had come to an awareness of the inequalities experienced by women, by soldiers themselves and their families as the exigencies of being member of the Armed Forces takes a toll on the values, emotional and social support of their families, who are even patronizingly called ‘dependents’ (like they are helpless beings without the soldier-family member to depend upon). I thought these advocacies are what God wants me to do — to fight for the rights of the oppressed and capacitate Army personnel to have strong, healthy and financially/emotionally/spiritually-stable families.
Then one day, in one of my visits to our units in the field, I met one of my upperclassmen in PMA. He finished a degree of Masters in Transformational Leadership. He recounted that mentoring is central to the leadership framework that is based on how Jesus Christ is modeled as a leader. He told me this story that one of the lieutenants recounted how during a combat operation, they lay in wait to ambush enemy dissident terrorists in a certain area in the mountain jungles. True enough, enemy troops passed by their designated engagement area. They saw clearly there were people passing by and confirmed that these were the enemy they were waiting for. They fired their guns for a certain amount of time. When the Lieutenant platoon leader ordered the firing to stop and that they approach and inspect the area, there were no bodies to be found. It left them all dumbfounded but thinking they were up against some “supernatural” enemy. He asked the group of lieutenants listening to him in that training session for would-be Platoon Leaders, “do you believe in anting-anting? Do you know where that power comes from? What we know for sure is that it does not come from God.” He then proceeded to recite this quote from memory —
Ephesians 6: 12- 17
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of the world’s darkness, and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore take up the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you will be able to stand your ground, and having done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth fastened around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness arrayed, and with your feel fitted with the readiness of the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation and the sword fo the Spirit, which is the word of God.
He explained that there truly is Evil in the world, just like what the lieutenant’s story exhibited. But if you notice in the verse – there is only one WEAPON mentioned there and that is the WORD OF GOD. That is the key to defeating Evil.
At that moment, I felt grateful to receive such profound insight into being a Warrior of God. How can I fight Evil if I do not know His Word?
We may think it is only priests, pastors or catechists who wield this weapon to great effect because of the scholarly study and preaching they do. But I realize, all through the years, God has been fighting for me – for my soul – with the battle that rages in the very core of our being – my heart.
As I get to know God’s word, even the mass songs and even worship songs (Hillsong is my favorite) — they replace the ‘tape’ in my head that says I am not worthy, that I am a sinner, that I cannot do all those things I am thinking about to help because I over-reach myself, that I am alone, I am unloved and nobody cares.
His words and deeds in the past millennia are etched in stone and proclaimed for all of us to use in this battle for our hears. He says we are Loved, we are His, we are His greatest creation and He knew us before we are formed in the womb, that we can do great things for His glory and to manifest His love to the world.
I have been listening to this song “Wholehearted” in the past days when I am going through what seem to be an internal Close Quarters Battle (CQB like in those movies with SWAT or special operations teams who enter buildings or houses and fight not in the open field but in closed spaces). According to Fr. James Martin’s book The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything, the more we try to get close to God and want to change, the more the bad spirits will play on repeat those loser tapes in your head and entice the heart of the shiny feel-good going to painful despairing remnants, wounds and memories of the past so that we will regress again back to what we were.
But I know now, God has been fighting for me since the beginning of time. Through our greatest weapon, His Word we can win this battle for every moment of everyday. Because winning the battle inside of us is to the first step to spreading His love, power and goodness to the world.
Whole-hearted (Hold Me Now) by Hillsong worship*
Hold me now
In the hands that created the heavens
Find me now
Where the grace runs as deep as Your scars
You pulled me from the clay
You set me on a rock
Called me by Your Name
And made my heart whole again
So here I stand High in surrender
I need You now
Hold my heart
Now and forever
My soul cries out
Once I was broken
But You loved my whole heart through
Sin has no hold on me
‘Cause Your grace holds me now.
*photo from Christiantoday.com.au