The Pockmarked Army of God


They are permanent marks on my face! They have been there since I was a kid, scars I received in a battle with the Chickenpox. On the right side of my face there are two pockmarks. They have faded, but they are still visible to the naked eye. They have become a part of my “personality”, a reminder that I won the battle against an opponent that would never invade again. Why, because I am now immune! Once conquered, the Chickenpox seldom if ever strikes the same victim again.

Historians have long known that about two-thirds of the American casualties during the Revolutionary war were caused by disease. What isn’t well-known is that the British soldiers were far less likely to die from disease because they had been exposed to many of the diseases of the day and were immune; much like I have become to the Chickenpox. But most of the continental army came from farms and were susceptible, especially to smallpox, a deadly killer. General George Washington understood the importance of not only fighting the British, but fighting the ravages of disease. In “His Excellency, George Washington”, Pulitzer prize-winning author Joseph J. Ellis wrote;

“When the British began their evacuation of Boston in March of 1776, he (Washington), ordered that only troops with pockmarked faces be allowed into the city. And although many educated Americans opposed inoculation, believing that it actually spread the disease, Washington strongly supported it…inoculation became mandatory for all troops serving in the Continental army…When historians debate Washington’s most consequential decisions as commander-in-chief, they are almost always arguing about specific battles. A compelling case can be made that his swift response to the smallpox epidemic and to a policy of inoculation was the most important strategic decision of his military career” (pg. 86-87)

There are numerous parallels to the battles experienced in the Revolutionary War and the war that is being waged on this earth for the souls of man. I am certain that many of us carry or will carry scars or pockmarks from spiritual battles fought. We don’t see these pockmarks when we look in the mirror because they are of the soul.  Yet, they are real and valuable to both us and to the Lord. Those spiritually pockmarked have been tried and tested and make the best soldiers. They are required to march into new territory! The Lord has faith in them! They have proven to both the Lord and to their fellow saints that they can be trusted. They have the countenance of Christ in their faces as evidence of their will and courage to win! They are the ones who have overcome the tragedy of losing loved ones. They are those whose burden has been heavy, but their backs have never been broken.

Others have been wise, and while they have not been in the heat of the battle, they have inoculated themselves for that day. These are those who pray often, read the scriptures, attend their meetings and do all the things the Lord has commanded. Perhaps they will never face the trials of the pockmarked, but they will be ready for that day. Either way, they are ready and the Lord has faith in them both.

The two pockmarks on the right side of my face will probably be there to the end of my days here on earth.  I can look at them as scars or I can look at them as proof of my inoculation and victory over chickenpox.  I can curse the Lord for the scars, or thank him for the character of my face. It is up to me to choose! It is the same with the pockmarks of the soul. We can choose to understand that they were given to inoculate us from evil, or become bitter and fall by the wayside. It is up to us to choose!

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