Basic Training
John D. Telgren

I hated shining shoes in Basic Training. There were other things I would rather be doing instead of sitting on the floor with a brush and mounds of cotton balls stained with black Kiwi shoe polish! If our boots and dress shoes were not perfect we paid for it dearly!

During one of our trips to the Base Exchange, one of the guys in our unit discovered a "Shine Sponge" that was supposed to give us an effortless shine. Nearly every single person in the unit bought one. When we got back to the barracks, we applied the sponge (which appeared to be some kind of clear oil) to our footwear, and they shone like a mirror! It left a coat of some sort of oil on them which produced an almost unearthly shine.

We were confident that when our Training Instructor came by (as he always did) in the middle of the night that we would not have our bunks tipped over due to a less-than-perfect shine on our boots and shoes.

Most of us were rudely awakened on the cold floor with a bunk bed lying on top of us. Why? Our boots had no shine! We got the biggest chewing out since the beginning of training. The lights came on. We were wide-awake now. Our boots! Our shoes!! They were the most ugly dull things we had ever seen. Why? The oil had soaked into the leather and made the leather more dull than the day we had them issued to us. The only ones who had shines on their shoes were the ones who didn't use the shine sponge on them.

There are some things in life that you can't cut corners with. The Bible says,

"Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly discerning the word of truth (2 Tim 2:15)."

Boy did I feel ashamed of my footwear that evening. It was clear that all of us were trying to cut corners. Diligence is a must for spiritual growth.

"Now no discipline seem to be joyful for the present, but grievous. However, afterward it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it (Heb 12:11)."

Basic training was all about discipline. We learned self-discipline and were all the better for it. Discipline is a must for spiritual growth. This is why so many people refer to spiritual "disciplines." It is interesting that immediately after Jesus was baptized, he was led "by the Spirit" into the wilderness to be tempted by the Devil (Matt 3:1). Even Jesus learned self-discipline the same way we learn it.

What is your attitude toward God's training? The Hebrew writer describes what it should be:

"My son, do not despise the discipline of the Lord, nor be faint when you are reproved by Him. For whom the Lord loves, he disciplines, and scourges every son whom he receives (Heb 12:5b-6).

God only wants what is best for us. He disciplines us for our good because he loves us. We should not blow it off or be discouraged by it. The problem is that many of us do. We drop out of training and re-enter civilian life. We can't learn to stand against Satan this way. Even our Lord Jesus began with a forty-day training program in the desert. If that is what Jesus' training consisted of, can we expect anything less for ourselves?