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Semper Fi

by Mark L. Bailey on July 7, 2006 in None

I’ll never forget the 1983 terrorist bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut. Hundreds were killed or wounded. Ingrained in my mind are horrific scenes of dazed survivors digging out fallen comrades from beneath debris.

As the story is told, Marine Corps Commandant Paul Kelly visited some of the wounded. Among those visited was severely wounded Corporal Jeffrey Lee Nashton. As Kelly neared him, Nashton struggled to talk but he couldn’t because of the tubes coming from his throat. Instead he motioned for paper and a pen. He wrote a simple note and passed it back to the commandant. Jotted down were two words—Semper Fi, the Latin motto of the Marines meaning “forever faithful.”

Semper Fi. While the motto rings of nobility—and rightfully so—it also speaks of simple duty. Not action tied to the applause to which we are so often drawn, but true duty. Duty that calls us to do … simply because we are called to do so.

In this year’s issues of Kindred Spirit we have tracked the progressive seasons of the Christian life. The mid-year months emphasized that summer growth should lead to autumn fruitfulness. Yet when the fruit has been harvested, winter is upon us. And it’s there that our journey must end, and end well. What God has started needs to be carried to completion. Our faith should mature into faithfulness. We’re called to faithful duty as long as we have breath.

Jesus’ parable in Luke 17:7–10 has ministered to me recently. There we read that Jesus asked His disciples to role-play the part of a master and answer questions about expectations between master and servant. He then asked them to revert to their rightful role as servants and engage in some biblical “self talk.” The passage closes with Jesus saying that even if we as His disciples could be absolutely obedient to all the commands—obviously hyperbole—our attitude should be one of gratitude for the grace of God that allows us to serve Him at all. May God help us to serve His purposes in our seasons of opportunity. And when we have done all we were commanded to do, we should say to ourselves (in the humility of heart enjoined by our Lord), “‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty’” (v. 10).

Semper Fi, my friends, Semper Fi!

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