I loved my wife’s grandfather. When she was little, sitting at his table, he would wait for her to look away so he could steal a cookie or dump more peas on her plate. He always sat in the same seat and thanked his wife for the food before leaving his chair. There was an old tree behind his house where he would hang gum from the branches. My wife and her sisters thought it was a gum tree. I met him when he was much older. He would sit in his chair next to a potted cactus and watch for the school bus to make its morning route. 

He always shook my hand firmly, with the strength of a much younger man. We would talk about where we lived and what I did for work. Then he would tell me how he worked for the highway department and how I should stay away from the drink. Sometimes he would talk about the war. He would place his strong hand on his forehead and get very quiet when he talked about the war. This makes sense considering he walked across Europe for four years before finally coming home. 

A few weeks ago my wife met her mom for lunch. She came home with these old magazines and newspapers from the 1940s, things her grandfather had saved from the war. As we looked through the delicate pages, my wife stopped on a photo showing a sea of soldiers standing together looking up. I was arrested by another image. The cover of one of the publications featured a man balancing a stack of large discs. There were a dozen or so. A small caption in the lower corner told the story: Nazi Mines.

The reason the image caught me was the expression on the man’s face. His mouth was open in a full smile, the kind you see on a person who just finished a good laugh. If the mines were heavy, there was no indication of it on his face. I asked myself how this man could find joy while standing on the front lawn of hell. I wondered how he’d found a way to override the fear. Because the business of locating and disabling landmines is fraught with danger and high fatality.


Then God spoke to me about the image. He said this is a picture of our mission. This photograph conveys the assignment we’ve been given as men. The great dragon has been thrown down and disarmed (Col 2:15). His loss is certain. This is true and we can live in confidence about this fact. But it is also true that he has not yet been destroyed and there are remnants of evil still left to confront. There are mines buried across fields where we live and work and love and play. Death waits under the feet of our wives and kids and friends.

And we are called to the good work of tracking down and disabling these mines. It’s a risk to live and love this way—to take on this assignment. It could cost us our lives. But one day we will be sitting around a table, counting the mines we’ve pulled out of the ground, and laughing like men who don’t know the meaning of fear.

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