We Were Soldiers (God’s Will)
Main Point: When we need to know the purpose for our lives, the best plan is to turn to God to find out what He wants.
The Movie Clip:
We Were Soldiers, starring Mel Gibson, was one of the great “war” movies produced by Hollywood. It followed the 7th Cavalry that was a part of the opening conflict in Vietnam. The focal point of the movie shows the stresses the men were under as soldiers, but also as fathers, brothers, friends, etc. In fact, the underlying point of the clip below talks about being a father and a soldier and how that tension is played out.
The movie is rated R because of intense war footage and the foul language that usually accompanies such a horrific setting. However, this clip takes place before the men go off to war and is totally clean. In fact, it takes place in a church.
Introducing the Clip:
We Were Soldiers is one of the great “Vietnam War movies” out there. It stars Mel Gibson as Col. Moore, the man who led some of the first American troops into battle in that jungle country. In the clip you’re about to see, one of his men, Lt. Jack Geoghegan (pronounced “Gay-Gen”) has just become a father, so Col. Moore hunts him down in the church where he’s praying to congratulate his young officer. They have a serious conversation about being a father AND a soldier…and then Lt. Jack asks a deep question about God’s will. Let’s take a look.
Note: This film is available for rent or purchase; pick up a copy and cue it up to the scene mentioned below.
BEGIN CLIP AT 0 HOURS 21 MINUTES AND 30 SECONDS (in Chapter 4).
Moore: At ease. I heard that one of my new lieutenants became a father; came to say congratulations.
Geoghegan: Thank you, sir.
Moore: So, uh, I didn’t want to disturb you.
Geoghegan: Oh, no, no, it’s fine. It’s alright. Please.
Moore: How’s your wife?
Geoghegan: She’s OK. She’s OK. She’s sleeping. So is my daughter. I just wanted to be here for a while before I held her.
Moore: What, did you tag her already? What’s that say?
Geoghegan: Oh, Camille. I’m sorry about that sir.
Moore: Don’t you take that off. You leave that on where it is. That’s an order.
Geoghegan: Colonel. May I ask you a question?
Geoghegan: What do you think about being a soldier and a father?
Moore: I hope that being good at the one makes me better at the other. Why? What about you?
Geoghegan: I don’t know, sir. Between college and here, Barbara and I spent a year in Africa. We helped build a school for orphans. They were orphans because the warlord across the border didn’t like their tribe. I know God has a plan for me. I just hope it’s to help protect orphans, not make any.
Moore: Why don’t we ask Him? Come on, let’s go ask Him.
(The two men move from their pew to the altar so they can pray.)
Moore: Our Father in Heaven, before we go into battle, every soldier among us will approach You each in his own way. Our enemies too, according to their own understanding, will ask for protection and for victory. And so we bow before Your infinite wisdom; we offer our prayers as best we can. I pray that You watch over the young men like Jack Geoghegan that I lead into battle. You use me as Your instrument in this awful Hell of war to watch over them, especially if they are men like this one beside me deserving of a future in Your blessing and goodwill. Amen.
END CLIP AT 0 HOURS 24 MINUTES AND 23 SECONDS.
(Be sure to end the clip here, because Col. Moore uses foul language immediately after saying “Amen.”)
Pretty deep conversation, huh? What do you think? Is being a father compatible with being a soldier, and vice versa? And what about God’s will? What do you think God’s will for Lt. Jack was? And do you think Col. Moore had the right approach in answering that question? None of those are easy questions to answer about those two men. Likewise, it’s not easy to answer those questions in our own lives. But we must, because understanding the will of God is the most important thing about our lives. When we need to know the purpose for our lives, the best plan is to turn to God to find out what He wants. Let’s talk about how to do that, now.
Divide into Small Groups:
Let’s go ahead and split up into our discussion groups, and then afterward we’ll come back together for a final word.
CLICK HERE for a quick training article on how to maximize your small groups using our small group format—a great resource to equip your small group leaders.
- AROUND THE CIRLCE: As we get started, let’s all take a second to share our names and the name of somebody we personally know who is serving in the military right now.
- ASK A FEW: Lt. Jack asked a good question. Do you think it’s possible to be a good soldier AND a good father? Why or why not?
- ASK A FEW: Jack said, “I know God has a plan for me” but he didn’t seem to know what that plan was. Do you ever wonder if God has a plan for your life? Why?
- ASK A FEW: What was Col. Moore’s suggestion, and was it a good one in your opinion? (Leaders – He said, “Well, let’s ask Him [God]. The main thing is to find out if your students think this is a wise move, or overly simplified, etc.)
- ASK A FEW: Do you think asking God about His will for our lives is as simple as Col. Moore made it out to be? Why or why not?
- ASK A FEW: How important is it to know God’s plan for our lives?
- ASK A FEW: Do you have a particular way you go about determining what God’s will for your life is? Can you share?
- ASK A FEW: In the clip, God didn’t seem to answer their prayer. What should we do in that circumstance?
Read the following passage:
Romans 11:34 – 12:2 (NIV)
“Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?” 35 “Who has ever given to God, that God should repay him?” 36 For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen. Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God– this is your spiritual act of worship. 2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is– his good, pleasing and perfect will.
In the clip we watched, Col. Moore had some good advice for Lt. Jack: ask God! But let’s face it; sometimes when we ask God about His will, we get a big fat field of crickets in response. Nothing.
It makes us wonder, “God, are you listening to me? Do you even care?”
I assure you that God is listening, and I promise you He cares. I don’t have the time to prove that to you, so you’ll have to take my word for it, but the Bible makes it clear in many, many places that God cares about us and wants us to accomplish His will with our lives. If you don’t believe, just read 3 or 4 pages from anywhere in the Bible and you see a couple examples of that truth.
But just because it’s true doesn’t make it easy. Sometimes, God’s will is simple to discover; sometimes it’s difficult to know and understand. In those times when God seems quiet, the best thing to do is make sure we are complying with Romans 12:1-2, the passage we just read.
Let me give you an illustration. Let’s say that God wants you to play baseball this season instead of soccer. You pray about it, you ask your parents and trusted advisors, and even consult Scripture. But because neither baseball nor soccer is mentioned in God’s Word, you goof up and eventually decide to play soccer, when all along God really wanted you to play baseball.
Does God not love you anymore? Is God gonna write you off because you misunderstood His will? Do you think God is going to strike you down with zits and lightning bolts because you took path A when He wanted you to take path B?
No! Here’s why: Even if we misunderstand God’s will, He can still use us. There will be teenagers on the soccer team who need to hear about Jesus. There will be times when your teammates will see you obey all the rules of the game, even though that game is soccer instead of baseball. There will be plenty of opportunities to pray for your coach, regardless of which sport he’s leading.
Do you see? If you move to Seattle, Washington or Miami, Florida, God still expects you to obey Him and comply with Romans 12. That’s the key.
Yes, ask God what His will is. Yes, read the Bible and tell God you want Him to be clear. Heck, you might even want to occasionally fast. But even if you choose the wrong path, God can still use you.
Before we leave, let me read you a few passages from Scripture that talk about God’s will for various people. I want you to listen closely and ponder what’s being said between these people and God, and see if there is anything you can learn from them. I’m not going to say anything about these stories; I’m just going to read them.
- Exodus 3:1-22 (The story of Moses)
- Luke 5:1-11 (Jesus calls His disciples to be fishers of men)
- James 1:5-8 (James’ instruction on wisdom)
Now that I’ve read these passages to you, I’m going to pray for you that God’s will is just as clear to you as it was to these people.
Close in Prayer
Written by David R Smith
Jonathan McKee is the author of over twenty books including the brand new The Bullying Breakthrough; The Teen’s Guide to Social Media & Mobile Devices; If I Had a Parenting Do Over; and the Amazon Best Seller - The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket. He speaks to parents and leaders worldwide, all while providing free resources for youth workers on TheSource4YM.com. Jonathan, his wife Lori, and their three kids live in California.