Recently, I saw the film “Flags Of Our Fathers” with my 83-year-old dad, who was a U.S. Marine in World War II and the Korean War. He said that the film was disappointing to him. He felt that the controversy about the photograph of the flag raising over Mount Surabachi detracted from what was actually accomplished by the Marines at Iwo Jima. And I can see his point. As I think about it, what left the greatest impression on me is comprehending how tough the resistance of the Japanese soldiers defending the island was and how determined the U.S. Marines had to be in order to capture that stronghold.
The morning after watching this film I attended my second Letters From Dad session with John Biagianti at my church. This segment was devoted to writing a letter of blessing to my child. As we discussed how the letters to our wives were going and how things were at home, I was deeply impressed by the amount of internal opposition, emotional and spiritual, we were all experiencing in doing something that didn’t seem that hard to do on the surface. I thought to myself, “Why the resistance?”
Then my mind went back to “Flags of Our Fathers” and the battle of Iwo Jima where the Marines fought so hard to take control of Mount Surabachi. That little volcanic mound was extremely heavily fortified by the enemy since the Japanese army realized that holding Surabachi was the key to controlling the entire island. And the island was extremely strategic for the Americans. Once under U.S. control an air base could be established that would enable air raids to be launched right into Japan itself.
The identity of Iwo Jima was transformed from a Japanese stronghold to an American airstrip through a very bloody and costly battle. The intensity of the enemy’s resistance and the Marines' efforts was in direct proportion to the importance of what was at stake for both sides. To me this illustrates why it is so difficult for a father to follow through and give an identity and destiny-affirming blessing to his wife and children. Our enemy, the devil, knows the power of that blessing and how it will project deeply into his territory down through the generations. The intensity of our enemy’s resistance is in direct proportion to what is at stake for both the kingdom of light and the kingdom of darkness in the battle for our families' hearts!
But our enemy has reinforcements. According to the Bible, the world system we live in and the sinful nature we have inherited from Adam ally themselves with the devil, to attempt to thwart our efforts at establishing relationships with our wives and children. It becomes all about BEHAVIOR, and not about BELIEF, forcing us to define them by how they act, what we can observe rather than seeing them with the eyes of faith. And as long as we husbands and fathers define our family members according to how they speak to us or treat us, we are only REACTING to their own behaviorally-induced, others-reinforced lies. And it seems to be an almost daily battle for me to overcome this “reaction mode” mentality.
Like the U.S. Marines on Iwo Jima, we must push through and take our hills of blessing our families and NOT be dissuaded by the hardened resistance we encounter. If anything, we should know that because of such opposition, our waging the battle to plant Christ’s flag of blessing in our family members’ hearts is all the more necessary. Saint Augustine said it well. “Faith is to believe what we do not see; and the reward of this faith is to see what we believe.” You and I can choose to believe in who they are, seeing them through the eyes of the Heavenly Father, confirming in them an identity and destiny that they will joyfully seek to live up to.
How about you? Do you have a story of “pushing through” to give a written blessing to your wife or children? Was it worth it? Will you persevere none the less?
ALSO Check out the Letters From Dad website and look into starting a group like this in your church, community group or neighborhood. (www.lettersfromdad.com) Or if you are in the Northwest area contact Mr. John Biagianti at firstname.lastname@example.org