National Service Reflections (Part 1)
By bro Cornelius Lee
Tough times don't last, but tough men do. - Cornelius
At this point in time, finally, I am reaching the finishing line of my two-year compulsory NS, getting back my pink IC, and moving on in life as a civilian. Many things have happened in the past two years, both good and bad. Hence, to retain what I have learned, I'll use this opportunity of writing a bulletin article to share and reflect on my two-year physical experience, and through this act of reflection view it through a spiritual lens to value add to my personal experience and share it as a whole with everyone so that we can grow together spiritually as Christians. An article that details my journey through tough military training and my thoughts and reflections. Follow me down this journey, where I pen my reflections to the best of my ability on the past two years of mud, sweat, and tears that is the experience of an infantry trooper.
The Sinking Ship
“Imagine a ship that is sinking. The ship sank because of the water that entered the ship. The ship is surrounded by water, but once water enters the ship, the ship will start to sink.”
When I enlisted, I thought, "Hey, it's gonna be easy." “I can take care of myself; I'm independent". From waking up on time to hand washing clothes in a pail, I got it down easily, but no one told me that the people around me would be a problem... OK, I'm kidding. One of my biggest fears was being thrown straight into the melting pot called Tekong Island. BMT wasn’t easy, that's for sure. From being unfit to dealing with people who are struggling to adapt to the military lifestyle, a whole range of challenges popped up for me, but the biggest challenge that lasted even after BMT was working with other people from my platoon. Being surrounded by people is tough enough, but being surrounded by these young punks is even harder. Vulgarities were hurled around, and the smell of smoke and alcohol lingered around the toilets, bunks, and staircases. A place where some people around me have no respect for authority, and when they get caught and punished for their transgressions, it takes only a few weeks for them to revert to their usual ways. Throughout these two years, this cycle of disobeying commands, being caught and punished, and reverting has been prevalent.
I really felt like I was Lot in the city of Sodom and Gomorrah, vexed from seeing and hearing the unlawful deeds of others. (2 Pet 2:9-10). It also reminded me of the time of Judges, where the Israelites were in this constant cycle of sin, in which every man did what was right in their own eyes. (Jdg 21:25) It felt like I was a ship surrounded by “water”, and if I let the "water" in, I would start sinking. Paul had written in 1Co 15:33, "Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners." There are times when we unconsciously do the same things as the people around us, where we start speaking the same as others or when we start developing habits like that of other people. There is a need to be vigilant to ensure that there are no cracks or holes in our moral compass so as not to let bad habits in, to not be easily influenced by other bad deeds.
How do we maintain our ship, our moral compass, so that it does not crack and lead us astray and we start sinking? Solomon has written in Proverbs 13:20-21, "He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed. Evil pursueth sinners: but to the righteous, good shall be repayed." Instead of spending time with bad influences, we should be avoiding them, only interacting with them when necessary, and continuing on the path of the wise and righteous. If possible, try to find others who have a good moral compass. We must develop mental resistance and keep our Christian integrity in this world.
“The 9th Core Value”
"The SAF 8 core values are loyalty to county, leadership, discipline, fighting spirit, ethics, care for soldiers, safety!"
This is what we chant almost every day during a water parade. Notice that there are only 8 core values? This segment is titled "The 9th Core Value!" So, what is the 9th core value?
“You can do anything but don’t get caught”
This statement reeks of a lack of integrity. From bringing in contraband to bringing phones outfield, I have seen many things that were not aligned with the commands given to us. Lie and deceive the commanders and try to do things that aren’t allowed. The problem is that when some get caught, they still do not admit their mistakes. Once, there was this guy who broke SAF property, but he did not admit his mistake, which caused the whole platoon to waste time standing in the parade square and writing a statement.
In the book of Acts, we read the story of Ananias and Sapphira. Acts 5:1–11 documents the account of how Ananias and Sapphira lied and suffered punishment afterwards. Not only did they show a lack of integrity, but even after Ananias’ death, Sapphira also lied about the cost of the land. Granted, Sapphira did not know about her husband’s death, but she could have told the truth and repented. They were trying to not get caught in their lie and paid dearly for it.
There is no hiding from God, He knows everything. We read the story of Jonah, and how, instead of preaching in Nineveh, he went the other direction and ended up in the belly of a big fish for three days and three nights. (Jonah 1) When Samuel was looking for a new king for Israel, God rejected Eliab as He looketh on the heart. (1 Sam 16:7) Even when we go all the way back to the book of Genesis, where Cain killed Abel, God knows. (Gen 4:8-10) Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 states, "Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil." You can never keep any secret sin from God, He knows everything.
We cannot try to hide anything from God. What we can do is to repent and continue to stay faithful to Him. To stay faithful to Him until death. (Rev 2:10)