The Fog of War

My life is a swirl of contradictions. I suppose everyone may feel that about their own life from time to time; but let me explain what I mean. My name “Harvey” means “army battle.” This has been what I have known for some time and checking on the internet I find: It is of Old English and Old French origin, and the meaning of Harvey is "eager for battle; strong and worthy". Somewhere in the history of the Harvey name are those who came from Normandy at the invasion of England in 1066. At that time there was one who bore that name who was considered to be the greatest bowman in England.

In my own immediate history my uncle left the family home to serve in World War I. My brother served in the army in Vietnam. My son served in the navy in the submarine service. My nephew served in the army.

This past week my wife and I attended a showing of “American Sniper.” I have just read of another sniper who served three tours of duty in Afghanistan and died at the age of 28 from an accidental overdose of pain killers. His body had been unable to metabolize the doses he had been prescribed and he died during a time he had been preparing to attend a Junior College in Florida to restart his life in another direction.

I am deeply moved by these stories of men who have experienced war and the damage these experiences have caused. But I said my life was a swirl of contradictions. Let’s look at another aspect of my life.

I began to seek God seriously at the age of 7 when invited by my neighbor to attend a small Baptist church Sunday School. Shortly thereafter my family was visited by a pastor from a Free Methodist church and my mother and three younger brothers attended faithfully for all of our childhood and teenage years. I went to Roberts Wesleyan College to study for the Free Methodist ministry. I attended McMaster Divinity College to continue those studies but decided to leave the ministry and spent time in industry. During those years I attended, joined, or visited Baptist, Presbyterian, Lutheran, Roman Catholic, Pentecostal, and other denominational and non-denominational churches. All during that half-century I continued to study the Bible and consider the ways of God in relationship to man and, especially, in relationship to myself.

You will notice that part of the definition of Harvey includes, "eager for battle; strong and worthy." Recently, the scripture from Joshua 1: 2 – 9 was given to me by some who said it was a message from God for me, personally, to continue my work and be “strong and courageous.” Again I am deeply moved and find my life of contradiction coming to focus because Joshua was given these words as he prepared to lead Israel into the way to take the Promised Land. The first act of invading the land was the total destruction of Jericho including every man, woman, and child. The scriptural story is clear, and the only survivors were Rahab and her family. She became a direct ancestor of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Now, I have studied the Bible for years and have read and re-read the entire Bible multiple times. I have experienced many denominational, non-denominational, and individual interpretations of the Bible events; including the taking of the Promised Land and the subsequent history of Israel. I have reconciled within my own mind what was happening all during that time with the culminating event being the coming of Jesus into the world as God continued in His efforts to save us from Hell, for Himself, and from ourselves.

It can all be very confusing because mankind has a way of distorting what God is doing to its own ends. Usually, the ways of man twist what God is doing to provide prophet for the individual man or the individual group. As the saying goes, “follow the money,” and you will very quickly see the twist in what mankind does with God’s plan. Jesus spoke truly when He said, “You cannot serve both God and money.”

Where am I going with all of this? The basic point of this article is that God is doing something in the world that is based on love. When Jesus said, “When you see me you see the Father,” that becomes a central point for interpretation of all the Scriptures. I look at the entire Bible from the one viewpoint: “How does this line up with the way of love initiate by God through His Son, Jesus Christ?”