When evening came, his disciples went down to the lake, where they got into a boat and set off across the lake for Capernaum. By now it was dark, and Jesus had not yet joined them. A strong wind was blowing and the waters grew rough. When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus approaching the boat, walking on the water; and they were frightened. But he said to them, “It is I; don’t be afraid.” Then they were willing to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the shore where they were heading.
The next day the crowd that had stayed on the opposite shore of the lake realized that only one boat had been there, and that Jesus had not entered it with his disciples, but that they had gone away alone. Then some boats from Tiberias landed near the place where the people had eaten the bread after the Lord had given thanks. Once the crowd realized that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they got into the boats and went to Capernaum in search of Jesus.
- John 6:16-24
I had a really good post pop into my head a few days ago. At least I thought it was good, but I forgot it by the time I fully developed the idea in my mind. What happened instead led me to think about my jeep drivers in the Army, fond memories.
But no one wants to hear old war stories, but then, I turned right at a traffic light and our new all wheel drive vehicle swerved, hydroplaning on the wet pavement. I had slid on ice a little with our hew SUV, but this was something new, something I would have to learn to avoid in the future.
That is when the old memories came back. I will refer to my jeep drivers by their nicknames, Big Butt and Mash Truck. Each were Specialist 4 in rank, at least when they drove for me.
The first was Big Butt. He was a very careful driver. He had an accident once before I met him, and he was almost over-cautious, trying to ensure he never did that again. But then, I felt safe with Big Butt driving. He and I went on a secret mission together, along with a sergeant who was a Canadian in the US Army. We were a strange crew,
Why was he called Big Butt? His last name had “but” in it and he was six and a half feet tall. He looked like a football player with all the necessary shoulder pads and such, but Big Butt was all muscle. He just looked like he wore pads. One day, the platoon was playing a manly game. They took a three-pound sledgehammer, holding it with one arm straight ahead, hammer pointing straight up, and then by only bending the wrist, they touched their nose with the hammer head. I could do it, but I was shaky. Big Butt pulled out a ten-pound railroad maul to do the same thing without flinching. No one messed with Big Butt.
Big Butt came up for his annual efficiency report. I was not required to add anything, for those less than E5 in rank, but I wrote a glowing letter for his file. My platoon sergeant asked if I really wanted to do that. Big Butt might make sergeant without the letter, but the letter would move him higher on the promotion list. If he would get promoted, he would leave our platoon, because drivers who were sergeants were needed elsewhere. I did not waver. Whatever was best for Big Butt, I was all for it. He pinned on the sergeant stripes one morning and then came by that afternoon to say good-bye. I never saw him again.
He was replaced by Mash Truck, kinda rhymed with his name. He once flew the jeep with me in it over a tank ditch that had not been on that road that morning. We survived, but a sergeant in the backseat was now in the front seat, mostly on top of me, and upside down.
But this is how these stories connect to the theme. Once we got back in our appropriate seats and realized we were still alive and that the jeep still worked, we went around a couple of bends in the road to find a mud puddle that was about one hundred feet long, about 30 meters. I suggested that we could take a detour, but Mash Truck said that he could make it, as long as we kept moving. The sergeant in the back seat started moaning. Or maybe he was making “siren noises,” but Mash Truck achieved a high rate of speed and we splashed our way through a deep mud puddle and onto the dry ground at the far side. We had not walked on water; we drove on water, probably hydroplaning the whole way. But Mash Truck was correct. We kept moving and did not sink. There was evidence that other vehicles had tried and failed.
While Big Butt was over cautious, Mash Truck never backed down to any challenge. And I loved them both.
But Mash Truck took his idea of walking on water nearly too far. Our military company was given a marvelous construction project. It was top secret, but I won’t spill any beans by saying a swamp with a road through it was part of the project. I was the construction officer for all company projects, staying back at headquarters, managing my own projects as well as providing the big project with people and equipment, and the former construction officer was the field project manager with about 200 soldiers working for him, a combination of three companies working under his leadership. As for the swamp, he had tried pushing gravel into the swamp using a bulldozer to stabilize the road, but the rock simply sunk and disappeared. They brought in a platoon of nothing but earthmovers, each carrying 40 tons of rock, capable of slowly dumping the rock from a clamshell opening under the bucket. Only problem was that when the first earthmover drove into the swamp, it sunk, and it was a miracle that they saved both the driver and the earthmover. Since I did not need Mash Truck, he was acting as the other lieutenant’s driver. He said that he had driven on water before and he could do it again, as long as the police did not mind him speeding in the construction site. And, so he got a little lesson on how to drive one of these behemoths, the size of a semi-truck, and then he drove the thing into the swamp at what might be called “ludicrous” speed, dumping the rock as he crossed the swamp. He did not slow down until he knew he was on solid ground on the other side. He hopped out of the cab to take a bow and then drove to the rock crusher for another load. I should add here that having done so, Mash Truck was “worshipped” by the other drivers, but aside from elevating him to god-like status, they followed suit and the road was built. Mash Truck used the earthmover to totally destroy an Abrams tank, but that’s another story.
I relied upon and loved both men. And you could learn a lot from both. I would gravitate toward the Big Butt approach. My mindset fit with the safe approach, but without ever losing the idea that the work must get done.
The Mash Truck approach was to lower one’s head and push the peddle to the floor. We must listen to that voice on occasion. Being a true believer of Christ in these troubled times means that it is never completely safe. If we sit back and wait, we may never move forward. If we detour, we might lose too much time, and time is not on our side. But if we speed straight ahead and trust God, the one we are following into the swamp, we might just walk on water. Either that, or simply hydroplane across to the other side.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.