Gas! Gas! Gas! Or Jesus! Jesus! Jesus!
By Brian Barrier
“Gas, Gas, Gas”! For any of you that have served in the military, those may be very familiar words. For those of you that have not served, I will explain. My dreadful experience with those words first happened during basic training in the United States Army at Fort Jackson, South Carolina located in the town of Columbia. The year was 1990 and I had just graduated high school at the ripe old age of 18. I suppose it must have been in the upper 90’s that sweltering summer day in July when we were marched down to a small shack right after a big lunch which we scarfed down in less than 5 minutes.
As you have probably heard, everything in the military is completely structured and during the initial eight weeks called “basic training” everything is meant to be stressful, so you learn to execute all tasks while facing any and every situation, especially combat. We had completed the instructional training and practical application training on the importance of a gas mask. These masks are meant as complete protection from most chemical and biological agents that might be deployed against a soldier during combat. When any soldier knows or suspects there has been a gas attack, they are trained to immediately make a signal and yell out “gas, gas, gas”! Once they have learned the proper use and determined to be proficient in properly donning their gas mask, the next step is to go into the gas chamber and use the mask in a real-world environment. The goal is to ensure every soldier that they can have complete FAITH in their mask when it is needed.
In order to accomplish the last step of training, a group of soldiers are lined up inside a foggy and dark room filled with CS gas with their mask on. CS is an extremely powerful form of tear gas and once it touches your skin will cause a severe burning effect. If you breathe in the gas, you suddenly are not able to take another breath especially if it is ingested in concentrated amounts, like during this training. While your mask is on, you can breathe normally and carry on as usual. Then, one at a time, each soldier is required to remove their mask and then answer a series of questions which eventually causes them to inhale the CS gas. I can’t even begin to explain the terror that comes over you when suddenly you have no ability to breathe and fluids are pouring out of every part of your body. I don’t mean dripping, I mean POURING! Your eyes are watering, fluid flowing out of your nose and mouth and you are gripped with the fear of not being able to breathe. There is no doubt in anyone’s mind once they leave the gas chamber that the gas mask will save your life.
“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.” Ephesians 6:10-18 (NKJV)
You see, just as a soldier endures many months and even years of intense training in order to learn how to use each piece of equipment properly, we must learn to use the equipment God has left for us while we are here on earth. It isn’t easy and it does take work but the consequences of our actions or inactions are eternal! Let’s not call out “Gas, gas gas” but let’s call out to a lost and dying world, “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus”!
Brian Barrier is a life-long resident of Burke County, U.S. Army Veteran, a member of Pleasant Hill Baptist Church in Morganton and Publisher of the Blue Ridge Christian News.