Mississippi News

Lynn Jones: Genuine religion should last

By Lynn Jones

On a training exercise, an army officer told a young private to take his position in a foxhole. The young private said to the officer, “Sir, where is my foxhole?” The officer said, “You’re standing on it. Just throw out the dirt.”

One of the largest rewards I ever received was for help I rendered in the digging of a foxhole. It was in 1956, and Operation Sagebrush came to our farm in west central Louisiana. This massive army maneuver involved thousands of troops in our part of the state. 

Late one afternoon the troops invaded our farm. They camped under the trees in our lane and pitched tents all over our fields. Our parents were a little nervous about it, but to my brothers and me, it was an exciting time. We inspected jeeps and visited with some of the soldiers.

One of the things that the soldiers had to do was dig foxholes with their little short-handled shovels that they carried with them. That evening I was standing watching one of them at work when he said to me, “Say, do you have a long-handled shovel around here that I could use?” I went to our tool shed and got him a big shovel. He finished his foxhole in nothing flat and gave the shovel back to me. Then he sorted through his stuff and tossed me one large “O Henry” candy bar. I hid in the barn from my two hungry brothers until I had finished eating the candy bar. It was a wonderful reward for the small service of rendering assistance to a soldier digging his foxhole.

Foxholes have profound effects upon soldiers. In fact, they sometimes have given rise to a certain type of religion. It is called, “foxhole religion.” Foxhole religion is the kind that you get in a crisis, but that soon dissipates when the crisis is over. It is closely related to “jailhouse religion” and “hospital religion.” 

This kind of religion is similar to, but very distinct from, the real thing. Genuine religion is characterized by commitment. Commitment is the quality that compels you to carry out a resolution long after the mood in which it was made has left you.

A wave of hog cholera once raged through a country district. When one old farmer was asked how the epidemic was in his area, he said, “It appears to me that them that gets it and linger for a few days have a lot better chance of making it than them that gets it and die right off.”

And it appears to me that those who get religion and stick with it, have a lot better chance of making it than those who get it and drop out right away. 

How long do you stick with it? What kind of religion do you have? 

Lynn Jones is a retired pastor who lives in Oxford. He does supply preaching for churches in his area and often serves as an interim pastor. Jones is also an author, has written two books and writes a weekly newspaper column. He may be contacted at: kljones45@yahoo.com

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