That’s what we call men in our family who watch out for the weak, the fatherless, the destitute, the orphan and the widow—men born with Psalm 82:3-4 tattooed on their hearts.
For his 18th birthday I got my youngest son a set of military I.D tags welcoming him to manhood and initiating him into the order of the Sheepdog. The “dog tags” were engraved with Romans 8:28.
Since the day his older brother enlisted in the Army last year, Aaron has planned to follow in his footsteps—and my footsteps—serving our country as a soldier and a sheepdog.
But from the beginning, the odds seemed to be stacked against him. The first time he took the initial entry exam, he failed it. So he bought study guides and practice tests and took it again. And he failed it again. Undaunted, he waited the allotted time between tests and took the test once more, and once more he missed the mark by one point—one question.
I thought he would give up and move on to something that better fit his personality, but he drove on and took the test one final time—and passed!
Next, he took the physical—and he failed. The Army recruiter told me, “We don’t see this a lot, but your son has a weight problem. He doesn’t weigh enough to meet Army standards. He needs to put on at least 15 pounds.”
So I thought it was over. Aaron would move on to something else, perhaps something less “size” related. But he began to eat. And he drank countless protein shakes and ingested nauseating amounts of weight gain supplements and he ate and ate and ate, and after two more weigh-ins he still missed the mark—by one pound.
Finally, the recruiters gave him a body mass index test, measuring his muscle instead of his lack of body fat. He finally made weight!
He then went back to complete the rest of his physical and they told him he had scoliosis—a slight curvature of the spine.
“Son, maybe this is not what you were meant to do,” was my only consolation. “Dad, this is what I want to do. I’ve got to do this!”
So he went back for another physical and they poked, prodded and x-rayed his back and told him the scoliosis was not that bad. He could finally enlist.
They gave him an MOS of 11C, “Combat Engineer”, and told him when he would leave for basic training. All he had to do was come back, raise his right hand, and swear in.
So he told the exciting news to his entire family and updated all his social media statuses and celebrated with his friends and began to make life plans for his future in the US Army.
He began to walk and talk like a sheepdog.
The next day, he went to the swearing-in ceremony and the powers that be told him there was one…more…test… A psychological exam was mandatory for all new recruits before they join the Army.
Aaron called me later that day. “I can’t enlist. I failed the psychological exam…by one question.” His voice was hollow and dejected. I felt the thick disappointment through the phone.
I spoke with the recruiter, and the sergeant informed me that my son indeed failed the test by one question: “Given the choice, which would you rather do—rob a bank or stay home and get drunk?”
Being the son of a police officer, Aaron chose the latter over the former. “I wouldn’t do either, but I just thought, at least I wouldn’t be hurting anyone or breaking any laws staying home and getting drunk.” My son defended.
The recruiter explained that the correct answer was actually ”rob a bank” because that shows initiative and motivation, while “staying home and getting drunk” means you are a low achiever.
Really? This is the standard the US military uses to judge the competency of good men?
I picked up my son at the recruiter’s office and took him to lunch. He was devastated. “What do I do now dad?”
I reached across the table and pulled the dog tags from underneath his shirt. I stressed the words he needed most: Romans 8:28 “And we KNOW that ALL THINGS work together for GOOD for those who LOVE Him and are called according to His PURPOSE.”
“God has a plan, son. It’s a perfect plan—a plan far better than we could ever imagine or understand. He’s not only saving you from something. He’s saving you for something.”
And He was.
A month later Aaron applied and was interviewed by a company called Diversified Assessments. In the interview they asked him how much work experience he had in applicable skill field.
“About 16 years”, he impressively replied. And they were impressed. He was hired that same day.
Aaron now makes a decent salary doing something he had unknowingly been preparing for his entire life. He moved into his own apartment, pays his own bills and works 40-50 hours a week doing what he loves most. And he is extremely good at what he does.
What is his job? He is a full time caregiver for his adult brother with autism. He spends his days caring for, encouraging, hanging out with, and loving his best friend. He is living out Psalm 82:3-4.
I have never seen two brothers so close, so happy, and so satisfied with life. I can’t help but praise God for His brilliant plan every time I see the two of them out together laughing, loving and living hard.
God chose the man the Army rejected. Isn’t that biblically typical of Him?
Aaron called me recently with a sense of excitement in his voice, “Dad, I absolutely love this job! I could never imagine doing anything else. I think I was made for this!”
Indeed you were, son. Indeed you were.
Welcome to the order of the Sheepdog.
“And we KNOW that ALL THINGS work together for GOOD for those who love Him and are called according to His PURPOSE.”
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ruth stieff says
What a lovely story!
Kathy Bolduc says
Greg, this is an amazing story about an amazing young man. How proud our Father must be – and how proud you, Aaron’s earthly father, must be. I know that Aaron will continue to be richly blessed, as he lives out a blessing for others.
Laurie Wallin says
Wow. Your father-heart is so clear here. And the way God wove your boys’ stories together like that? Wow. It gives a whole different vision of what my own kids may be for each other later in life. Which is really welcome, since right now the vision is of them joining WWF based on the way they mess with each other!
Debbie Meyer Abbs says
This made me tear up! Thanks so much for sharing this amazing story!
Jared Buckley says
Greg, the perseverance of your son is amazing and a reflection of your inspired parenting. It is amazing how God works out all things in his plan and timing.
Also, I love to hear and see the strong bond of siblings. I am excited to see our kids young sibling bond blossom.
Way to raise up more “Sheepdogs.”
Donna Laloux says
This is a beautiful post! Thank you so much for sharing with us.