Joshua 1:9-11 “Have not I commanded thee?  Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed:  for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.  Then Joshua commanded the officers of the people, saying, pass through the host, and command the people, saying, Prepare you victuals; for within three days ye shall pass over this Jordan, to go in to possess the land, which the LORD your God giveth you to possess it.”

Psalm 23:4 “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.”

As described throughout the series on Valley Forge, the conditions for the American Continental Army were brutal during the winter of 1777-78.  That military force was under-equipped, under-fed, and under-clothed. Of the 12,000 soldiers that entered camp in December of 1777, over 2,000 died before they left in the spring of 1778.

Yet, the American Continental Army recognized the importance of these cold, harsh, long months. Through their patience and fortitude, they saw an opportunity to ready themselves for the battles to come.

Up to that point, the Americans had yet to see success against the British in force-on-force conflict.  Yes, the revolutionaries had seen some victories during small scale skirmishes during the war that had already lasted over 2 ½ years.  They had been successful at places like Concord, Dorchester Heights, Brooklyn, Trenton, and Princeton; however, they had not seen any signs of success that would indicate that they were headed for true victory.

Thus, during that long winter they trained.  They exercised.  They drilled. They were determined to create a disciplined, professional force that would be ready for whatever they would see in the battles to come.  They readied themselves for all contingencies instead of spending the time sulking about their miserable conditions.

Shortly after they left Valley Forge in 1778, they faced their first test in a force-on-force engagement called the Battle of Monmouth.  Their readiness was put to the test, and for the first time, it was the British who retreated from the battle.  The newly-ready American Continental Army prevailed, proving that they could face down a trained and professional British force.  It wasn’t a huge victory on its own, but it signaled hope for the entire revolutionary cause.

Two hundred and forty years later, American Christians must similarly see the value of using our time today to fully prepare for the battles to come.  We need to ready ourselves for all contingencies instead of spending time sulking about our miserable conditions.  We don’t know when and we don’t know where we will be employed, but our Lord needs us to be ready for all contingencies.  Though we may face hardships in our preparation, let us learn from the patience and fortitude of our forefathers to ready ourselves today.