Joshua Chamberlain

Joshua Chamberlain

Joshua Chamberlain

via TJC

“So that you would walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls you into His own Kingdom and glory” 1 Thessalonians 2:12

“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that your will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints” Ephesians 1:18

Called “The Lion of Little Round Top”, in 1893 the President, in the name of Congress  presented the Medal of Honor to Colonel Joshua Chamberlain for extraordinary heroism on 2 July 1863 for daring heroism and tenaticity in holding the position on Little Round Top against repeated assaults and carrying the advance position on the Great Round top. Those actions on 2 July 1863 would protect the left flank, and some say saved the union line at Gettysburg and tuned the outcome of the rest of the war.

Much has been written about Joshua Chamberlain, with many biographers digging deep into his many letters written home, with several authors seeming to discredit Joshua as a military leader. What is clear is that Joshua did not grow up anticipating a military career, go to a military academy, and have years of military experience. His adolescent dream was to be a foreign missionary, and he entered the seminary- and although licensed to preach never became an ordained minister. His fiance Fannie made it very clear that she had no intention of becoming a minister’s wife and told him, “My whole mind, character and temperament are entirely inappropriate for that position and I could never be useful in it”. She hoped he would instead become a teacher, and perhaps a doctor and he soon agreed that “I am more of a scholar than preacher”.  However, this turnabout in thinking and inability to discern life’s direction placed him in a quandary. He considered working in the goldfields of California and  postponing their wedding. But sticking to his obligation he soon accepted a position at Bowdoin college teaching natural theology.

A restless scholar and distrustful of his wife’s affections: Chamberlain was himself “never so more plagued by pains and sleeplessness”. He was soon partially relieved of some of his classes, and buried himself deeper into his academic work- while his attention turned to the “Strains of far-off bugles” as civil war unrest circulated in far off Maine.

Fast forward Lt Col Joshua Chamberlain of the Maine National Guard, soon writes following Antietam – “I do not find myself in need of much. I feel that it is a sacrifice for me to be here in one sense of the word, but I do not wish myself back by any means- I am remarkably close to contentment.” “Most likely I shall be hit somewhere at some time, but all my times are in His hands, and I cannot die without His appointing. I try to keep ever in view of all the possibilities that surround me and to be ready for all that I am called to”.  Growing in Chamberlain was the suspicion that he was a soldier by nature and that bivouacs and battlefields were his homes.

Today’s training – Who among us isn’t or hasn’t been challenged to know God’s calling on our lives? Chamberlain is certainly one of the more famous leaders of the civil war, and often identified as one of the most authentic Christian leaders in the union. This was a man that learned to take the unpleasant with the pleasant, share the hardships with his men sleeping on the hard earth, go days without bathing and discovered he could tolerate military life very well. For Joshua military life narrowed his world and it became much less complicated. He wrote that he “need not worry about his health, the unpredictable behavior of his wife, child rearing and relations with fellow academics” . While TJC certainly wants husbands to remain compassionate, Joshua grew to appreciate the simplicity of his new situation.  What complications in your life, what busyness, what relationships are inhibiting you from hearing God’s calling and then walking in a manner worthy of God’s calling on your life”?  What needs to be simplified so that God can grow in you?