Call The Marines!

Perhaps a whole new book is needed to address all of the lessons that have been learned from various mentors and teachers in my life.  There are significant lessons that I have learned from my mother that originally seemed appropriate to include in Lessons from my Father because mom and dad always worked together as a team and therefore the lessons are from the Team.  However, I think a separate category is in order for things that are uniquely ‘my mom’!

I worked my way through college – odd jobs, newspaper loading docks, selling plasma (only once – it was too vampire-like for my taste).  One of my jobs was at an architects office.  Oh, it sounds plush, I know.  A budding architect?  An apprentice in the architectural world?  NO!  A lacky!  I ran errands, filled water coolers and made “blue-prints” – but it paid the school bill!

Back in the day‘, blueprints were made by taking specially treated paper and running them through an ammonia vapor bath and then through an ultraviolet light to turn the chemical treated paper “blue”.  Each page would have to be run through the ammonia vapor and if

Blueprint Machineyou had several sets of blueprints to run, it could mean several hours in the “blueprint room” with those ammonia vapors.  There were exhaust fans but this time they could not keep up with the hole in the transfer tube as ammonia fumes slowly filled the blueprint room!  Within 2 days, I started to develop a cough and severe congestion.  Later I would discover that I had ammonia burns to my lungs.  At that moment, all I knew was I was miserable and thought I was going to die.  I was 600 miles from home and had only a few days before the end of the school year.  I had one thought – I need to get home to mom.  She would know what to do!

The drive home seemed longer than normal but when I finally arrived, mom had already set an appointment to see the pulmonologist – she didn’t waste time with the family doc or physician referrals.  It was straight to the expert!  Was I surprised?  NO!  This is what mom does…she goes straight to the top.  Principals, Mayors, Governors – even presidents would know my mom on sight and snap to attention as if Queen Elizabeth had just arrived.  Oh, don’t kid yourself, my mom understands the “Chain of Command” but in her world the chain has only 2 links – The Boss…and her!  As I sit here and write, I can still hear her saying it, “I don’t fool around!  If you want something done, go straight to the top!”  I am convinced that if it wasn’t for the Secret Service, mom would be on a first name basis with every President since Eisenhower!

As kids, we would be afraid to come home from school and complain about some minor injustice or issue with a teacher because we knew that mom would NOT be content with a word of caution or kind note to the teacher.  It would be a full-on assault on the principal’s office with ‘humble teachers’ in tow!  She is always gracious – but a force to be reckoned with!  We have often teased mom about this trait and simply say, “Be careful – Mom is going to Call the Marines!”  (If you want a job done right – Call the Marines – The Few, The Proud…)  Even though my mom’s direct approach has offered us many punchlines, the truth is, when it mattered, we knew mom would get to the bottom of things and go straight to the top!

I think, however, mom may have it right!  There is song by Tamela Mann called Take It To Jesus.  The lyrics point us back to when Lazarus fell sick and Mary went to see Jesus for help (John 11:1-3).  She should have gone to the priests or the local rabbi.  No doubt there were doctors and healers who had helped the family in the past, but she went straight to Jesus.  Mary came with more than a desire for help; she came with an expectancy for help!  Mary approached Jesus with the full confidence that He could and would offer UNLIMITED aid.  Little did she know how unlimited His help would be!  Oh sure, I know! Abraham, Moses, the prophets; they all talked directly to God but the average, everyday-person had to go through a priest.  But Jesus changed that.  Mary’s direct approach to Jesus was more than the fact that He was flesh & blood and visible. So where does Mary’s boldness come from?  How is it that she felt she could ‘take it to Jesus’ immediately?  Hebrews has an answer:

For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:15-16

Mary had seen the full humanity of Jesus and knew He would understand.  To borrow a phrase…He’s been there, done that!  And she had a relationship that gave her this confidence.  Note that Hebrews does NOT say, “Come first to a priest or pastor and if they cannot help, then come to Jesus.”  We are to come BOLDLY to the throne.  Direct access is not offered – it is expected!  Take it to Jesus!!!  But did you see the scope of our access?  We can come for both Mercy AND Grace!  That means we should come directly to our Father when we need help AND when we screw up!

Even Jesus offers a template for our pleas and petitions that assumes direct access to the Father – “When you pray, say, ‘Our Father, which is Heaven..” (Matthew 6:9-11).  We are to go straight to the Top.  So the question is:  If God expects us to come to Him first to “ASK, so it can be given to us”, why do we try so hard to solve and fix our problems without Him?  I think there are at least 2 possible reasons:

  • Pride – I  can figure it out myself and I can do it faster than God can/will!  This is our pride-on-parade and the end result is always prolonged pain.
  • Ignorance – I don’t know if God is really capable.  After all, I really don’t know Him well enough to trust that He would or could help me in my unique situation.

I am guilty of both!  But I believe that the more I surrender my pride and the more I develop my relationship with Christ, the easier it will be to go straight to the Top and not mess around with counterfeits and substitutes – like my own wisdom and intellect.Mom2

Little has changed over the years with my mom.  She doesn’t fool around!  She goes to the source and finds answers and solutions.  I can still be guaranteed that she will take an issue straight to the boss; whether it means on a chair in the mayor’s office or on her knees in the Throne Room of her Father.

Thank you , mom!  Lesson learned – and striving to live!!!


  • How hard is it for you to take your struggles straight to God?
  • What are some excuses that you use to try to handle life on your own?
  • Share your thoughts in the comment section for other to read and grow.

-Michael G

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One thought on “Call The Marines!

  1. I must say, I was shocked to see this story. I am honored to be remembered along side of the Marines. But most of all to be able to go to the Top for my family when it is needed. The highest person I know these days is My God. I am sure there will be other times before I leave this world that will require me to help my family. Until that time comes, I look to Jesus the author and finisher of my faith and please family take it easy on your ole Mom. Love you all, MOM

    PS Thanks S.N.

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