Man of Arms, Man of Faith
But Dr. Moses Hoge, a contemporary of Jackson, declared, “To attempt to portray the life of Jackson while leaving out the religious element, would be like undertaking to describe Switzerland without making mention of the Alps.”
Jackson left the military after the Mexican War and entered a career in education at Virginia Military Institute. But he proved to be only a mediocre teacher. Perhaps his greatest deficiency in that career was that he knew only one way of teaching. If a student didn’t understand something, Jackson simply repeated his original explanation. He did not know to vary his teaching methods to suit the students’ individual learning styles. Consequently, his teaching was less than stellar, and he became the brunt of student jokes. His expertise was in military leadership.
But the real strength of Jackson’s life was his religious faith, which permeated every aspect of his life, including the military aspects. It was not something that he reserved only for Sunday worship services or tacked on only when he faced difficulties and dangers. He did not treat God and faith as a spare tire, reserved only for emergency use; it was an integral part of his daily life. His self-disciplined and consistent practice of daily Bible reading, meditation, and prayer was as much a part of his routine as was his disciplined study of the elements on the battlefield and of artillery.
Because Jackson’s faith was a normal and permanent part of every day and every action, he could trust God to keep and preserve and empower him for every action he was to undertake. And that faith gave him great confidence, not in himself or his own abilities but in God Himself. Consequently, he seemed fearless, even in the face of mortal dangers on the battlefield.
May God grant us the ability to express and live such faith in God.
Copyright (c) 2018, Dennis L. Peterson
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