Saturday, May 28, 2011

Memorial Day

Happy Memorial Day!

Sometimes in our busy lives of going here and there, working hard or doing
school work, we get caught up in our own little worlds. We think of ourselves
and sometimes forget others. I was thinking the other day when I went to a
restaurant with my dad. I saw all the different people there bustling about,
eating their food, talking to each other and I thought, every one of these
people has a soul. Some may believe in God, and some may not. They only have
a window of time to make their life-changing decision: To follow Christ, or
not to.
The ceiling fan began to gain speed and a shiver went down my
spine. If some of them have never heard about Christ or never will… and
die...then I could remember myself.. sitting here, and not saying a word.
Would it be my fault?
It’s a pretty powerful thing to think about isn’t it?
I mean, even people you pass by on the street you don’t know if they’ve ever
heard about God you don’t know of they are saved or if they ever will be
saved and you just pass right by them.

I think a lot of times we do the same thing with our soldiers.
How many times have you ever caught yourself thinking about the men and
women that risk their own lives for the lives of others and our freedom? I
can honestly say that I really don’t think about them very often. We make up
excuses. “They’re far away” or “I don’t have enough time” or even, “since I
don’t have any friends or family members that are fighting I don’t have to
worry about it.” Another question: How many times do you actually pray for
soldiers? Really think about that. Personally, before I began thinking about
it, I could have probably not remembered the last time I prayed for our
soldiers. When have you supported a soldier? How many soldiers do you think
are actually saved? How many people are actually evangelizing to soldiers?
How many soldiers are going to die – unsaved without anyone who has ever
cared enough to talk to them about God? They give us their lives. Can we not
share the love of Christ with them and by doing so give them their lives
back, their second lives in Christ? Or are we just going to sit back and
watch, while we continue with our own lives, our own cares that are useless
eternally. Watch them die – for us and our freedom, and face their eternal
destinies – without God.

So now I challenge you. Take a few minutes out of your busy day
to actually write a soldier.* Share with him what is happening in the
country that he left to protect us, share with him the love of Christ and
thank him for sacrificing himself for his country.

If you are a soldier and you are reading this, I want to
personally thank you for putting your life online and sacrificing your
safety and even possibly your life for ours. Also, I want to say thank you to all the families of the soldiers who have died in the defense of our beautiful country. We are forever grateful.

Happy Memorial Day everyone! Never forget our soldiers who are fighting for our peace and our freedom.

In Christ,






*Write a soldier!

http://letterstosoldiers.org/write-letter

If you do write a soldier after reading this post please comment about it and let us know! We'd love for you to join us! How many letters can we send out to show that we care?


The video "Remember me" is truly a powerful eye-opener reminding us that we need to remember our soldiers. You can watch it below. It's so sad and beautiful at the same time.

*as a side note, it may be helpful to scroll down to the bottom of the page and pause the blog music. :)






Dear Readers,

I remember very well the day that my father came rushing home from the Grand Rapids Baptist Seminary and told my mother that there had been a terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. I was too young to understand exactly what had happened, but I knew it was something bad because my mother was crying and she usually doesn’t do that in front of us unless something terribly sad or bad has happened. I went over to my Dad and asked him what the matter was. He said, “There’s been an attack on the World Trade Center,” looking off into the distance and not really paying much attention to me.

“What’s a terrorist?” I asked.

He came back to earth suddenly. “Terrorists are bad people who want to keep government control by making people afraid and hurting them,” he said in words that my six year old mind could understand.

“And what did the terrorists do?” I asked.

“They crashed an air plane into the World Trade Center. They were the tallest towers in the world, Piper, and thousands of people worked there. The towers exploded and many people died. All over America, people are in shock right now. They lost many of their friends and relatives.”

I was appalled and sat down hard on the floor. Dad caught my arm and pulled me back up. “Why would anyone do that?” I asked.

Dad is usually so strong, but I saw tears in his eyes as he said, “Because of sin. People that don’t know Jesus have nothing to live for, so they try to get attention in the wrong ways. There are lots of bad people in the world. These terrorists, these bad people, the wanted to take away our freedom. It’s because we are the freest country in the whole world.” He removed his glasses and put a hand over his eyes. “You’re privileged to be growing up here, Piper.” He set his glasses down on his blue-jeaned knee before drawing me to him. “Listen, Piper. Because Jesus loves you and He lives in your heart, you have all the freedom you are ever going to need. Even if these terrorists invade our country and take away our freedom, you will always be free in Jesus.” He gave me a hug.

Later that week, Mom and Dad were talking in the kitchen about President Bush sending the troops into Iraq to find the people that had planned the attack. They kept using the word ‘soldier.’ I didn’t know what that meant until Daddy explained it to me. If we hadn’t been in such terrible shock and tough circumstances, you would have laughed out loud at the conversation that went between me and my father-- something like this:

“Daddy, what does that mean?”

“What does what mean?”

“That word. You keep using it. Sol-jer?”

“Oh. Soldier. You really don’t know what a soldier is?”

“No.”

“Well, you know how when we are in Meijers sometimes we see men in camouflage--”

“What’s that?”

“Camouflage.” I tried the word on for size as Dad went on.

“Well, anyway, you know how we see men wearing camouflage walking around in Meijers sometimes when we’re there? They are soldiers. Soldiers are people who go to war for us. They fight the terrorists who want to take away our freedom.” I nodded, remembering the meaning of the word Freedom. Dad and I had discussed this in school just weeks before. “They keep our country safe from bad people like the terrorists. They keep America safe so we can say what we want to, go wherever we want, and not be persecuted because of our religion...”

“Those are some pretty big words. Per-suh-cuted? Religion? What do they mean?”

Dad looked red faced. “Forget it. But you know what a soldier is now, right?”

I nodded.

“And because they pay the price of freedom, do you know what we do? Whenever we see a soldier, we go up and thank him for his service. We thank him for fighting the bad people so we don’t have to. Because he’s willing to give his life for us.”

I nodded and broke into a big smile.

A few months after this, in about mid-March, Dad, Mom, my sister Chaia and I were finishing up our shopping in Meijers when I spotted a soldier. He was wearing that ‘camouflage’ pattern that Daddy had told me about. “Daddy, look!” I said, pulling on his sleeve. “There’s a soldier! Should we go say thank you?”

“That’s right,” Dad said. He started pushing the cart that way.

As we got closer, I could see that the soldier didn’t look very happy. His shoulders were bent as though he were carrying a heavy weight on them, and his boots were wet and slushy from the snow outside. As I walked up to him, I was a little scared, but Dad just gave me a nudge and said, “Say, ‘Thank you for your service, sir.”

I went over to the man. He looked so much taller than he had when I was looking at him from across the room. I craned my head back for a better look at his face, and, smiling as big as I could, revealing a missing tooth, said, “Thank you for your service, sir!” just like Dad had told me to.

Dad chose the moment to come up and give his thanks as well. “We really do want to thank you, sir, for your service to our country. We value your protection with all of this crazy stuff going on right now.”

“Thank you,” the man said in a raspy voice. Then, to my astonishment, he got down on his knees in front of me, regardless of the dirty store floor, and held out his arms. I didn’t know what to do, so I hugged him back. His arms closed around me as though they were made of iron. He buried his head in my shoulder and started to sob. I couldn’t see his tears, but I could feel his shoulders shaking. Mom and Dad looked at each other in distress, wondering what they should do. Finally my parents stepped behind the man. Dad started patting his back firmly and Mom rubbed his shoulder for a little bit, saying, “It’s OK, you’re going to be all right,” with tears running down her own face.

Finally the soldier looked at me through his tears and smiled. I smiled back. “I’ve been through a lot. You just gave me a present, do you know that? Something that meant a lot to me.” He briefly touched my nose with a finger and then stood up. “Thank you.”

A few years later, in 2005, one beautiful August morning, it was a bit of a surprise to see a soldier walking alone down the same block as my Aunt Jenny and I. He had that same dejected, tired, sad look on his face as the soldier in the Meijers when I was much younger. Instantly the memory flooded back.

I told my aunt what I was going to do and caught up with the man. He turned in surprise as he saw me. I held out my hand and said quickly, “Sir, my name is Piper Amanda. I didn’t mean to intrude upon your thoughts, but I wanted to say thank you for serving our country.”

He started blinking really fast, and I saw the tears in his grey eyes. He caught my hand and held it fast. “Young lady,” he said, “Did you know, this is the first time that anyone has ever bothered to thank me for serving my country. This means a lot.” A brilliant smile lit up his whole face and he said, “You just brightened my day! I hope you have a good one!” and started walking down the street again. I watched him go, his shoulders back and a spring in his step.

Memorial Day is a great time to reunite with friends and family, go camping, hang out at the beach, or have the first cookout of the summer. In the noise of the holiday we forget to have a moment of silence for those men who we have lost. We always remember this weekend and have a huge celebration, but many times we forget the reason why we are celebrating. We are celebrating our freedom. We are thanking those who have lived and died so we could have this. We are grateful to those who have served our country and have paid the ultimate sacrifice.

It has been said that at least once in their lifetime, U.S. soldiers sign a blank check to the United States of America for the amount of ‘One soldier, up to and including his life.”

Wow.

So do me a favor and thank the next soldier you see. They deserve it.

And let’s also continue to lift them up in prayer. Let’s thank God for the gift of freedom that he has bestowed upon us as a nation, and also to us as individuals who are in Christ. Let’s thank God for the soldiers who are willing to sacrifice their lives for us. Let’s pray that God would raise them up and continue to provide them with courage and strength as they fight our battles. Thank you.

Sincerely,

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