I was born in November 1961. My father had been an MP and a soldier in the islands of the Pacific theater of World War 2. In all of the years that I had to talk with him, he never once told me anything about the war. He divorced my Mom in 1966 and I saw him very little for the rest of his life. The few times that we had to talk until his death in 2001 I never asked him about the war and he didn’t volunteer any information. Today is Memorial Day 2021, almost twenty years after his death.
Life and death are what we live with and it doesn’t matter if you have been involved in a war or have only read about it…the effects that it has on men and women who have been a part of it are permanent.
I was an EMT/Firefighter for five years and an EMT for ten. It has taken nearly thirty years for much of what I saw at suicides and car wrecks and at the scene of a fire where people young and old lost their lives or took them to get to the point that I can write some of it down. During the years of working as an EMT, I had to compartmentalize what I saw or had to handle during my shift so I could do my job. Sometimes, those compartments break open and the memories come back as nightmares or episodes of PTSD.
When I was in my teens, around ‘73 or ‘74, I was afraid that the war in Vietnam was going to last long enough that I would be drafted into it. It was a fear that I carried but I didn’t let anyone know about it. This is the first time I have written about it. I watched a very realistic movie today called “We were soldiers” and it was about the first engagement in the Vietnam war on November 14, 1964…a Sunday.
I am proud to be an American by birth but I am glad that the war didn’t last long enough to drag me and my schoolmates into it. Thank you, Lord, for your grace and mercy for that. I also pray that You will give Your comfort, strength, and grace to all of those who lost loved ones or friends in that war as well as all of the wars we have been involved in since then. I want to extend my thanks to all of the families and the survivors of these wars and thank you all for your service to our country.
25 For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: 26 And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: 27 Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me.
Job 19:25-27 KJV
So went Satan forth from the presence of the Lord , and smote Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot unto his crown. And he took him a potsherd to scrape himself withal; and he sat down among the ashes. Then said his wife unto him, Dost thou still retain thine integrity? curse God, and die. But he said unto her, Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh. What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips.
Job 2:7-10 KJV
This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.
2 Timothy 3:1-5 KJV
Many times I have been asked to pray in church, even when I was a pastor and the facts about our Savior just overwhelmed me and I would choke up. Some people may have thought I was weak or just a “cry-baby” by doing this although none of them would admit it. But when you consider the pain and suffering that Jesus had to go through on the day He was crucified to pay for all of our sins…it is overwhelming. God loves each of us who will give our hearts to Him and repent of our old ways and His love is so overpowering until we can’t understand it.
Why would God send His Son to go through all of the suffering and pain as a man in order to pay our penalty for our sins? It’s because of His love for us and nothing else. Every time He disciplined the Jewish people in the Old Testament He was trying to get them to turn to Him for their provision and for His love to be poured out on them as blessings. Sometimes they recognized this and sometimes they didn’t so for a while they would follow Him or the person that He sent to bring them back into a relationship with Him. But as soon as that person died, they would turn back to the idols that they had rather than continue to follow God’s leading.
God has always been close to our little world and He has protected us from many dangers that we never know about. Can I prove this? Not really…unless you look at the surface of our moon and see how many hundreds of asteroid impacts have ended on its surface rather than hitting Earth. I would guess that there have been a few extinction-level impacts that were intercepted by the moon instead of impacting and setting our world back a few thousand years or more.
The love that God has for us, each of us, is so magnificent and deep until we cannot possibly understand or even comprehend it and it was because of that love that He came in the guise of Jesus to pay our debt so we wouldn’t have to. Just consider His love for each of us because He even knows how many hairs are on your head and mine! He knows when a bird falls from the sky because in the Bible Jesus said that “not even a sparrow falls without the Father knowing it”. If He cares enough to watch a small bird and know when they die, don’t you think that each of us is worth a little more than a little bird?
When you or I consider the deep and abiding love that God has for each of us, how can you not shed a tear or get choked up a bit? Not one of us deserves His love but He thinks that we do and He does care for us more than we could imagine or hope for. Give your life to Jesus and ask Him to come into your life and help you clean out your heart because your future depends on this decision. He has already paid for your past mistakes (sins) and for any future ones too, all you have to do is repent of them and ask Him to come into your life and make it useful for His Kingdom.
We live each day as if nobody sees what we do or knows what we say, yet God knows all. He sees and hears every thought, word and deed that we do each and every day. We will be judged by those words and deeds even if we are saved through Jesus Christ because many times we do these things not considering that many of them are wrong in God’s eyes. If you are to live a life that shows others that you have given your heart and your life to Jesus and that you follow Him daily then your life must show it. If you don’t want to live a Christian life following Jesus and His teachings each day then don’t give your heart to Him. There are only two choices for your life…salvation through Jesus or life without Him. One you get to live here in accordance with His teachings so that others might see Him through your life. The other, life without Jesus, you can live without ever knowing Him or going to church or serving others but your life will end with your death.
A life approved by Jesus and through His Holy Spirit is a life that never ends. You will seek Him each day, living life here as a disciple and a follower of Him so that others will see the effect of Jesus Christ in your life. Hopefully they will see the peace that He gives you in times of trouble or the strength that you get through Him when you go through testing. The greatest gift that you have is the gift of eternity with Him because your life will go on after this body and this life is over. Our life will go on to be present with Him in Heaven and we will have an immortal body that will never know pain or disease ever again. The few years that we have here on Earth are the proving ground and the testing of our faith in Him and whether we will give our life to Him or not.
Does it matter if we live a life approved by Jesus Christ? Yes! If you would like your child or your children to know Him then you must live a life approved by Him. Children will follow in your footsteps whether you want them to or not and they will see the things that you do or say and learn from them whether you intended for them to or not. They will find out your past in one way or another so be careful to show them that you may have been a reprobate in the past but you have given your heart to Jesus and you have truly changed. You are no longer that person from your youth because you are a new creation in Jesus Christ!
Being a Christian in truth and in deed means living your faith everyday, not just on Sunday or on a particular holiday. It is not something that you can put on for weddings or funerals and on Sunday and then take it off when it isn’t convenient for you. When your heart is changed by Jesus, you are changed from the core of your being. Sometimes it takes a few years for the change to become visible to everyone because it is a process. Your heart is changed but the maturity comes from studying the Word of God and prayer to give you the strength each day to walk with Him. The Christian life is not an easy road to walk on. There will be trials and days when you do stumble and make mistakes. You will sin with your cuss words and thoughts but you will seek forgiveness and help in repenting from those mistakes. As I said, it takes time.
Many great men have lived and died in the world. Some of them lived on the side of evil like Hitler or Stalin and some were on the side of good like Martin Luther King and John F. Kennedy. Each of them meant to do what was right in their own eyes and sometimes they tried to do the best thing, whatever it was, for their people and their nation. In the end each of them died. Some died due to war or suicide and others because of other evil men and their intention to kill or assassinate them before they could do everything that they felt was needed at the time.
Even religious leaders in the past like Buddha or Muhammad died. The only One Who died and then rose from the grave was Jesus the Christ, the Son of God. He taught His disciples for a little over three years before the religious leaders of the day finally had enough and convinced Pilate to have Him crucified. His resurrection is the victory over death that we, as Christians, celebrate today. His grave or tomb is the only one that had no evidence for His body except for the burial cloths that were wrapped around Him prior to His burial.
Historians of His day recorded that He died on the cross and was buried according to Jewish law. But He didn’t stay in the tomb. Over the next forty days He was seen by many people, once by as many as five hundred, then just prior to Pentecost He was taken up from the Mount of Olives to sit at the right hand of God the Father. The angels who appeared to the disciples after His departure told them that “this same Jesus will return in like manner“. Our Savior and King is coming back to set up His kingdom on Earth. What a glorious day that will be!
Jesus also told His disciples that “I am going to prepare a place for you“. He is coming back to take the Church to the home that He has prepared for all of us who have given our hearts and our lives to Him. That is the hope that we have because He isn’t in the tomb. Our hope is in Him and His return for His Bride, the church. There is nothing left on God’s prophetic calendar until He calls us to be with Him except maybe one or two more people that will accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior. It could be more or it could be only one more person, only God knows the date and the hour that the call will go out for us to come up here.
In many ways today’s flag and Jesus have many things in common.
The flag of America has had blood shed for it and on it. In America during the Civil War and during the war of Independence years before. It was carried with our troops on the field of battle overseas in Europe and Asia and across the seas. On Navy ships and troop carriers and subs that old flag has taken its hits from fire and oil and gun shots and at home from crooked politicians and those who hate us because of what it stands for.
Our Savior shed His blood for all of our sins, to make men free from the slavery to sin. Our Savior went through some terrible trials before He was crucified. He was spit on and beaten by His own people and priests. They made a mockery of a trial to show that what they wanted was right and that He was a threat. They accused Him of crimes against the Roman state and cast a dark shadow over His fate. He allowed this to happen because He loved them and had He wanted to He could’ve wiped them out with a word but He didn’t because He came to do His Father’s will and not His own.
So, you see that America’s flag has a lot in common with our Savior. They have both been beaten, torn, ripped apart and yet they both were victorious in the different ordeals that they went through. Our flag has been worn down during the wars that she has fought in through the years and the country that she stands for isn’t the same as it was once before. But there is still pride in our country and in that flag that stands for freedom that has suffered so for it.
Jesus and our flag have been through a lot but He came out of the grave triumphant and whole to stand at the Father’s side and to intercede for us when we don’t do the things that we should. Our flag still stands for freedom and human rights although they are being worn away little by little today. Those of us who remember history, our actual history, look at that flag with pride. So, yes I am proud to be an American and I am proud to say that I am a Christian too. Will life ever return to normal here one day? I don’t know, but I will never give up my freedom willingly and I will not renounce my faith in Jesus Christ.
When you are tested, seek the Lord ask Him for strength. He will bless you and take you through your trials no matter how much it may hurt. You will come through this stronger in your faith and even more able to stand when another trial comes.