It was the day after my birthday and I found myself starting the day off angry! Angry and frustrated! Disappointments in life had left me dissing the very atmosphere surrounding me! My attitude was creating a toxic environment that only those wearing a hazmat suit could survive in.
Why does someone I love so dearly have to get leukemia? Why did my Aunt find out her body was full of cancer only weeks after my mama died? …both events a hard reality. Why did my friend die suddenly of a brain aneurysm only months after she got to meet her first grandbaby? Why do relationships get so complicated and emotional? Why do my kids and grands and friends I love so dearly have to live so far away? Why am I having such a pity party!!?? And why is there always broken glass on the sidewalk where I walk? Ughhh…
In frustration, I asked God, “Where do You want me to walk today?” You see, every day I try to walk it out with Jesus wherever I am. I’ve found greenways, walkways, sidewalks, gardens, and trails by rivers, lakes and streams. It’s been a great adventure and good for my soul …as well as my dress size 🙂
At times, God has given me the nudge to go walk in the garden or go up to the mountain trail but here’s what I’ve found–wherever He leads me …He always meets me there.
On this day I heard, “Veterans Memorial” so off I walked …downtown to the Huntsville Madison County Veterans Memorial …not sure what God wanted to share with me there but trusting He was directing my steps.
As I approached the Memorial, the mile and a half walk had begun to unwind the tension so the words could be seen and heard more clearly. What did the lives of these soldiers have to teach me today?
The Holy Spirit began to speak almost immediately through words engraved in stone. Turns out, God is still writing on the walls and giving messages written in stone all around us if we’ll take the time to really look.
“I will never accept defeat.” * The enemy of my soul wanted nothing more than to defeat me that day …to get me all wrapped up in the disappointments of life and the things that never seem to fully resolve. Does life here on earth ever fully resolve or is it more like a symphony continuing to be written … ever seeking that last and final chord that can only be played on heaven’s shore?
Raised letters in black on solid rock of concrete blazing out this truth …
It was as if the stones were crying out. It will take COURAGE …SACRIFICE …DUTY * to walk this path God has marked out for me …for you. This is a call I must accept as well as any good soldier who passionately serves his homeland at the risk of losing his or her life.
However, my true homeland is not of this world. My citizenship is in heaven. Will I step up and take my vow to face the days to come with courage in the face of uncertainty …especially after our recent election? Will I continue to make the sacrifice necessary so others can enjoy freedom in Christ? Can I sacrifice my own comfort so others can sit comfortably at the table? Will I accept my duty as a follower of Jesus Christ to “act justly, love mercy, walk humbly with my God?” Micah 6:8 (NIV)
And then these words …
And this is where the tears began to fall like the waterfalls at the memorial. It was as if the pores of my soul were leaking out of the deepest emotional places of my heart. You can often tell what really matters to you by what makes you cry.
“I will never leave a fallen comrade.”* There are so many wounded in this world …even right in our own churches. Many feel left on the side of the road, bleeding out with no one willing to take the time or to risk what others may think long enough to press into the wound and stop the flow that leaves one lifeless. Many have felt left all alone in their places of ministry or their mess of life and wonder where their brothers and sisters have gone. They’ve endured shame and hardship and persecution only to find the enemy was sometimes within their own ranks.
I couldn’t stop crying. I couldn’t stop looking at this one monument…these two friends–fellow soldiers–determined to “never leave a fallen comrade” behind. And don’t we all just want to know that someone will pick us up when we fall? Don’t we all just want to know we won’t be abandoned on the battlefield? Don’t we all just want to know that someone will identify us as family and carry us safely home?
And yet, my eyes scanned more of the story engraved at the memorial.
With each battle, there were casualties. There seems to be so many casualties in this war! And now there were numbers engraved in stone …so many numbers …each representing a living soul…a once-breathing human being.
These monuments. These words etched in stone to help us remember so those who lost their lives never get lost in the pile of numbers alone. We need to mourn the losses…remember the fallen who couldn’t get back up again in this thing we call life on earth.
My perspective began to shift. I thought about my own losses and suffering and was forced to look at the suffering of others. In my own longing for freedom from suffering, the call was put before me to take courage …to live sacrificially …to accept the call of duty for my King, Jesus Christ.
And didn’t Peter remind us …
Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.
And with other followers of Jesus Christ who are carrying the message of His grace and love, I will accept the call as the soldiers of our country do …to be ready to give an answer for the hope that is within me …to put on the “belt of truth,” the “breastplate of righteousness,” my “feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.” I’ll take up the “shield of faith,” and put on the “helmet of salvation” and grab “the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God” and I’ll pray! Pray like my life and your’s depends on it! …“in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.” (Ephesians 6:10-20-NIV) And may the Spirit of God flow from us like a river just like Jesus intended when He said …
“Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.”
And I found the words of Levi Lusko in his book, Through the Eyes of a Lion, very true… “God’s whisper was amplified in the deafening roar of death and loss”…and I walked home a little different from when I started out.
And to those who have served and those who still serve our country for our freedom, I thank you from the bottom of my heart! Your sacrifice still speaks today …