May 25, 2015

My father came home from Vietnam when I was in second grade. At the time, I didn’t really understand what war was about. The next day he took us to the circus in Houston. As we were standing in line to buy tickets, he suddenly said something to my mother and walked away. As I started to follow him, my mother called me back.

We bought our tickets, went into the circus and my father found us and sat down. Something was wrong but I did not know what it was.

When I was an adult, I asked him about that day. He told me he had just left a country where body bags were filled with the remains of our young men being transported back to America for burial. And there he was, two days later, standing in a line to buy tickets for the circus when he heard a group of young women talking about a party they were going to. At that moment, he realized that the sacrifice made by our young men and women, halfway around the world made no difference to these women talking about a party. He chose to walk away rather than confront them.

To my father, those young women took for granted the ultimate sacrifice that was made on their behalf. They did not care.

Today in celebration of Memorial Day, there will be barbeques, parties, picnics, swimming and a host of other holiday fun. It will be a great day. But I suspect many Americans will not think twice about the true reason for this day.

As I write this devotional, there is a young U.S. Marine on patrol in the desert. There is a seaman on an aircraft carrier out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. A soldier sits in a tank looking at the Korean DMZ. A young infantryman cleans his weapon as he wonders if he will have to go to war against ISIS. A pilot flies a jet into unfriendly airspace.

What all these men and women have in common is that they have chosen to put their lives on the line so that we can enjoy freedoms the world has never seen before. More than likely, some of those who are currently protecting us will not come home alive. Some that do will be forever changed by what they see and endure.

Jesus says, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:13)

As you celebrate today, remember that there are some who are grieving the loss of a loved one who never came home. Lift them up to God in prayer.

Prayer: Dear Gracious Heavenly God, I thank you for those brave enough to keep me and my loved ones safe and free. Help me to never take for granted the tremendous sacrifice they made. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

I pray your day is filled with joy and peace.
Tom Robbins