Never Forgetting

I used to think that serving in the military was one of the hardest, most difficult, and challenging things that a person could ever do.  Before I came into the Army as a Chaplain, I had a deep respect for the men and women in uniform.  I appreciated the sacrifices made by my grandfathers and my father.  I saw them as better men than me, willing to do something I was too afraid to do and felt unfit  to do.

Now, after going to war twice and serving almost 7 years myself, I still hold to the same thoughts about veterans.  What’s different though, is that I see the greater importance of never forgetting.  What do I mean? 

Well, as I write this blog, I’m laying on my tiny bed in Afghanistan.  The men and women around me have no doubt, made sacrifices.  Most of them will not see their families for Thanksgiving or Christmas.  Having rockets explode near their sleeping quarters is a normal occurrence for them.  They can’t dine out at a nice restaurant on the weekend, go for a round of golf, or head to the beach during Christmas break with their kids.  They have literally given up part of themselves for the sake of others.  That must not be forgotten.

As a Christian, I definitely know the importance of not forgetting Christ’s sacrifice on the cross.  His obedience to God in death paid our sin debt.  He gave of himself so that I could live and have fellowship with the Father.  Why is it important to not forget that?  Well, first of all, because it’s the way to salvation.  Secondly, we are to be imitators of God.  We imitate to demonstrate his truth to a world lost in darkness.  Understanding sacrifice, helps us to understand the BIG DEAL that is Jesus’ death and resurrection.  It all points back to God.

It’s so easy to lose sight of sacrifice and take it for granted.  It’s easy to do this, even in a culture that prides itself in making heroes out of those who sacrifice.  You see, I was there as a civilian.  I made heroes out of those who sacrificed, but I didn’t fully take into account what their sacrifice meant for my life.  Because of what our military does, we have freedom to worship, freedom to eat at the restaurant of our choosing, freedom to play a round of golf, freedom to head to the beach, freedom to care for our family and choose whatever career path fits our passions.  Now, that’s all easy to say, but how much of that sacrifice truly registers in your mind?

What if I never understood what Christ’s sacrifice meant for me?  It’d be tragic.  What if I stood back and saw how amazing his sacrifice was, but I never took advantage of the gift that sacrifice brings me?  You see, when someone sacrifices something for you, it’s an open door to freedom for you.  It’s a path being paved for you, giving you an opportunity to live more abundantly.  You must never forget that!  If there’s one lesson to remember on this Veteran’s Day it’s “never forget”!