Monday, May 25, 2015

Lessons From The Fallen

Join with me in suffering, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer.
~ 2 Timothy 2:3-4, NIV ~

This is how we’ve come to understand and experience love: Christ sacrificed his life for us. This is why we ought to live sacrificially for our fellow believers, and not just be out for ourselves.
~ 1 John 3:16, MSG ~

SUFFER - Now there's a word antithetical to today's culture!   In fact, we seem to live in the days of avoiding suffering at all costs.  From the disposable nature of marriage to the discarding of life through abortion, culture deems us a fool to lean into anything unpleasant that may deny us temporal happiness.

The lives we remember every Memorial Day expose the faultiness in that thinking.  The path our fallen heroes walked reveals what we truly esteem.

The FALLEN HERO is the one who is willing to be tested, run through thankless rigors, facing humiliation to have their resolve strengthened.

The FALLEN HERO endures the discomfort of less-than-optimal living conditions, separation from family, and deprivation of common modern conveniences.  He or she goes through hell to bring us a little bit of heaven here on earth.  
The FALLEN HERO is the one who follows the orders of the commanding officer, even though it puts him or her in harms way.  The big picture is in mind when a soldier like this deploys.  No sacrifice is too great to reach the end game.

The FALLEN HERO lays down their life for a purpose they love.  As so poignantly expressed in "America the Beautiful":

Oh beautiful for heroes proved
In liberating strife
Who more than self their country loved

And mercy more than life*

I can't help but shed tears of awe every Memorial Day, remembering those who held NOTHING BACK from the nation they loved.  We should all aspire to live life with such duty and dedicated passion.

Yet, I also find every Memorial Day that we parents walking this hard fought battle of chronic illness or disability possess so many characteristics similar to those who have fallen throughout the generations.  We may go into this wide-eyed and naive, but we are put to the test in short order.  We suffer greatly.  Humiliation is our constant, unwelcome companion.  We endure hospital stays, away from the rest of our family, in living conditions far from optimal.  Just a shower feels like a luxury some days.  Still, no sacrifice is too great as we lay down our lives for those we love.  We follow God's orders to press on, setting aside our own egos and plans to give sacrificial care and relentlessly advocate for our kids.

Yes, our hearts can relate to that of the soldier, because we are soldiers on a different battle field.  

At the same time, most of us will never, ever have to pay the ultimate price -- dying for that greater purpose.  Take time today to give thanks and remember those who died so that you could be free to advocate for your child, free to have access to great health care, free to receive public access and inclusion, and free to have your child partake of a range of services and supports, including a public education.  Someone lost their child, so you could offer the best life possible to yours.  

These are lessons worth remembering.  Reflect on them with me today.

PRAY:  Jesus, You showed us what true love is by laying down Your life for us.  Bless the families of those who have followed in Your footsteps.  Thank You for the sea of faithful citizens who gave everything, so we could live free.  Give us the fortitude to be as faithful to You as these soldiers were to our nation.
* "America the Beautiful"; 1895, lyrics by Katharine Lee Bates, music by Samuel A Ward; Public Domain

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