Today is a day of thankfulness and remembrance. While our Facebook feeds are all filled with statements of thankfulness and appreciation for our veterans and those who are currently serving (rightfully so), I wonder if we could take some time and learn from those who’ve served. Here is what I mean…it all starts with some of my heroes as a child and the memories that developed from them.
The year was 1991! I was 10 years old and the world was rapidly changing. When you are a 10-year-old boy, your 20 something and 30 something uncles who are big and strong and teach you cool stuff are the most amazing people in the world. I had the privilege of having 6 uncles that I got to spend time with growing up. Two of these uncles served in the United States Marine Corps, one served in the Army and one aunt served in the Army as well. I looked up to them, they were cool and strong! But remember, it’s 1991.
During that year both Tim and Mark (2 of my uncles) spent time serving our country in Operation Desert Storm. This fact changed my life! I went to school everyday and we had yellow ribbons all over the neighbor as I walked to school. We talked about our troops serving in the Persian Gulf at school. I came home and watched the news every single night, listening for news about the battles and information about our soldiers…my soldiers…my marines. To this day I don’t know how much of this they know, nor do they know how much this affected me. I can still remember the pale green living room with our old “tube” TV, watching CNN and the FOX every night.
On occasion we would hear from them. My grandmother, how she made it I still don’t understand, would keep us updated. I think she was simultaneously chain-smoking and chain praying! I love her! There were occasional letters, even fewer phone calls. Yes kids, we did not have SKYPE or FACETIME and email was even a rarely used tool at that time. There was however a time when I believe…(I mean it’s all hear say) that a defused land mine got sent home. That was hilarious to me! All of these communications meant that they were at least ok right then and we would keep praying.
And then, they came home! Mark and Tim came home! I’ll never forget this because they came home and they came to my school and they talked to my entire school about serving our country and discipline! I was the coolest kid around for one day – all because of them. They were our heroes, my heroes.
So when I read this verse in 2 Timothy, this is who I see: Mark and Tim. Paul writes:
“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
You see, I will likely not ever serve in the United States Marine Corps, nor in any branch of the military, however the discipline, resolve and focus that our heroes demonstrate to prepare for and engage in defending our country, that is the discipline that I need as a Christ-follower. So today, maybe one of the best ways we can honor our soldiers, our heroes, is to live disciplined, resolved and focused lives. Disciplined in our approach to work, family and country. Disciplined in our resolve to follow Christ if you are a Christ-follower. Resolve to be a help to others and to defend the defenseless. Resolve to grow in Christ if you are a Christ-follower. Focus on the things that really matter!
For me, these men and women earned the title hero, not by simply being in the Persian Gulf in 1991, they earned it by their character. Maybe as Christ-followers, we could learn from them and 2 Timothy 2.