“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” – John 15:13
I am a combat veteran who fought in a war America lost: Vietnam. I came home by the grace of God and am living 50 years later. Very fortunately for America, her veterans, celebrated yesterday, won both World wars, as well as a host of others.
There was never a danger we would ever be consigned to speaking Vietnamese, but speaking German or Japanese were real possibilities. Were it not for America’s exceptionalism in World War II, we may have.
I am an aficionado of World War II history. I wish many more Americans of all ages were. The history is neither dry nor dusty. Not only is it riveting, but it is transformative in the lessons which can be gleaned. I am thankful for all we have been given by these valiant warriors, some who died and others who survived, even into their hundreds; as well as veterans of all the wars in which America has been engaged.
We also learn by the history and experience of war that its very nature is barely controlled chaos. Mistakes are the name of the game, overcome not only by sheer numbers and war materiel, but ultimately the sacrifice, determination, and courage of a whole generation of Americans.
They poured out their life’s blood, persevering gallantly in service in Africa, Sicily, Italy, France, Europe, Germany and a host of Pacific Islands so that tyranny might be crushed. And for a time, it has.
Crosses and grave markers dot those fought-over foreign lands. Many of the vets who survived have made their way back to those hallowed cemeteries to kneel near their buddies’ resting places. For those who died and for those who served we still celebrate Veterans Day in America. Some citizens may not celebrate, for they have the freedom not to, all because millions served and some of those gave the last full measure of devotion.
Jesus spoke these descriptive words two millennia ago about folk in every age. His words were spoken not to a specific time or event, but to a compelling act of love which transcends the ages. Those words speak clearly to these life-preserving souls who over the centuries willingly gave of themselves for others, even to the point of laying down their life for their friends.
Martyrs have given their lives for the greatest Friend of all, as do those who serve Him lovingly as slaves (Romans 1:1). Nor will such be forgotten, as the last book in God’s Word declares they will come to life and reign with the Lord for whom they died.
Many lovers of their neighbors through the centuries have given their life that those friends might live. Only our Mighty God knows who each is and has recorded their names in the Lamb’s Book of Life.
None of them served or died in obscurity, for God knows who they are as do all those populating the Courts of Heaven. Their true significance and the memorial of their love lies in the omniscient mind and heart of our eternal God.
Jesus’ death on a cross at Calvary solidifies this act of love of those who faithfully serve and gave even to the point of death. Jesus Himself freely poured out His life blood that we might live; otherwise the service and sacrifices of these veterans and all other followers of the Lamb will have come to naught. He does not forget! I hope you didn’t either, yesterday, today, or tomorrow.
“Take my love; my Lord, I pour at thy feet its treasure-store. Take my self and I will be ever, only, all for thee, ever, only, all for thee.”
(6th verse of Francis Havergal’s hymn, “Take My Life, And Let It Be,” 1874)
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