Thank you

27 05 2013

Memorial Day is a day we set aside to honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice in the service of our country.  This year Memorial Day falls on the three year anniversary of when this day became personal. On May 27, 2010 my battalion experienced our first loss.

I will always remember that night.  I went out and God and I had to talk.  I had been praying for what I thought was a pretty valid request.  I did not want to lose anyone.  God was gracious with me.  He let me vent.  He let me tell him this was unfair.  I knew I didn’t understand but I also knew I trusted God (as much as any of us can).

The cross stood out boldly.  God had personally faced the unfairness of this world.  God had faced death. During my season in Afghanistan I went from simply loving God to respecting God.

As a battalion we had to move forward.  We still had a mission to accomplish.  We would lose others.  I was honored to serve as their Chaplain.  I was thankful for a God with the depth to deal with the realities of war and a hope bigger than our circumstances.

So for this Memorial Day I want to say thank you.

First, thank you God.  Thank you for the peace you give.  Thank you for the comfort you provide those who grieve.  Thank you for your understanding and your grace.  Thank you that you are God who “gets it.”  We can come to you with the realities of this life and you walk with us.  Thank you for your church and your people who are faithful in prayer and are your ambassadors to those who are hurting.

This leads to my second thank you.  It is to you.  Thank you.  I have always felt supported.  I can tell you while I was in Afghanistan I could tangibly feel the prayer support.  I have been thanked countless times for my service.  It is humbling.  It will continue to be an honor and a joy to come along side young men and women serving our country.  I will continue to be grateful for your support and encouragement.

I will end with what Jesus said when he instituted the communion meal.  Jesus said, “I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.” (Matthew 26:29)  While we honor those who died in the service of our country, let us never forget there is a day we look forward to.  One day Jesus will return and on that day there will be an end to war and suffering.  There will be no more deployments.  He will lift his cup and I will be able to say “thank you” face to face.





It is a wonderful life

21 12 2011

It looks like my wife will do it again. She will go through another Christmas season without seeing “It’s a Wonderful Life.” It is the classic movie where James Stewart plays George Bailey a man who feels his life has been a huge failure. An angel, Clarence who is trying to earn his wings, is assigned to help George realize just how important his life is. He does it by showing George what the world would look like if he had never been born. It is a great movie that captures all of the big and little ways a person’s life impacts the world around them. I found out in my first year of marriage that my wife had never seen the whole movie. Each year I say this year she has to watch it but somehow she always gets out of it.

In a few days we will be celebrating a very special birth. I began reflecting on the movie and I inserted Jesus in the place of George Bailey. What if Jesus had never been born? What would the world look like?

There are so many small ways Jesus has impacted my world. He showed me what true compassion looks like. It was amazing how he reached out to those others rejected. Outcasts felt accepted for the first time in years when they were around him. Jesus also taught me how to pick my battles. Jesus did not hesitate to stand up and call people out that were abusing their position or corrupting people around them. He showed me that it is okay to be upset by injustice. He demonstrated true power and influence does not come from a title or position but from character and heart. He showed the power of submission. He lived out the importance of facing the truth about situations even if they were hard. Those are just some of the small ways.

The big ways Jesus has impacted my world are even more amazing. I will share two. First, he demonstrated what sacrificial love really looks like. He was willing to go the distance and face death for us because he loved us that much. Mixed with that love is the second, grace. Grace is this incredibly special gift. It means I am loved not because of what I do but because of who I am. God does not love me because I am a Chaplain or I am an amazing husband and father but simply because I am special to him. Throughout my life I have needed grace and it has been freely given. All I can offer back is a thank you knowing God can see my heart and know just how grateful I am.

Sunday we will celebrate the birth of Jesus. It will be an opportunity to remember God loved us so much he gave us his son. I have a personal story of how Jesus has impacted my life. I hope you do as well. If not find someone you trust who does and ask them the question, what if Jesus had never been born? I encourage each of us to reflect on just how profound an impact Jesus has had on our lives.

You can also look at the impact Jesus has had on our community and world. Many charities will be serving because Jesus served. There will be outcasts who will feel accepted for the first time in years because churches will open their doors. Injustice will be called out as people with character and heart take a stand. More importantly maybe we will show each other love and give each other grace as a special gift this Christmas.

I guess I can give my wife grace again this year and maybe next year we will see the movie. I already have a wonderful life. Thank you Jesus and Happy Birthday.