Living in a military town and serving as pastor of a church in this city, Cheryl and I have the privilege of knowing hundreds of military families who serve our nation to keep us free. Grace Community Church is a better church because of the hundreds of these families who choose to worship, serve and grow with us.
One thing some soldiers often do is to leave behind a letter to his or her spouse and/or family in the event that something tragic should happen to them while deployed. They sign the seal of the envelope and ask that it not be opened unless the worst should occur. At times, they leave the letter with another family member and other times with a trusted friend. Some of the most sobering moments of my life have been receiving one of these signature-sealed envelopes from a solder leaving for war. Each time I felt honored and humble by being asked to hold such a letter, but it has always been a sobering reminder to me of the harsh realities of war.
Thankfully, I have never had to deliver one of these letters. I hope I never do. Usually when the soldier returns, he or she will request the letter back from me. At times, I’m asked to continue holding it due to the volatile nature of their career.
I’m also reminded, however, as Memorial Day is designed to do, that many families have had to endure the delivering of their own “letter” from a fallen soldier. Today I’m praying God comforts them with the memories of happy times together and with the pride of knowing and enjoying the freedom their loved one gave his or her life to protect.
In my experience, soldiers are brave men and women, with families and friends they love, but who choose sacrifice and service over personal pleasure because of a special calling to serve for the cause of freedom. These are men and women who love their country, respect what freedom brings to a nation, and are courageously willing to put their life on the line to protect it. Many of our Fort Campbell soldiers are deployed this year and Cheryl and I are praying for their continued safety and for the comfort of loving families waiting for their return.
Some of Cheryl and my best and lifetime friends have been military families. My father and brother are both veterans, along with many of my extended family. My pride, gratitude and thankfulness for their service to our country cannot be described in words. I still get goose bumps hearing the National Anthem or reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. Today, to our soldiers and their families, please accept Cheryl and my sincere appreciation for your service. We couldn’t do the ministry God has called us to do if you didn’t do what you were called to do. God bless you and keep you safe!
What do you think of when you think of our soldiers and their families?