Today is Memorial Day. It is a day we remember those who have fallen in service to our country. It is a day that we remember the sacrifices those men and women have made for our freedom. It is a day we honor them.
I have 3 family members and one *almost* family member in various branches of the military – my baby brother is in the Air Force, two of my cousins are in the Navy and another cousin’s boyfriend (of several years) is now at Boot Camp for the Army. Both of my grandpa’s were in the military. My paternal grandfather was in the Army and my maternal grandfather was in Oklahoma National Guard Thunderbird Division, then the Arizona National Guard and finally the Arizona Air National Guard. My father was not in the military, so I did not come directly from a military family. Both of my grandfathers were long retired by the time I was born, but I heard stories. From them and others in that generation of the sacrifices made. Now I am seeing second-hand the sacrifices my sister-in-law and cousin’s wife are making as their husbands are sent out. I also have several distant family members who have served in the military.
I am so proud and honored to have family who have served and are currently serving in the military. I am humbled by the men, and most recently women, who have given their life for the freedom I experience in this country every day. Through the blogging world, I now “know” many women who’s husbands are in the military. I can’t imagine the daily sacrifice this takes, but I am so thankful for both their husbands and them, who are a support at home.
Today is a day we post pictures of gravestones of fallen soldiers. Today is a day we post pictures of those in action and currently serving. Now please hear me…We should be thankful for their service. First of all, because I didn’t have to go and serve. I was not forced into the military like so many children in other countries who are not given the option. Second, because we do have freedoms in this country because of their service and sacrifices – both past and present.
But as I began to see these pictures that have flooded my Facebook feed all weekend, I was challenged. Challenged in that I too have been called to a life of service. I have been called to a life of sacrifice. I have been called to living my life – every second, every day, every moment of my life – for Jesus Christ.
While I am more thankful than words could ever adequately express for the men and women who fight for our country, I am infinitely more thankful for the sacrifice Jesus Christ made on the Cross more than 2,000 years ago.
On this holiday we are determined to show our patriotism and thankfulness for those who are serving. But as a Christian, am I doing the same for Christ? Am I sharing my love and devotion for Him on my news feed or am I only giving Him a portion of me. Am I being bold or am I sitting comfortable and hoping no one notices? Am I as passionate about sharing my faith in Him – the one who made the ultimate sacrifice – as I am for those who gave their own lives for our freedom?
These are the tough questions I asked myself.
And let me tell you…the answers were not pretty.
I am not saying we can’t or shouldn’t honor those who have served – please hear me! But I am saying our love and devotion to Jesus Christ needs to be MORE evident than the love we have for our country.
Take for instance the Memorial Day or Relay for Life races – and any other walks for diseases and awareness – people do in honor of someone. These are great activities and ways to honor those who have served or have fought Cancer or other diseases. When you register for these types of races, you typically get a runners number that you pin to your shirt. Sometimes you have space to write the name of who you are running in honor of or for.
In our Christian walk, we should put on the name of Christ – daily. We need to be running the race set before us for Him and to Him. Our life is to be in service to Him first. Our daily goal should be to know Him better. To share the saving grace and everlasting power of Jesus Christ with everyone we meet. This is our daily challenge. Not just a one-time race, but a life-long race.
1 Corinthians 9:24 says, “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it.” (ESV) While those 5K, 10K and marathons only have one winner, those who participate run their best so as to win. If they gave up half-way through the race, what was the point? The same goes for this race we call life. We must continue on and press toward the finish line every day with our entire being. It’s not one we can run half-way and call it good. It’s not one we can run at half-speed and still receive the prize.
The author of Hebrews challenges us to “run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.” (Heb 12:1b-3, ESV).
Who’s name are you running in honor of? Who are you running for? Are you running the race of life for someone else or are you running for Jesus Christ? That is our challenge.