Memorial Day

By Jeff Laird

Memorial Day is not about barbecues, parties, days off of work, or parades. It's not about who mowed the lawn, who brought the potato salad, or who forgot the ice. Not that there's anything wrong with any of those, but here in the US, Memorial Day is supposed to be a remembrance of the men and women who've sacrificed their lives in military service. And, at least in my personal case, a day to appreciate those left behind with soldier-shaped holes in their hearts. Too often we let petty interests crowd out the real purpose behind this holiday. In doing so we not only dishonor those we"re supposed to remember, we disrespect the loved ones they fought for.

In 1 Samuel 30:24, David clearly said those who stay behind to tend the home, while others fight on the front lines, are just as responsible for the battle"s success. The spouse left alone for months on end is fighting a battle every single day, in their own way, even if the soldier"s job is more dangerous and more specialized. A soldier"s gear is heavy, but children who manage with phone calls and emails instead of hugs and kisses, week after week, are carrying a burden of their own. And for some, left with nothing to hold on to but memories, dog tags, and a folded flag, the battle never ends, and the load never comes off of their shoulders.

I"ve heard it said that being a solider is like writing your nation a blank check, payable up to and including your own life. Our Veteran"s Day holiday, in November, is set aside for everyone who put their name on one of those blank checks. However, Memorial Day is specifically about remembering the ones whose checks came due, and who never came home. It should also, I think, be about appreciating the sacrifice, the cost, borne by the sons and daughters, husbands and wives, fathers and mothers, who will be paying interest on those checks for the rest of their lives.

One of my favorite songs is MercyMe"s "Homesick", a psalm of grief for a lost loved one. The song includes this spectacular summary of the hope we have in the Gospel:
I close my eyes, and I see your face. If home"s where my heart is, then I"m out of place. Lord, won"t you give me strength, to make it through, somehow? I"ve never been more homesick than now.

In Christ, there are no goodbyes. In Christ, there is no end. So I hold on to Jesus, with all that I have, to see you again…to see you again.
I thank God every day, not only that the Gospel of Christ is true, but that the Truth gives each of us the hope of seeing our loved ones again someday. That"s something we should keep in mind every moment, as we strive to live out that message, and to share it with others. We should also respect the pain that comes with missing those loved ones, even as we hold on to our hope of reunion. Christ wept at the tomb of Lazarus (John 11:34-35), even though he knew He was about to bring Mary and Martha"s brother back from the dead. His compassion should be ours.

So before you get upset about the weather, the traffic, your work schedule, or whether or not the hot dogs are cooked just right, stop and think about how blessed you are that those are the problems weighing on your mind. Consider how many people don"t worry about potato salad, because their concerns are little bigger. At the very least, take that time and energy, and turn it into love and appreciation for the men and women — uniformed and otherwise — who paid a steep price for the sake of our freedoms.

Barbecues, parties, and days off are wonderful, but let"s not lose sight of what this day is really dedicated to. Give honor to those i"s due (Romans 13:7). Be thankful, be mindful, be in memory of the ones who never came home. And please, take some time to lift up the homes and hearts that live out Memorial Day, every day.

TagsCelebrating-Holidays  |  Current-Issues  |  Family-Life  |  Hardships

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Published 5-23-2014