This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. —1 John 3:16 NIV
“Is my daddy going to die?” asked our six-year-old with eyes wide and solemn. Her daddy was leaving that week to fight in the Persian Gulf War. We were stationed in Germany in 1990, and I had rested comfortably in the false assumption that since Ray was already deployed to Germany, he wouldn’t be deployed again from Germany to Kuwait. Wrong. We arrived in Germany in September, and Ray left with his battalion December 15.
I remember the day he left and the agonizing internal scream that unleashed inside me. I remember the dread of tuning into war news to hear what was happening … hoping it wasn’t happening near Ray. I remember the heightened security at Robinson Barracks, where we lived with hundreds of other military families. I remember not going to bed. Just not going. For nights on end, I couldn’t face that bedroom without my Ray beside me. I’d fall asleep on the couch, then stumble to bed at first light to catch a few more hours of sleep. I remember my daughter’s question. I remember realizing that I could not truthfully reassure her that her father would not die. I could assure her that even if we lost Daddy, he would be safe with Jesus. But it was hard to answer. Ray experienced some close calls, but we thank God he came home to us.
This weekend, however, we remember those who never came home again. The ones who hugged families goodbye, steadied their hearts, shouldered their gear, and walked toward danger for the sake of those families. The ones who honored their oaths to their country. The ones who fought against tyranny in faraway places, striving to bring freedom to the oppressed. The ones whose spouses, children, and parents endured unimaginable loss. The ones who died because they loved.
Granted, not everyone fights for the right reasons, not every war rescues the oppressed. But, can we stop today and just remember with gratitude the huge sacrifices made in our country by men and women who did love? Who did fight for freedom? Who did fight because they believed in right over wrong?
Hard on the heels of our remembering—for those of us who follow Christ—comes the memory of the greatest Love of all. The perfect God, who didn’t “need” us in any sense of the word, yet loved us enough to die in our place and rescue us from the sin and evil we allow to entangle us. His sacrifice teaches us what love is.
John appeals to us in the verses that follow our verses above, “If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth” (1 John 3:17-18). True love sacrifices. I am thankful this Memorial Day Weekend for every service member who has sacrificed his or her life for love of country, freedom, family, and goodness. I am challenged by this verse to lay down my own life in more concrete ways, in sacrifice, and in giving to those in need around me.
Thank You, Lord God, for love so great You sacrificed Your life to give us life. Thank You for enabling men and women to sacrificially lay down their lives on behalf of others. Help us to love like that. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
You are loved,
Sweet Selah Ministries
Vision To encourage a movement away from the belief that “busy is better”
and toward the truth that stillness and knowing God matter most—
and will be reflected in more effective work and service
To offer resources and retreats that help women pause (Selah)
and love God more deeply as they know Him more intimately (Sweet)
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