This morning as I was listening to the radio on my drive to work, I heard the story of a soldier. He was the point-man for his unit as they walked across a bridge. As they were crossing, they were attacked, and he was severely wounded.
He is now a quad-amputee. I listened to this soldier, who lost parts of all four limbs, talk about how grateful he was. He was grateful to be alive. I did not hear any sadness over his injuries, or lament of an altered future. All I heard was a man grateful to be able to share life with his wife.
I heard his wife speak too. She is overjoyed that he is alive. Her only “negative” statement was that she couldn’t do anything but pray while he was still in-theater. Now he is home, and she can’t even imagine a life without him.
12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. (John 15:12-13)
When Jesus said those words, he was fully aware of what he was going to do very soon – die on a cross, first for his friends, but ultimately for every human being to ever live.
Try as I might, I’ll never understand what it means to be that willing. In my mind, I feel sure that I would be willing to give my life for my family, and my friends. But for people I don’t know? Hard to say. Jesus decided to do just that for people who were not even born yet. Yes, he knows us before we are even conceived, but that is not the same thing as an abiding personal relationship. He had that with the disciples, but not with me or you – not yet anyway. I cannot begin to express the depth of gratitude that I have for God’s grace.
Back to that soldier. Perhaps the only people who can truly understand that kind of love are those who have put their lives on the line. But, what I do understand is that an incredible depth of gratitude wells-up in me today as I consider what men and women like him are willing to do. Politics aside, that guy is a hero to every person who loves freedom. And what’s even more amazing is that there are about a million other men and women willing to place life and limb on the line.
Happy veterans day to all who have put on a uniform in our armed services. May God bless you, richly and immeasurably.