This is Memorial Day weekend. It is a time we set aside as a nation to honor the memory of those who gave the ultimate sacrifice of their life in serving this great nation. It is important to remember not to confuse Memorial Day with Veterans Day. Memorial Day was established for the purpose of remembering the men and women who died while serving, while Veterans Day celebrates the service of all U.S. military veterans, living or dead. All of our military and veterans deserve great respect for their sacrifices, for being willing to leave their homes and families to protect this nation so that the rest of us can enjoy the comforts of home and the liberties we so often take for granted. Our veterans are deserving of our greatest respect and gratitude but there is a special remembrance for those who gave everything they had, including their very lives, for you and me. It is their sacrifices that have provided freedom for the rest of us and yet we so often forget just how much being “free” cost them and their families. We have moments of patriotism now and then where we are reminded of the costs and we find ourselves moved greatly by the reality of it all but then we go on with our lives and get wrapped up in the many things clamoring for our attention each day. It isn’t that we aren’t grateful; we are just busy.
As I consider the things I have just mentioned, I cannot help but think of how similar it is with how we look at God most of the time. The Almighty who created all that has ever been actually humbled Himself and gave up the splendor of Heaven to become the human man, Jesus. He came and endured the most unspeakable tortures and death so that I didn’t have to! You see, He was willing to leave his “home” and journey far away because it was necessary in order to secure freedom for those He loves. He loved me enough to go into the greatest battlefield of all and fight the battle I was not trained for nor strong enough to fight. When the enemy was raging, He pressed on. When He was beaten and abused, He remembered me. When He was mocked and spit on, His heart was filled with a love for me that drove Him onward. He never laid down the flag, no matter how difficult the fight became. He kept going without regard for self because He was completely committed to His mission. And when it came time to lay down His life, He did so willingly with a love that surpasses all others. It is important to remember that no one took His life; He gave it up willingly. He died so that we might live. It is an amazing truth that should cause us to fall on our knees in gratitude for all He did…and yet, we are often too busy to remember. Just as it is with our gratitude for the men and women who died serving in our place, we have moments where we are overwhelmed by the reality of what our Father has done for us but then the moments pass and we are back to our busy lives and concerned with our responsibilities or desires. It isn’t that we aren’t grateful; we are just busy.
It is important to remember. It is important to take thought for those who have died so that we can be free. It is good to have a day set aside for honoring these brave and selfless people but we should do it every day. They deserve our respect, gratitude and love each and every day. And as we remember them, let us not overlook the greater picture of a God who left all for one simple reason: He loved us more than anything else. His love drove Him to secure our freedom, no matter what it cost Him personally. We are that important to Him. He values you and me that much! The least we can do in response is to be grateful and live our lives in such a way that His ultimate sacrifice is never in vain.