When I was young, my sixth grade class took a field trip from Cahaba Heights Elementary School to Washington DC. I remember the train ride from Alabama to DC, and seeing the sights and visiting a lot of historic places. I was probably too young to really appreciate all that I had seen and experienced.
Now I live not too far from our nation’s capital and have been several times to see various places, like the National Zoo, the Smithsonian, and the Washington Mall with all its monuments and beautiful buildings.
But even all the way back to that sixth grade trip, I’ve always been impressed by the solemn ceremony of the Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery. The Guards carefully choreograph the event which is a moving tribute to soldiers whose names and sacrifice are “known but to God.” Equally moving are the private moments of steady pacing when the crowds are gone: back and forth, hour after hour, day by day, in even the worst weather.
In September 2003, Hurricane Isabel had passed through our area, I was living in Richmond at the time. The storm was bearing down on Washington, DC, and I read that the guards were told they could seek shelter during the worst of the storm. The guards refused, to no one’s surprise. They unselfishly stood their post to honor their fallen comrades even in the face of a hurricane.
Is it possible to have such unending devotion in this life? How about in your spiritual life? As we read the middle chapter of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 6:1-6), I believe Jesus’ desire is for us to live with an unrelenting, selfless devotion to Him. The Bible calls us to good deeds and holy living, but these are to be acts of worship and obedience (Matthew 6:4-6), not planned out acts for self-glorification (Matthew 6:2). Action must be taken for no other reason than it is the right thing to do.
The apostle Paul endorses this whole-life faithfulness when he pleads with us to make our bodies “a living sacrifice” (Romans 12:1). They say, the one real problem with a living sacrifice is that it keeps crawling off the altar. Wake each morning with this one goal in mind, to live this day for the one who die to set us free.
On this Memorial Day, remember those who have fallen in order to secure and defend our freedom; because freedom in never free.This day is more than the summer kick-off weekend, or a great time for a sale at the mall or the car dealership, it is about sacrifice.
Thank you Jesus for securing our salvation, and thank you to the fallen heroes (and their families) who sacrificed so much so that others might live. Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13).