Soldier Boy

brandon1This blog isn’t really a personal blog, but since I am a person, some events from my own life will make it on here.  Over Thanksgiving I got to see my cousins again — all four of them, all boys — and especially my eldest cousin, Brandon.  Brandon is nineteen, a little older than me.  Since each girl in my family is slightly younger than one of the boys, we each have our ‘own’ cousin.  Brandon was mine.

Thanksgiving is a wonderful time for family to see each other, and in this case, I will probably see Brandon only one more time for a long while.  On December 30th he leaves to join the Army, going to a base in Oklahoma.  He will then go into basic training and within a year or so take a tour of Iraq and Afghanistan.  He is going to be a data analyst, which means he will be programming the computers to direct artillery where to drop shells (I am hoping that is accurate!).  We are all going to miss him.

While Brandon goes to fight for our country, we are left here on the home front.  Just as Brandon will be a soldier for a greater cause, so are we in our own way.  Not in the sense that we are physically defending our country, but spiritually fighting on its behalf. 

Our nation is not centered around righteousness, and you needn’t look around long to affirm that conclusion.  While we may send soldiers out to uphold America’s legacy of freedom, at home true freedom is being undermined at an alarming rate.  Freedom to do good is no longer one of our rights, it seems — but freedom for evil, as with abortion, gay marriage, and corruption in finance and taxes is the only ‘freedom’ we are allowed.  Thus, we really aren’t free at all.

We can debate, argue, condemn and judge all day long.  There are so many things ‘wrong’ with our society that it would be easy to spend time lamenting the state of it.  While discussing these things is necessary in order to understand and counter them, if all we ever do is ‘discuss’ there won’t be progress.  Secondly, this progress will never be accomplished with human hands alone.  Going into our culture with nothing to offer but another voice of negativity is not a right representation of Christ.  What can we offer to our spiritually dead culture that can bring the ‘change’ they all cry for?  On our own, nothing.  With Christ, everything.

So we must pray.  We must be a voice of encouragement and confidence, knowing God wasn’t surprised that Barack Obama became president.  He wasn’t on coffee break when the Democrats sneaked into the White House.  He is still God, and if anything, rather than lamenting our situation we should take action to make these next four years a time where we rise above our circumstances, trusting the Lord who allowed them. 

Lastly, we are gradually reaching the day when our Lord will return.  These things will come and go, presidents will arrive and leave, nations will rise and fall.  Christ’s kingdom is not of this world.  We will never have a utopia here on earth.  ‘Progress’ will be limited by this fact, for God’s purpose was not for us to create our own heaven in this world.  So in this time, we are soldiers for Christ, fighting His battle, holding His flag — and only He sees the end.  We know we will be victorious with Him.  We just don’t know when.  So, trusting Him, we battle on.

Give Thanks with a Grateful Heart

There is a song that we used to sing in church called ‘Give Thanks’:

Give thanks with a grateful heart/Give thanks to the Holy One/Give thanks, for He has given Jesus Christ, His Son/Now let the weak say I am strong/Let the poor say I am rich/Because of what the Lord has done/For us… Give thanks…

Perhaps you have heard it.  It is a beautiful song. As always, we celebrated Thanksgiving with my Mom’s family yesterday, and of course we thanked God for getting together, and for all the wonderful food Grandma made, and for the freedom to be together in the first place.  But really, everything we are thankful for comes back to one gift that received — Jesus’ sacrifice.

It is so easy to grow cold — or at least indifferent — to the wonderful gift of salvation that we received.  Those of us who have grown up in Christian homes hear it all day every day, and sometimes it gets ‘old’.  But it shouldn’t be that way.  None of us would be where we are, have the privileges we have, the families we are in, the jobs we are paid for or the blessings we have received if it were not for Christ’s sacrifice, and someone’s submission to His will.  I have seen families where it was the grandfather who was the committed Christian, and his legacy has blessed his children and grandchildren — but the grandchildren have lost the reason for their blessing, taking the material and forgetting the spiritual.  We must never forget the origin of our good gifts — the Lord above.

God’s blessings aren’t only material, either.  They are spiritual as well.  This where I, more than anything, am most thankful; because like the song, I in my weakness can say, “I am strong,” and I in my poverty can say, “I am rich.”  Christ is the source of all these things: my security, my love, my hope, my joy.  We hear a lot of people say, “Without Him I am nothing.” Actually, without Him I am something:  sinful.  We aren’t just not attaining our full potential by being separated from Him, but also being willful and rebellious… ‘nothing’ signifies something of a passive regard for our state without Christ.  Without Him, we aren’t ‘nothing’ — we’re pointless! 

A compass has a point.  It ‘points’ North, and it’s ‘point’ is to guide its owner that direction.  Christ is the needle on the compass of our heart, giving us direction and purpose — giving us a ‘point’ in our life.  Of all things to be thankful for, this is it.  Without Christ as our compass, we spend our life wandering in circles, seeking our own good and pleasure and never being satisfied.  Christ satisfies the deepest needs because He is our deepest need

I give thanks, with a grateful heart, for Him.