Veteran’s Day is an important day. It has always held great personal value to me as I am the grand-daughter of a Korean War veteran and the daughter of a Vietnam War veteran. However, in recent years this day set aside in the midst of autumn has taken on an even deeper meaning for me. I am now the mom of a combat veteran. My oldest son, Andrew, served the United States in Afghanistan during the ongoing Operation Enduring Freedom. (*I also have a daughter who is active duty military and another son who will be sworn in to the United States Marines next week.) It wasn’t until I became the mom of a combat veteran that the meaning of Veteran’s Day really began to hit home with me.
I will forever remember the day that Andrew left for Afghanistan. It was a beautiful day in May, the sunshine was brilliant and you could see forever in those Flint Hills in Kansas. We had traveled west to spend time with him in the days leading up to his deployment. As much I prayed and tried to remain emotionally strong, when the time came to say good-bye, I fell apart. I was filled with fear and totally overwhelmed with emotion as I watched my firstborn walk away, for what I feared, might be the last time. There was such a battle between my fear and my faith, especially in those early days and nights.
During the 270 days of that deployment, I learned some valuable lessons, particularly in regard to my relationship with Jesus, and the sacrifice that had been made on my behalf. I began to understand the true meaning and the value of that word. The word sacrifice means to “pay the ultimate price” or give one’s life for the greater good of the whole. For me, that year, the word sacrifice stirred an image of a folded flag on the mantle and I would often wake in the middle of the night after hearing the words “On behalf of a grateful nation” in my dreams- a mother’s worst fear. But then, something began to happen and God allowed me to see sacrifice in a much different way- the sacrifice of His son for us.
I began to imagine how Mary, the mother of Jesus, must have felt as she watched them nail her son to the cross and I am again overcome with emotion. Jesus was mocked, scourged and beaten- before he was crucified on the cross. Mary looked on as Jesus suffered intense and unimaginable pain surely wishing that she could bear that burden for him. Then I think of God, sending His only Son to die for the sins of the world. There was no political cause nor was there any monetary gain to be had. Why would He do that? Why would any father send his only child to suffer such a gruesome death? I had to physically force myself to let go of Andrew when it came to for him to leave to go to war. I knew he was going to be in harm’s way, and I almost couldn’t do it. I couldn’t imagine the sacrifice made not only by Jesus, giving His life on our behalf, but also the sacrifice of His Father, our Father, in heaven.
And then one of my favorite passages of Scripture came to mind:
“but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8
It was love. God loved us that much. Love was the reason. He knew that we would continue to struggle with sin, but He sent His Son anyway. He loved each of us with such an intimate love that He was willing to do that so that we might have eternal life with Him one day.
This Veteran’s Day I would encourage you to thank a veteran and ponder in your heart the sacrifice that they made by going to war to fight to protect our freedom. Each veteran willingly placed themselves in harm’s way knowing they might not make it home to their families. They were willing to die for the greater good of our nation. Perhaps even thank a veteran’s mother for being strong enough to watch her child leave for war. And then, thank God that even in the midst of our spiritual ugliness and sin, His Son willingly suffered and paid “the ultimate price” with His life because He loved us. Thank Him with your life and the way that you live it. Do your actions glorify God? Can others see Jesus in you?
Live a life that is pleasing to Him to honor the loving sacrifice that was made for you and for me, that we might “have life and have it abundantly”. (John 10:10)
Steph Cash-Beckner is wife to a pastor and proud mom to a great group of cool kids, two of whom serve actively in the United States military. Steph is a full-time student studying English/Creative Writing and has had three works published to date. Her hobbies are reading, writing, baking and hiking.