Friday, May 25, 2012

Angels on Guard!

Coming from a military family gives Memorial Day special significance. When I was born my dad was captain of a US Navy ship in the south Pacific. Because his ship was an LST he was involved in many of the major battles - Guam, Philippines, etc. Both my brothers served as career officers in the US Marine Corps - a Lt.Col. and a Major General - and both saw combat on many fronts. My dad and one of my brothers graduated from the US Naval Academy.
I grew up in a wonderful Christian home where God was honored first and most and we were taught to honor and love our country. We sought to instill in both our sons the same strong values. Now they are leaving a similar legacy to our seven grandchildren.
It's that legacy to children and grandchildren that takes on special significance on Memorial Day. The sacrifice so many men and women - both in uniform and out especially as special forces (which both of my brothers were involved with) - have made for our country and freedoms is no small sacrifice!
One sister-in-law stood strong and tall through more deployments that she cares to count! She has also sent both a son and son-in-law to Iraq and Afganistan! Her sacrifice and that of her children is the unseen, and often unsung, sacrifice military families make over and over again.
My youngest sister has sent her "favorite Marine" with his young bride to Quantico Marine Base and then to parts unknown. Don't tell the Marine Corps that as I'm sure "they" think my nephew went on their orders.
These all step up with courage and valor for people like you and me who don't even know the names or the faces of those who have put their life on the line over and over again that others may wake up and live free.
One of the few wartime stories my dad told us as children is how he stood on the con of his ship one day in 1945 watching a Japanese bomber dropping bombs in a path that would drop the last bomb right on top of Daddy's ship. The last bomb never dropped and the plane banked away and off into the wild blue yonder. God literally put His angels on guard around my dad's ship!
Both of my brothers faced conflict and danger many, many times in their Marine lives. Once again God literally put His angels on guard around them. Both nephews were in serious danger and one was injured when an IED blew up right under his armored vehicle in Iraq. Another nephew has not been deployed in combat YET.
What happened when the IED blew up that day in Iraq? Were the angels off duty? I don't believe so! Because I believe God is sovereign I know that neither God nor His angels were not paying attention that day. Can I explain the difference? No, but I can leave the difference in God's hands knowing He is good all the time and that all the time He is good!
One of my brothers is in heaven today because three weeks after he retired from the Marine Corps he was bush-hogging on his NC farm when the tractor flipped and crushed his chest. Where was God that day in NC? Were the angels on other assignments and the duty roster left blank on that day for a farm in NC? No! For reasons that defy my logic God knew He needed Ed in heaven on that particular Saturday afternoon more than we needed him here. Wouldn't have been my call, but it was God's and Ed was ready.
What if Ed had finished his bush-hogging that hot August day and gone in the house for a drink of water? What if the tractor hadn't flipped? Would that make God more on the job or angels more attentive than they were that day in August 1991? No!
We tend to think that if nothing happens then everything is cool and if some tragedy occurs that somehow God is negligent, don't we? On this Memorial Day weekend we need to reflect on the fact that God holds the fate of our country and our protectors in His hands which includes life, death and injury. We should pray for the protection of our troops. We should pray for our brave men and women who suffer terrible injury in the line of duty and come home with radically altered circumstances. We should pray for the families they leave behind so we can live free. We should thank God when service men and women return relatively unscathed. We should also pray for the men and women who return from combat with hidden scars that torture their days and terrify their nights! These are all those we celebrate on this Memorial Day!
These kinds of stories are not unique to my family. We live free in this great country of ours due to the sacrifice of others - some who gave the untimate sacrifice and protected our freedom with their very lives!