Serving Our Country

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We all serve in some capacity. And we all encounter tragedy and hard times, wherever we may serve. I have heard it said that we are always in a storm of some kind: Whether approaching, in the midst of, or just leaving.

Similarly, when serving in the military, much is beyond our control as individual soldiers in the midst of many. It is no easy choice to serve. We are sent to foreign lands to be among people who have very different ethical and moral value systems.

In November of 1990, and in January of 1991, our unit was activated and I found myself, early in my twenties, at Khobar Towers, Saudi Arabia. Ten days later, the first scud would be intercepted by a Patriot missile right above our heads. Yet, in the midst of the myriad cultural differences, one day radiates through the evil and hatred of that time. My most memorable day became such when I realized how much hope we brought to the children of these countries.

As we drove through many towns, the children would run out to greet us with peace signs. I cried that day, and again today as I think back. Their enthusiasm and optimism validated our sacrifices. From a trialsome experience, I choose to remember the good that we can bring, the help we can send, and the possibility of bringing the love of Jesus to all those throughout the world. A Bible verse comes to mind:

See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:15

I realize that it is hard to do good when evil is thrown directly at us. But this is a choice we all have to make, and ultimately live with. When the worst of the worst is encountered, can we reach out in love? Bitterness destroys us from the inside out, and I refuse to let that happen to my heart. As I see numerous soldiers devastated by the effects of war, some rise above this tragedy to provide light and become examples for all of us. What will you choose?

Regardless of what we encounter in life, we are in the lives of each other for a reason. Our purpose is to help each other through the good as well as the tough times. I find when my focus is on helping others, there is simply less time to be focused on myself. This is our challenge: To not become bitter, hateful, or cruel in spite of what others do.

I find that through all the difficulties I have faced, I could not have made it through without my faith, knowing that everything God is and does is good. Evil has always existed in this world, and this forces us to make a choice. And yet, even if we have not made a choice, we have chosen. Bob Dylan wrote that we all serve somebody. My question to you is: Who will you serve?

I challenge you to reflect on your life and the choices you have made; the most difficult times you have encountered and the way you handled them. If you want to find comfort in a chaotic world—like the hope I saw in the children running out to greet us, waving peace signs—look to Jesus. He provides that hope for all of us. Only because of Him, am I able to love in spite of whatever anyone does, directly or indirectly. Make your choice today – it will change the way you serve!