Posted by: glorifyhim1 | May 30, 2010

What Price for Freedom?

The middle-aged mother sat in the car, her head cradled in her hands, and cried like a baby. Her husband trudged back to the car wearily, every step as though he were dragging a leaden weight. As he joined his wife in the car, she saw the tears slowly sliding down his cheeks and new, fresh, hot tears sprang once again to her face. They spoke scarcely a word to each other, but rode home in silence lost in their separate memories of a young boy who had now become a man who was ready to serve his country.

While similar scenes as this have played out countless times down through the ages, I knew the couple above. They were my husband’s parents and the scene above is when they drove their son, my husband, to the airport to begin his journey to Vietnam. This was nothing new to either of them. In fact, my father-in-law had fought in World War II while my mother-in-law dedicated herself to caring for their small children, single-handedly holding the home and family together. At this stage of their lives they had already seen one son serve in the Navy during peace time, and in addition to the son headed to Vietnam, another son was also presently serving state-side in the Marines. These were difficult, trying times as they said good-bye to sons who were mere children, but who would fast become men. My husband was only 19 years old when he was sent to Vietnam. Scores of other young men also received that call and countless numbers would never return to parents, wives, sons and daughters. And even those who were blessed enough to return, still lost much. They lost time and innocence as they learned what it meant to fight a war.  

As we pause on Memorial Day to remember those who have fought and died for our freedom, I think of the scene above when my husband’s parents took him to the airport. And I think of those who never returned to their homes and families. And I ask, “What price for freedom?”  

But there was another scene that played out all too frequently during the dark days of the conflict in Vietnam. Unlike previous wars in which Americans were involved, soldiers returning from Vietnam were not often honored as heroes. In one such scene, a group of young soldiers sit in an airport restaurant waiting to be served. Other diners come in after them and their orders were taken, but the group of young GI’s are totally ignored. Finally, another diner, aware of what is happening, goes to stand beside the table of soldiers and loudly demands that they be served. A waitress grudgingly takes their order and serves them, and the man who demanded their service picks up the bill and thanks the young men for their service to the country.

My husband was one of those young men and he remembers this man’s kindness to this day. Unfortunately, such kindness was the exception, not the rule. Since the war was unpopular in the United States, the soldiers serving in this conflict were more often treated with disdain and disrespect. Although my husband served in a heavily contested area of Vietnam, he has often stated that the rejection he felt here at home was in many ways harder to bear than what he experienced during the war itself. You expect ill treatment from your enemies, but not from your friends. And I ask, “What price for freedom?”

On this Memorial Day as I think about the sacrifices made by our young men and women, I am reminded of another sacrifice made over two thousand years ago on a hill called Calvary. This sacrifice was made by Jesus when He willingly died on the cross in order to save us from our sins and set us free. Jesus stated in John 8:36: “Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.” Jesus did all He could to make us free, but we have to accept that sacrifice and allow it to make a difference in our lives in order to be truly free. And I ask again, “What price for freedom?”

Although it cost our Savior dearly, many never choose to be free. Instead of accepting the sacrifice Jesus made and finding freedom in Christ, they choose to remain captive to Satan and the sin of the world. War is a direct result of sin and evil in our world.

“Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask.” (James 4:1-2)

Yet Christians are called to stand out and be separate, to show the world what freedom in Christ looks like.

“But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation,

His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called

You out of darkness into His marvelous light; who were once not a people but

Are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.”

(1 Peter 2:9-10)

God’s Word assures us that the nation that seeks to live according to God’s counsel will be blessed. “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people He has chosen as His own inheritance” (Psalm 33:12). Likewise, those that pursue their own ways will not succeed. “The Lord brings the counsel of the nations to nothing; He makes the plans of the peoples of no effect” (Psalm 33:10).

On this Memorial Day as we honor our veterans and the sacrifice they made, may we also look at ourselves. America has been blessed – not because she is inherently good or because she is great. She has been blessed because of the mercy and grace that God has shown to her because of faithful people that have sought God and tried to honor Him with their lives. It is righteousness that will set apart a nation. “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people” (Proverbs 14:34). May we earnestly pray for our nation and seek God’s direction and guidance. “If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways then will I hear from Heaven and will forgive their sins and heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14).

May we also recognize that the freedom we enjoy in our nation is a result of God’s grace and hard sacrifices given by many. It came at a great cost and could crumble around us in an instant if we fail to take a stand for Christ and what is right. Let us not take for granted what cost others so dearly.  What price for freedom?

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