I met a hero last night. Actually, I was surrounded by them but had the honor of speaking with one particular person. Our mayor and county commissioners sponsored a Veterans Day parade and recognition service on the town square. As we milled about the streets, I noticed stacked chairs being placed on the sidewalk, so I grabbed a stack and carried them into place. As I straightened to go get more chairs, a man approached with an outstretched hand and offered thanks for all 'we' were doing to recognize veterans.
(Thanks to all Veterans on their Day!)
Steve (real name) introduced himself and began to tell his story. He served in the USAF and happened to see the Honor Guard performing their duties at a funeral one day. He determined when he came back stateside he wanted to give back to his country by serving on the Honor Guard. He received training and has been serving our country ever since. Traveling up and down the east coast, Steve has been the guard member who begins the flag folding ceremony and he takes great pride in making each fold precise. He honors his country, the flag, and the grieving family who will receive it with his undying desire to serve. Thank you Steve for your service. You inspire this pastor.
We strive to live in a safe world we have created and never aspire to think outside of that safe space. Caught up in our own little bubble, we fail to consider the trials of others and don't seek to be a difference maker. It becomes second nature to dismiss any responsibility we might have to invest our lives into another person or people group. How sad. As we enjoyed dinner last night at a local deli and just before the parade began, I couldn't help but see a strange connection between the reflection in the glass and the real world busily moving by outside. Some people walked by oblivious while others peered through the window and watched us eat.
Our position in the deli felt safe and separated us from all that was going on outside. We enjoyed warmth and yummy food. It felt like we had a prized vantage point. Then it hit me. We have to make a conscious effort to avoid isolation. We have to push ourselves beyond that comfort zone (safe space) to interact with the world. Just as Steve found the world to be a frightening and deadly place, we too are immersed in a world that doesn't always play fairly. Steve chose to serve his country, then serve his fellow man afterward. We have a choice to make. Will we cower in fear? When asked to serve, will we step forward boldly? Post service, will we continue to serve? Or, will we decide the world is too threatening and hide ourselves away from the mean world?
Today (and everyday) acknowledge and thank veterans when you see them. Their selfless service to our country allows us to live and prosper in the greatest country in the world. If you sense you may be sequestered in a self-made bubble of safety, consider risking your love and service to those around you who hurt and need what you have to offer. Go ahead, offer it. Offer yourself. Break the bubble.
"This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our
lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity
on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but
with actions and in truth." (1 John 3:16-18, NIV)