I recline against the headboard in bed and turn pages of Kristen Welch’s Rhinestone Jesus, soaking up her story of how she and her family started a maternity house in Kenya to help young pregnant girls living in extreme poverty. When I reach page 106, I come to a minor detail in the overall scope of the story, but one that hits me with major force.
I sit straight up, tap my nearby husband on the shoulder and say, “Baby, you have to hear this.”
Kristen writes of how Maureen, the Welch’s partner who oversees the maternity house in Kenya, went to the post office to retrieve a package sent by the Welch family. After riding the city bus into town to pick it up, the clerk at the desk wouldn’t give the package to her unless she paid him a bribe. Refusing to be a part of corruption, Maureen returned home empty handed. The next day, the post office called again about the package, so Maureen made an identical trip into town to retrieve it. A different clerk sat behind the counter, but Maureen was again asked to pay a bribe before the package would be handed to her. So once again, Maureen made an about face and left without it.
Armed with prayer and fasting, Maureen was finally able to pick up her package, but not without a significant amount of frustration and hassle first. When I finished reading that story in the book to my husband, we shook our heads and I said, “There’s a freedom I never considered. The freedom to go to the post office and pick up a package without such a hassle.”
Curled up on the sofa with my chai and laptop on hand, I peruse the blog of one of my favorite women, Kat Lee. On this particular post, she talked of a conversation she had with a young man who relayed his plans following high school. He mentions,
“I thought about joining the military, but I love my freedom too much.”
My eyes widen as the irony sinks deep within me. Because it’s true:
Join the military and give up the freedom to choose where you live.
Join the military and give up your freedom of time with your spouse and children.
Join the military and give up the freedom of safety and ease.
Join the military and sacrifice your freedoms so others may rest in countless known and never-thought-about freedoms. Big ones like my daughter getting an education without her dreams turning into nightmares. Small ones like picking up a package from the post office with no threat of corruption. These freedoms and a plethora of others don’t accidentally happen. They are hard fought and won through sacrifices ranging from the loss of good opinions to the loss of life on earth.
Service always brings a sacrifice in one form or another. Jesus’ all-encompassing love reflects this and his nail-scarred hands proves it. Our armed forces serve without complaining about their sacrificed freedoms so you and I may enjoy more freedoms on a daily basis than most the world will know in a lifetime.
To all the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard servicemen and women, the (in)courage community wants you to know how deeply we appreciate you. You are selflessly giving and devoted, and your sacrifices do not go unnoticed.
To the families of our military members, know you have our warmest thanks. You are generous and brave behind the scenes, and your sacrifices do not go unnoticed.
And to those families of the fallen, may you feel the all-encompassing arms of Jesus around you on this Memorial Day and always. May you rest in the heart of God, a heart that knows the ache of loss Himself. He longs to comfort you and love you in the middle of your own loss.
With tender hearts we lift you all up today.
And we say thank you for everything.
Kristen Strong, Chasing Blue Skies
One way we honor the memory of those who served and sacrificed is to make a difference in the lives of those who are serving now. And one way we can do that is to show military spouses they are seen and appreciated. Because when we build up military spouses, they are better able to build up their own service-member husbands and wives. If you would like to learn more about a very real way to do just that, click here.
If you have a loved one serving at home or abroad in the military, might you leave his or her *first* name in a comment so we can pray? And if you don’t, might you leave a word of encouragement to our military and their families?