I spent 10 years serving my country on active duty in the Army.
I deployed to Iraq and Bosnia and served in Germany and Korea as well as several state-side bases. Before that, I spent four years as a cadet training for my military role at West Point and 12 more working to get into the Military Academy. I dreamed of serving my country from the time I was a freckle-faced eight-year-old with her carrot-colored hair cut carefully in a bowl shape.
Now, I am married to an Active Duty Soldier.
I can’t hear the soulful notes of the National Anthem and keep my eyes dry.
Being an American has always meant serving my country. I feel blessed to have been born in this country where we are free. Free to speak our minds. Free to practice our religion. Free to pursue our own happiness. Free to be who God created each of us to be.
But our freedom comes with an often unspoken obligation.
John F. Kennedy gave voice to that ideal in his Inaugural Address on January 20, 1961:
My fellow Americans,
ask not what your country can do for you,
ask what you can do for your country.
It was easy to assume I was living up to the expectations of serving my country when I laced up combat boots and donned my camouflage uniform. I was making a big investment in my country. But now, as a civilian, I often struggle with making a meaningful contribution to my community, let alone my country.
Blog posts beg to be written and e-mails demand answers. Constant vibrations from my phone lure me away from real life. Minutes pass all too quickly when I’m packing lunches, cleaning toilets, shuttling my littles, forcing vegetables at dinner, and fighting for a decent bed time. That doesn’t even take into account the planning, purchasing, and preparing required for the women who gather for my weekly craft workshops. Daily demands pile up and I’m left with few resources to serve anybody but myself.
Nearly two thousand years ago, Jesus challenged us in much the same way as President Kennedy. To love one another, even our enemies. Serve one another. Go the extra mile. Use our gifts for His glory.
When I wonder if my ministry work measures up to much, I recall what Jesus said to His disciples on the Mount of Olives:
The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” (Matthew 25:40)
Did you catch that? He said, whatever you do for one. Not all. Not the entire nation. Not everybody. What we do for one matters to Him.
Just like God’s eternal kingdom is made up of individuals, our country is a conglomeration of “ones” too. I’ve learned that whatever I do to love and serve the one in my own back yard, I do not only for my King, but also for my country. We harness great power when each of us uses our freedom to make a small contribution to our neighbors.
True freedom for all people comes through service to one another.
So, carry the groceries. Pray the prayer. Hold the door with a smile. Watch the kids so weary parents can reconnect on a date night. Mail that card. Send that text. Pay for the car behind you in the drive through. Ask how a friend is doing and really listen to their answer.
Those investments add up. And the benefits reach beyond our borders.
They have heavenly value.
Pray for God to show you who you can serve today and the courage to follow through with His challenge. Then come back and share your contribution for King and country in the comments below.Leave a Comment
Michele Morin says
Yes and amen!
Thank you, Liz, for all you have done to serve — and for all that you are now doing! It’s the small things that we do in hidden ways that show our true character and that require so much grace and mercy.
So great to see your work featured here, Liz!
Blessings to you!
Thank you for your kind words and encouragement, Michele! It is such a comfort knowing that even the things we do that the world doesn’t acknowledge never go unnoticed by God! Blessings!
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
Love this…”our country is a conglomeration of one’s”…sometimes I wonder if my random acts of kindness add up to anything in the big scheme of things. Thank you for this wonderful reminder that whatever we do for “one” of the least of these….we do for Christ. I’m feeling the urge to pass through Starbucks this am…write “Do you know Jesus loves you?” on my business card….and pay for the person behind me and ask the barista to pass my note along. I believe Jesus commands us to do this not just for the other person, but for ourselves because it’s good soul food. Thank you for your service to our country. We owe you, and others who serve, a debt of gratitude!!
It IS good soul food, Bev! Each one of us matter to God, so we ought to matter to each other, too! Blessings as you reach out today!
Rita B says
Liz, thank you for your service to our country. And thank you for the reminder that the service to “ones” count and to focus on serving daily in our house, community and that each small opening of a door or carrying someone’s groceries is truly serving.
Indeed, Rita! Serving in my own home is sometimes the most challenging of places for me! I do think we can easily get so wrapped up in looking for ways to serve on a big scale that we miss lots of small opportunities! Blessings!
Thank you for your service to our country, as well as the service you provide to the (in)courage community. I pray continued blessings for you and your family.
Thank you, Angela! It has been my pleasure! Blessings!
Thank-you for your service, and for the reminder that every little bit matters.
Blessings to all,
Every little bit does matter! I pray we’ll see the opportunities God puts in our paths today! Blessings!
Julie Sunne says
Love this encouragement, Liz! Thank you for your service, in the past and present.
Thank you, Julie! Blessings!
Pearl Allard says
Liz, this is one of the best blog posts I’ve ever read on this subject! Thank you so much not only for your service lacing up combat boots but your service lacing up your feet with the readiness to share the good news of Jesus. “Did you catch that? He said, whatever you do for one. Not all. Not the entire nation. Not everybody. What we do for one matters to Him.” This is both challenging and comforting. Liz, many thanks to you.
So glad God was able to use these words to challenge and comfort you, Pearl! Thank you for your sweet encouragement! Blessings!
As a homeschooling mom with many responsibilities, I also occasionally have the thought that “I am not out there doing enough to make a difference.” But those are not the thoughts of Jesus–those are the thoughts coming from our “doing” culture. Since the days of Adam of Eve when they chose to take matters into their own hands, we humans have been trying hard to make things happen of our own will. (We even think it’s cute when a toddler says for the first time “I do it!” unknowingly creating a dependency of the self.) But Jesus wants us to submit to His will, to rest in Him, to allow Him to work through us for His glory. The opportunities to be light to others and display God’s love and kindness are all throughout our daily lives.* We need not try so hard.
Thank you for your service, your sacrifices and sharing God’s love.
*We need to discard the world’s idea that it’s selfish to serve your own family. If a king were to leave his precious infant prince or princess with you, asking you to lovingly care for them and tell you he would return many years later, you would be honored. And yet we forget that our children and our spouse are precious gifts to us…on loan to us from our Father in Heaven. Let’s not neglect those treasures.
So much food for thought in your comment, Cindi! We have become humans doing rather than being! We so often try to do before we have been with Jesus and wind up at the end of ourselves! I pray God will richly bless you for the love you pour into your family! Your are so right about them being a priceless gift and we should honor the opportunity to raise the babies God gives us! Blessings!
Liz! So sweet to see you here this morning. <3 Such beautifully written words, friend. Thanks for the reminder that it all matters. He can make what seems small into something of great worth. All we need do is — be faithful to the Spirit. I read a book recently that challenged my spirit on this topic and I've been praying for God to show me ways I can meet Him in others. Your post speaks right into that prayer. Thank you for sharing. And for all you and your family have done for the freedom of me and mine. ((xoxo))
That sounds like a book I need to read, Brenda! Thank you for being such a wonderful encourager! Blessings!
Wonderful, wonderful post!!! Thank-you for letting the Lord speak through you, what amazing words of encouragement! Thank-you for your service and for that of your husband as well! As a mother of 4, it is always good to have a reminder that the little things matter.
The things that seem small always matter to God! He sees every one of them! I pray He will bless all your acts of love as a mother to the children He has blessed you with! Keep doing all thing in love!
Ruth Bliss says
Thanks for your comments regarding your service for our country! It is special to have given “what we can” as a “down payment” for the rest of the time God gives us to live and serve Him. After our first 4-year term of missionary service in Liberia my husband and I with our 4-year old son returned to our home country. Standing in the immigration line the officer took our passports and after looking at them for a bit he said, “You’ve been gone a long time! WELCOME HOME!” The emotions that fill me each time I share this only begin to demonstrate what
America means to me. Some day we will stand before our King Jesus who will say “Welcome Home!” and then I will be truly HOME!
P.S. Last night I listened to the Air National Guard Band of the West Coast play a concert at the Redlands Bowl, Redlands, CA. With the temperature starting at 100 degrees I was thrilled the audience of thousands were there to encourage and appreciate the talented musicians and their patriotic presentation! God Bless America!
Wow! 4 years in Liberia… I bet you have some stories to tell! What a glorious day it will be when Jesus ushers us into our eternal home! The concert sounds amazing! I always love listening to a military band! Blessings!
Liz, I completely relate to your beautiful words today. I did not serve, but have been a military dependent most of my life. You have a servant’s heart, and that is becoming a rare quality these days. My husband toured with the USAF Band all over the country and has worked with some very, very talented men and women in uniform. I loved watching them perform, as it would bring out the best in people. I have some unique memories, watching the tears flow at Hickam Field on Dec. 7th; watching children and adults dancing in the town square in Sonoma on July 4th; hearing Dolores Hope sing “Thanks for the Memories” to her beloved Bob at the 50th Anniversary of VJ Day, and I could go on and on. And I have a family tree full of wartime heroes. Sharing and serving God, thankfully, don’t have to be on this scale. A compassionate hug, a greeting card, sharing Jesus over a cup of coffee. Sometimes, the smallest gestures make all the difference in another’s life. You have a different uniform now. Being a loving mom is one of the greatest gifts and opportunities to serve God. Not to mention all the other roles you now play. So, don’t think you aren’t serving because you are enriching their lives each and every day. God bless you on your rich and rewarding journey!
Thanks for your sweet encouragement! You do have a long history of military in your family. You’ve served mightily by supporting your Solider, too! But you’re so right, we don’t have to put on cammies to serve our neighbors! Small gestures can change the course of someone’s day and we are all equipped to share God’s love! Blessings!
Oh Liz, you give such as unique and special perspective on this. I love your wisdom and encouraging heart! Thank you for this fabulous devotion.
Thanks for your encouragement, sweet friend! You are such a blessing to me!
Thank you so much Liz to you and your husband for your service to our beautiful country! May God bless you always ❤️
Thank you for your support and encouragement, Stephanie! Blessings!
Kristine Mylett says
Thank you so much for your service!! This is a beautiful devotional.
Thank you, Kristine! I appreciate your support and encouragment! Blessings!
Beth Williams says
A hearty hurrah for serving our country then & now! You do a great service managing the home front & two little ones while dad is off serving our country. Blessings to you both!!
This post reminded me of a song by Stephen C. Chapman “Do Everything” He talks abut mundane tasks like “matching socks & picking up toys. “Little stuff Big stuff In between stuff God sees it all the same While I may not know you I bet I know you
Wonder sometimes, does it matter at all? Well let me remind you, it all matters just as long
As you do everything you do to the glory of the One who made you, Because he made you, To do Every little thing that you do
To bring a smile to His face Tell the story of grace With every move that you make And every little thing you do.
Yeah it all matters if we do it to glorify God!
I had a God moment a few years ago. I was visiting my aging dad in the assisted living as part of my weekly routine. It was lunch time & his tremors were making eating difficult. I asked & then proceeded to help feed him. One of the table mates spoke up & said you will get jewels in your crown for this. It was like God saying this is where I want you. This is glorifying to me!
I know that song, Beth! What a beautiful God-wink moment I love it when I can feel His presence gently guiding and encouraging me! Blessings!
Tara L. Cole says
Thank you so much for your service and encouragement! I really needed the reminder that the one matters as much as the one hundred.
Yes, indeed, Tara! The “eaches” matter to God, but serving them is often thankless work here on earth. I pray you will see the one whose life you can impact today and have to the courage to step up! Blessings!!
Thank you for this beautiful reminder Liz and for your service! Whatever you do for the least of these…Yes!
Thanks for your support and encouragment, Crystal! Blessings!