I dare say that if you took all the church bulletins printed each week across the globe, you wouldn’t find too many references to 90’s pop music. The gears started turning on this week’s topic though and what kept coming out was the 1997 single “The Impression That I Get” by the Mighty Mighty Bosstones. As the song goes “Have you ever been close to tragedy or been close to folks who have? Have you ever felt a pain so powerful so heavy you collapse? No well…I never had to knock on wood, but I know someone who has. Which makes me wonder if I could…” You see in terms of hard times, I really haven’t had it all that bad. Yes I grew up in a single parent home and yes there were nights when I asked the stars above what my purpose was. I’ve never known much in the way of tragedy though...things were tough, I lived through it, and I’ve been rewarded with a family I deeply cherish both at home and church.
My purpose this week is not to brag about how lucky I am or to pat myself on the back for staying out of harms way, but just the opposite. I’ve never had to stand up for what I believe in. I’ve never slung a rifle on my back, crawled under a spray of enemy fire, and scrambled to stay alive so others could be free. I’ve only been in two fights that I can remember and was 12 years old at the time the last one occurred. Nobody has ever told me I can’t pray where ever or whenever I want. I’ve never left my family for more than a couple days at a time. “I’ve never had to knock on wood, but I know someone who has…”
His name was Thomas Bryant Beck Sr (my great grandfather) and he died on the sands of Iwo Jima on February 19th, 1945. Nobody forced him to join the Marines. No draft letter came in the mail demanding him to stand up and fight for freedom. He wasn’t hurting for cash and looking for way to go to college. He was 33 with a wife, four children, and the guts to stand up for what he believed in. He was one of thousands who have given up everything so that the rest of us can sit around with our iPhones and laptops chatting about the latest winner of American Idol. They are the reason we’ve never known what it’s like to live without freedom. The soldiers that look in their children’s faces and agree to be sent to foreign lands where nobody understands a word they say and every smiling face has the potential to hide the devil himself.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16. Everyday fathers, mothers, wives, and husbands sacrifice in the name of The United States of America. They put the rest of our needs before theirs and they walk that path that so many of us dare not. Quiet honestly saying thank you just doesn’t seem enough….