She was chasing her dream on a ship in the Atlantic. The sun was beating down on metal and flesh and reflecting off the crystal waves. Jo wanted to push the sweat-drenched strands of hair from her eyes but fought the urge for the twentieth time as she stood perfectly erect, hands stiff at her side, on the wide, sun-drenched deck. Every muscle in her body pulsed in time with the rhythm of her heartbeat, the pain of each throb a mere tickle of what she would soon face. All of it seemed minimal compared to the overwhelming sense of honor she felt in having secured her place to serve.
The echo of remembered words of wisdom came to her again, “to do what is just and right is more acceptable to God than sacrifice,” her favorite author had said. It wasn’t arrogance or anger but innocent hope that prompted the aspirations she pursued. “How about accomplishing all three in one lifetime?” she used to whisper to herself.
Now the weight of the words came screaming clear as she stared at the first obstacle she would have to overcome. He was enormous, menacing, and looked as if he could crush her with his bare hands.
Her entire life had come down to this moment, this precursor to a bright or dismal future. Like David in the shadow of the giant, she was a child standing in a strength beyond her, fighting only because somewhere in her heart she knew it was right. In a few passing seconds, she watched childhood memories and the faces of family and friends pass before her eyes, each picture a poignant reminder of why she was here; her love for them was stronger than she was. This was all the more evident in the slight tremble of her limbs.
The brooding titan was deliberate in his step as he passed five of her comrades lined up on her left. Each man stood like a stone statue staring ahead, hard and unmoved, a tribute to American strength. As his foot fell in front of her, he stopped abruptly and turned until she could see the cold fire in his eyes.
She unconsciously caught her breath but stood erect, head held high as his breath hit her face like a puff of arid sulfur that made her skin crawl. He glared down at her, daring her to look him in the eye as she rigidly fixed her gaze ahead at the flag rippling red, white, and blue on the port bow. Metal met metal in the ensuing seconds; it was a silent struggle of intimidation and will as he towered over her for what seemed an eternity. Terrified deep down but unflinching in stance, she bent her attention on everything she was standing for and all she held dear until at last, he relented.
“Glad to have you aboard, Private,” he shouted.
She could not hold back a slight grin that escaped her lips as she rigidly raised her hand to her head in salute.
“Sir! Thank you, sir!” she shouted in response.
For the sacrifices they’ve made, thank you to the military men and women who faithfully serve the United States of America. May it be mutual as we honor with our lives the freedom you’ve secured for us. We could never repay what we owe.
My challenge to you this week: give up for at least 7 days something you know men and women in uniform don’t have while they’re on duty… something that would be a sacrifice for you (aka. something you’re not already living without most days). If you can’t easily think of something, find a service man or woman; ask them what they don’t have access to while they’re serving. It may even be a kind of food you love (it’s gotta be hard to find a burger in Kazakhstan). Whatever you choose to give up, tell a friend and have them keep you accountable. A taste of faithful sacrifice for a week will bless your life. It’ll be hard but I’ll be giving up TV and movies until next week. Please hold me to it!
In honor of their sacrifice and service…
“No, I insist on paying you for it. I will not sacrifice to the Lord my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing.” – 2 Samuel 24:24