Veteran’s Day brings images of freedom — and thoughts of the people who in some way have made our freedom possible — in the United States and in support of freedom around the world. I can’t fully appreciate what servicemen and women have done — and continue to do — on my behalf. To really know you’d have to be physically where they are, with their families when they are away or return permanently changed, in the hospitals where they battle to recover from injuries, or in the cemeteries where they lie. You’d have to even see inside their memories.
The best way I can respect veterans — and honor their service — is to handle my freedoms carefully.
One freedom protected for me by military service members is freedom to follow the faith of my choice. For me this is Christianity — which teaches one God in three persons — Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Followers of Christ believe that Jesus, the Son, emptied Himself of His fullness within the Trinity to take on humanity. Why? To explain God in a way humankind could understand. To live a life without sin — a life of love and humility and serving others — and offer on the cross His unblemished life as a covering for my imperfect one.
This came to me in a meaningful way a few years ago during a communion service in a little church in Priest River — as we remembered the broken body and shed blood of Jesus in the bread and juice. I felt adrift in memories of grievous wrongs I’d committed. “What do I do with these memories?” I asked silently. “They are a part of me.”
In answer I heard, “When I forgive you, when I make clean, that is all of you. Including your memories.” An immense freedom swept through me. Shame and guilt vanished. There was no more hiding from God, myself, or others.
The sacrifice of Jesus is not the end of the story. The Bible proclaims His power to lay His life down, and take it up again. A resurrected Savior able to gift me with life unending.
The freedom to have a Bible, to receive this life-changing story, comes directly from service members who over the years have stood for religious freedom.
I won’t meet most of them. But I can surely reach for — and cherish — the unsurpassed freedoms they protect.