A speech I was honored to present for a Veteran's Day program at Victory Life Academy:
From what little I know about the training to become a service member in the United States military, I have learned that my hardest days are their cheesecake, and only in the strength of the Lord would I be able to endure that first day of basic training. Pretty soon after I hit the first set of push-ups, they might give me the boot. I teach online classes with Liberty University, and have found that many of my best students are military. They follow instructions! They are respectful! They have survived a training that stripped them of their identity and gave them a new one. I can only imagine that in losing your identity, you must seek a strength much greater than yourself.
My brother-in-law was in the US Army; they were stationed in Italy and he saw intense action, had to make life-or-death choices. My uncle served 20 years, making rounds in Vietnam, Germany, and Hawaii. I spoke with him yesterday, and the stories just began to roll – from firing nuclear weapons to meeting Julie Andrews, the army changed his life. And he changed lives because of the army. These are just two short snippets of lives, stories, interwoven with this force that watches over us while we sleep. They see the invisible enemy and run toward it to save us. They make those hard calls; they know information we couldn’t handle; they maintain a volume of terminology that means things we civilians don’t relate with, like “DFAC,” “cover,” “hit the rack,” “smoked,” “wire stretchers,” “PCS,” “quarters,” “MOS,” “POV,” “boots on the ground,” and “let’s roll.” Continue rolling out, even beyond the call of duty.
If you don’t know what any of those terms mean, go ask a vet or serviceman. They’ve got a thousand stories. They’ve seen a thousand shades of red. They’ve known thousands of moments of choosing strength and courage in the glaring light of day and the darkest of all nights.
Today’s meeting offers a cute meet of valor and warfare. Victory Life Academy, you are Warriors! Yeah?! Webster’s dictionary defines a warrior as a person experienced in warfare; a person of great vigor or courage. I grew up attending a private Christian school and our mascot was the Crusader. Liberty University, the largest Christian university in the United States, and has the mascot of the Flames: our motto is that we train champions for Christ. Notice the theme toward which Christ-followers have aimed: Excellence. Passion. Audacity. Moxie. Skill. An intentioned disposition.We aren’t kittens or cream puffs.
1 Peter 5:6-9 tell us, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith.”
Then in Ephesians 6, Paul instructs, “Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power... Put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.”
Christ followers walk a unique line between love, service, care, wisdom, thick skin, humor, and valor. We have no need for fear, for our Father breathed the very air into our lungs, walked on water, befriended his betrayers, and conquered death. We know who wins the battle. We rally against the darkness and fear that negate God’s goodness. We are smiles, hugs, handshakes, authenticity, action, and perseverance. We build relationships and people. We continue on when others would give up. We play with that lonely kid on the playground. We offer food to the hungry. We study, we learn, we use those gifts provided to us.
And we share light in the name of The One who created it.
We are humble warriors.
We serve, we step into unknown lands, on bended knee and with baited breath.
Our Commander is the rock eternal, and we can’t wait to see what he will do next.
Veterans, continue telling us your stories. Continue pulling security, even though your official shift may be over. You are our heroes, both unsung and immortalized in metals.
You are the barricade in the night, the living shield of faith.
We stand with you, and like Dylan Thomas begged, We “Do not go gentle into that good night. Rage, rage against the dying of the light.” We rage in action, peace, applause, honor and joy. We put boots on the ground to thank you for rescuing lives worthy of the millions of push-ups, hours of gut-wrenching sacrifices, and selfless service. Let’s ride.
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