I sat alone, my husband being over a thousand miles away for training in preparation for his deployment to Iraq in the near future. I tended to notice the young couples especially. The one in front of me were cuddling and whispering. Another couple sat stiffly beside each other; seemingly disinterested in one another. I thought of my own love life. My dear husband was so far away, yet I couldn’t help but breathe a grateful prayer heavenward for the beautiful, passionate love and commitment we share. Our ardor isn’t even dimmed by the miles between us and the minimal contact we have. I love the deep passion our marriage possesses.
Someone stood up to summarize the sermon we just heard. He asked what we placed our trust in. "Money? The shaky economy?" He glanced around the room. "Do you place your trust in the military?" He looked my direction. "We should not place our trust in the military. In fact, we are commanded to stay away from it. Let’s close in prayer."
While I agreed with the certitude that we should not place our trust in any of the security blankets our world offers us, but instead possess a confidence in the Lord who can be our rock and our shelter no matter what life throws our way. But the assumption that the military is wrong and the admonition to stay away from it was reprehensible.
I considered the lives these people live. They had established a cloistered and sheltered way of life. Their purpose and existence would be nothing but thin air if it weren’t for the country they lived in and the freedom that our soldiers have for so many centuries fought to protect. Many of the mission fields they minister to are only possible because our soldiers preceded them and brought an end to the dictators that executed horrible genocide that once so heavily oppressed those borders. Sunday after Sunday these people can sit in their pews beside their spouse and never for a moment consider that their peaceful existence is possible only because men like my husband were willing to leave behind their comforts and loving wives to go out on the battlefield and protect this freedom that we as civilians take for granted.
Whether you agree with the doctrine behind a man or woman’s decision to join the military or not doesn’t matter. Just remember that the life you live, the job you have and the freedom that’s so much a part of your life you don’t even notice wouldn’t be what it is if it weren’t for the men and women in uniform who fought for it. And when you kiss your sweetheart goodnight tonight remember that there are thousands of men and women who will tell their one true love goodnight over the phone—if they’re lucky enough to have telephone access—being painfully separated by thousands of miles just so you can have your freedom and peaceful life. And next time you see a man or woman in uniform, make sure you express your gratitude. Because whether or not you have a conviction about the military, freedom isn’t free, and it’s these soldiers that have given you yours. It isn’t wrong to be grateful.