Letter to a Veteran
Anticipating Veteran’s Day, I want to say thank you. I am one of the citizens you served. I never entered the military because God had another plan for my life. Instead, I have paid my taxes to support you, I have visited you in Veteran’s Hospitals, and I have been your pastor.
I realize upon entering the military you understood your life would not be your own. You were trained to receive orders and execute them. You were always answering to a higher authority, even entering battles without knowing “why.” Thank you entering the battle.
Some of you did not serve on the front line, but you served the front line. Living in this city, one thing I have learned is that many hands thrust the point of the spear forward. Someone has to drive the truck, order the ammo, cook the food, and tell the plane they are cleared to land. Thank you for doing what needs to be done.
I think about my Dad, a veteran of World War II. Most of his time in the service was spent training other pilots. In the late stages of the war, he was assigned a crew. They flew their B-17 Flying Fortress to Europe just as the war ended. He had no stories of dropping bombs or narrow escapes through the Nazi flak. But he was still a hero. He did what needed to be done, which is exactly what heroes do. Thank you, veteran, for doing what needs to be done.
Some of you have nightmares and depression. PTSD is not something you just “snap out of.” For all the times your countrymen have not understood, I am sorry. I know you have made snap decisions the best you could, you’ve seen people die, and the scenes of carnage do not go away. True combat is not clean and concise like a movie. My prayer is that you will find a deeper peace, a release, and forgiveness. Thank you for enduring the struggle.
I thank you for all you do, but most of all, I thank you for your example. You show me how to follow my Lord.
He gives me orders: love your enemies. I want to question “why,” but you have taught me that I need to trust His higher authority. You taught me to enter the battle.
My Lord gives me assignments that may not be glamorous. For every talented singer in the choir, there has to be someone in the nursery taking care of crying babies. You remind me there are no small responsibilities in God’s kingdom. You taught me to do what needs to be done.
Even your troubles remind me that my calling can be messy. I haven’t seen bodies blown apart, but I have seen lives come apart, despite my best efforts. Sometimes you want good for people they don’t want for themselves. It gets to you. I have to remember to find the same peace I pray for you. You taught me to endure the struggle for the sake of the mission.
So thank you, veterans for serving our country, for serving me. But thank you even more for painting a picture of what it really means for me to follow Jesus.
With gratitude and grace,