Monday, May 30, 2016

Memorial Day

Gold Star Mom by artist Tom White.
Image from the artist's website.
Daily Gratitude Year 4-Day 151: Today, I am grateful for the the men... and women who have served and sacrificed for the cause of freedom and the love of their homeland. 

I am, also, grateful for the families who "soldier up" at home and keep the home fires in order and the lamp lit until their loved one returns.  Some return, but not as expected.

This is a day that I find more emotion than words. I know...that is unusual. But, today words fail. This day... Memorial Day...  is different. It strikes a chord in my a minor key (minor keys are the ones that sound sad). Gratitude pours out for those who feel called to serve and protect and answer the call. Freedom isn't free. 

When words fail...I look to art. 

Art is powerful and it speaks. I am, especially, drawn to metal sculptures. I moves me when something as hard as the artist's forged into something that touches the softest places in my heart.I know art matters. I am affirmed in my opinion that we were "created to create", and love can be spoken... and perhaps it echoes...through the arts.  

Tom White is an artist who did not begin sculpting until he found a personal relationship with Christ in his early 30's. (It actually says that on his website!) He discovered "an unexpected and hidden talent" for sculpture  when he developed a life-giving relationship with his Creator. Yes...he was created to create. A carpenter by trade and a sculpture upon embracing his "God breath". (Okay, I have to say it again...we were created in His image...thus, created to create.) 

This piece of art was unveiled in 2010. It was commissioned to be a part of the "Brazoria County Ring of Honor" in Angleton, TX. It is titled "Gold Star Mom". Mom...not mother. Less formal and more personal, and the "Gold Star" indicating she gave her best.  

Gold Star Mom by artist Tom White. 
Image from the artist's website.
The name fits perfectly. The website does not reference the "American Gold Star Mother's Inc", or the "Gold Star Wives of America", but the connection seems obvious. These organizations were formed to support military spouses and mother's through the loss of their loved one while in service. The soldier makes the ultimate sacrifice and their loved ones carry the honor and the grief. 

"This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you." -John 15:12-14

The call to "lay down our lives" manifests differently because each of us in uniquely made in His image. Some lay down their lives on the mission field...some in homeless shelters... others in the medical community... and some in the military. 

Justice isn't always simple, with clean lines and black and white solutions. Politics muddy the waters and money is, too often, the master served. Laws are skirted and even changed for personal profit. Still, the good, honest, courageous men and women serving in our military are there to serve, defend and protect the people and the values of this nation. Not just their own families, but this land they call home. Not the politics, but the people. 

I won't pretend "American Justice" is God's justice...but many of this land are rooted in faith, grounded in Biblical truth and praying for the direction of our leaders. We can't forget that our founding fathers came to this land for worship freedom. Laws were set up to protect religious freedom and worship freedom. How we use or misuse the will not go unnoticed by God. He instructs us to "do justice". Not just watch it. 

Jesus was at war with the devil. His time in the desert proved how ugly and unrelenting the enemy can be. He stood the test. In between...he did as much good as he could do, taught truth and gave of himself. Then, he was taken prisoner in the war. He suffered. He was sacrificed. He paid for my sins and yours...and rose again in victory over Satan, sin and death. 

"By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him,how does God's love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him;  for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything.  Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God;" - 1 John 3:16-21
Jesus was on a life-saving, prophesied mission from God. It cost him time away from heaven. Time with his earthly family and friends. He endured discomforts on his mission. He got hungry. He gave of himself until he nearly collapsed with exhaustion as he healed, taught, instructed and empathized with those who were sick, hurting or struggling in other ways. His "band of brothers" stuck with him...for the most part...until he was taken prisoner. His last pre-resurrection physical miracle was to heal the soldier's ears after Peter impulsively cut it off. The solder was doing his job. (Two more miracles were to follow with the thief on the cross receiving  the gift of eternal life...and Jesus actual sacrifice for the sin of the world.) 
Jesus endured the pain of seeing his mother suffer as she witnessed his crucifixion. I imagine that this bronze sculpture would resonate with a mother whose son made the ultimate sacrifice to save lives and set sinners free. 
Today, I am grateful for the the men... and women who have served and sacrificed for the cause of freedom and the love of their homeland. We can pray for those in service today as we remember those who have lost loved ones. I am, also, reminded that by Jesus paying the ultimate price...this land I love is not my home. We can press on.  

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