This is Eric Metaxas. Today, on Memorial Day, we hear some reflections by our dear old friend Chuck Colson, recorded back in 2010. Stay tuned to BreakPoint.
Memorial Day is when we honor the men and women of our Armed Services who have made “the supreme sacrifice,” who gave their lives for their country.
Especially these days, when Memorial Day seems to be nothing more than a time for cookouts and swim parties, we cannot be reminded often enough about how great a debt we owe our war dead.
They gave up their hopes and dreams, families and friends. They submitted themselves to rigorous discipline—something I understand as a former Marine—24-hours-a-day duty, and placed their lives in great peril. “Greater love has no one than this, that he lays down his life for his friends.”
Their sacrifice ought to inspire in us a profound sense of gratitude. Gratitude for the freedoms we enjoy, bought with a price. And that gratitude should compel us to live lives of service, as well as serving Christ, our neighbor, and yes, our nation.
I can’t help but recall the brilliant film “Saving Private Ryan.” James Ryan, now in his seventies, has returned with his family to the military cemetery in Normandy. He visits the grave of Captain John Miller, the man who, half a century earlier, led the mission to retrieve and save Private Ryan. At the end of the mission, Miller was fatally wounded. As he lay dying leaning against a tank, his final words to Ryan were, “James. Earn this…earn it.”
We then see Ryan kneeling at Captain Miller’s grave, marked by a cross. Ryan, his voice trembling with emotion, says, “Every day I think about what you said to me that day on the bridge. I tried to live my life the best that I could. I hope that was enough. I hope that, at least in your eyes, I’ve earned what all of you have done for me.”
Red-eyed, Ryan then turns to his wife and says, “Tell me I’ve led a good life…tell me I am a good man.”
With great dignity, she says, “You are.”
With that, James Ryan stands and salutes the grave of Captain Miller.
I tell this story in greater detail in my book The Good Life, which you can purchase at ColsonCenter.org.
You see, Private Ryan, out of gratitude for Captain Miller’s sacrifice, did all in his power to live a good life.
And Memorial Day is a great time for each of us to look into the mirror…to examine our own lives. Are we living good lives in gratitude for all those who have sacrificed for us—including our men and women in the military, our families, our friends, and most of all Christ?
Are we, like Ryan, kneeling before the cross? Spielberg, a master cinematographer had to realize the power of this imagery. Are we, out of gratitude, doing our duty for Christ, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, ministering to those in prison, in whatever harvest field to which the Lord has called us?
Examine your life.
And this Memorial Day, at the very least, thank those who have sacrificed for you and those you know who have served our country in the armed forces. Maybe you’ll do what I do when you see a guy or gal in uniform at the airport or in the store, wherever…I walk up to them and say “Thank you for your service.”
And then go and remember Whom it is you serve.
Before we go today, I want to encourage you to remember Chuck’s words: Remember Whom we serve. And then I’d like you to think about this: Chuck understood personally about our Lord’s power to accomplish great things through imperfect people. That led him to build a program to equip Christians from all walks of life to become leaders in their spheres of influence and to change the culture for Christ.
The result is the Centurions Program, brought to you by the Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview, and now led by my friend John Stonestreet. Our modern culture has turned Truth upside down, but the Centurions program will prepare you to fight back, winsomely and effectively.
Visit CenturionsProgram.org today for more details on how you can apply.
Memorial Day: Remember
Give gratitude to God for the freedoms we have in America. And remember those who have sacrificed their time, energy, and even lives so that we can enjoy those freedoms.
And as Eric suggested, consider how you would serve Christ. Consider applying for the Centurions Program.
A History of Memorial Day
How It Began
The Good Life