Serve or Be Served?

There are just some days you dread. I knew that Monday, August 8, 2016 would be coming. After all it was on the calendar. But for personal reasons, I tried to ignore that day all summer long. But as I write this, it is that day.

There are some days you look forward to, but they seem to come and go so quickly. As if you didn’t get as much enjoyment out of it as you thought. Then the days you dread come and crawl by at a snail’s pace. And those days seem to include a heaviness about them that you just can’t seem to shake.

Today Cheryl and I took our youngest, Noah, to the Air Force Recruitment Office for his departure not just to Boot Camp but for his 6 year commitment to serve his country. We are equal parts sad and proud, ok maybe a little sadder today but proud none the less. This is something that Noah has talked about doing for a long time. He follows in a long line of family members who have served, including his step- brother Brian and his uncle Butch.

This decision has been prayed about and I find great comfort that this is where God is leading him. As tempting as it is sometimes to try and live your children’s life for them, I am thankful that he has chosen his own path. It is his life to lead or better yet, his life to follow the plan that God has for him. Yet, it is still hard to let him go.

I have found comfort in that grin of his you can’t help but love and even his constant complaining about what is wrong with his El Camino. He was my constant help around the house and the little sneak that tried to tickle me when I least expected it. I can’t tell you how much I love my children. It’s just hard to describe. All I can say is that, like our other children that have left home to pursue their dreams, a little part of me went with him.

As I have struggled with today, I have thought a great deal and talked a great deal to God the Father. He knows exactly how I feel. After all, over a couple of thousand years ago He sent His Son to earth. I wonder if He had the same feelings?  They had always been together. Always.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3: 16 (NIV).

There are so many things about God that are hard to wrap your mind around. He has always been. So has Jesus. They have no birthdate. I know Jesus has an earthly birthdate, which we don’t really know, but they have always been together. Until the day Jesus came to us.

I don’t know what the future holds for Noah or any of my children for that matter. But if I knew he would face what Jesus had to face, would I let him go? Would I do everything I could to stop it or would I even try to go in his place? God the Father and Jesus both knew what the future would hold. God still sent Him, and Jesus still came.

The Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last, the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords would come and be born in a manger to a carpenter and his wife. He would leave the Throne of Glory to be born where no human would choose. Knowing full well that when His time came He would be crucified for humanities sin. None of which were His. Not only did He leave His rightful place at the right hand of the Father but there would be further separation when the wrath of the Father was poured out for OUR sins on Him.

About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” – which means, “Lord, Lord, why have you forsaken me?”Matthew 27:46 (NIV).

To think we could send one of our children to die for something he was not guilty of is so foreign to being a parent. We are filled with anger, and rightly so, when we hear of a parent mistreating, abusing or even worse, killing their own children. It seems to be inherent to protect our children.

But then we recognize those that serve, whether in law enforcement, first responders, military, missionaries or just your average individual, that have given their lives for others. For us. I don’t think it is something they set out to do, but when faced with that decision, they put others ahead of themselves. And that is the very heart of service, the very core of being a follower of Christ.

Greater Love

God sent Jesus and Jesus came knowing full well all that would lay before Him. He knew every insult and agony that would be His, and His alone. Knowing all of that, God still sent Him and Jesus still came, suffered, died and rose again because of the Fathers and the Sons great love for all of us.

I am humbled, and at the same time proud, that two of my sons have chosen to serve their country and the other seeks to serve in law enforcement. I pray that they follow the path God has for them, that they take Jesus with them, for their safety and that they become better men than their earthly father.

I am thankful for those who have served and sacrificed, thankful for those who currently serve and especially thankful for those, who in a world full of self-centeredness, choose to serve in the future. It is not what we get in life that is important, it is what we give and leave behind that matters.

Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all.” Mark 9:35 (NIV).

Most of all, I am thankful for a Heavenly Father who loves us more than we can fathom and for Jesus, who loves us so much He was willing to leave the Father, take the punishment for our sin and die the death that we are due. But it doesn’t end there. That love conquered the grave and death and He was resurrected to life on the third day. Allowing us the opportunity to not only have eternal life but join Him in service to others. We are called to bePARTICIPANTS not spectators.

Which one are you?

Run to the Cross!
Hugh

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