MY PERSPECTIVE, Gary Damron
Last week we visited my brother-in-law who shared a book written about prisoners of war in Germany during World War II. One chapter was about his uncle Harry Rorabaugh, a young man from Pennsylvania who didn’t tell his story until more than five decades later. By then he’d married, raised a family, worked a job, and decided the world needed to hear the account.
Also last week we handed a memorial service over to God, as we also handed over a friend and neighbor who’d died too young. Whether we’re 55 or 101, life on earth is short compared to eternity. Earthly bodies wear out, some faster than others. Her classmates and family stood to tell of the work she’d done, “the best homemade ice cream” that she made, and especially her care for others.
Monday was Memorial Day, and in the church we visited, a moving tribute was given for those who served in the military. A US Army veteran was present, and the pastor interviewed him. It seemed nearly everyone knew Bill as the greeter at Wal-Mart, but few appeared to know about his time as a child in a Japanese prison camp in the Philippines. As a young a child he’d witnessed his father’s killing and endured hardships at the hands of their captors.
Paul wrote, “We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.
We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed” (2 Corinthians 4:7-9).
The pastor Sunday reminded us from Hebrews 12, of a “great cloud of witnesses” who went before, paving the way and showing us how to live. In chapter 11 we read of Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham and Sarah and down through their generations, “who by faith conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from weakness were made strong, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight…”. One phrase reads, “of whom the world was not worthy” (Hebrews 11:4-38).
Hearing stories of valor may make most of us feel inadequate. James the brother of Jesus wrote, “Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow” (James 1:17). When we mess up, we need to remember God gives good gifts and intends even better for us.
The “Gospel in a nutshell” is found in Ephesians 2:4-8. “But God, being rich in mercy, because of his great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with him, and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come he might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith.”
During this week of memorials, may we give thanks more than we gripe. May we resolve to walk in God’s ways. And may we teach our children, grandchildren and anyone coming along afterward the things we’ve already learned, so they may cultivate a personal relationship with God and leave a memorial for others.