SERVICE AND SACRIFICE -
By Synthia Esther
He sits in quiet peace and prayerful contemplation, with hazy, aged glazed eyes fixated in deep thought. Memories etched in the deep recesses of his mind as if they were a dream, he now recalls with sudden clarity. In war, there is no time to grieve. In service, duty, and sacrifice to your country, there is not time to question your allegiance. As the years have passed, his uniform has changed from green army camouflage to a worn pair of blue jean overalls. But the Bible he carried then remains as his steadfast resolve, serving as a testimony of faith that has been tested, tried, and proven true.
Like an old treasured friend, the words within its pages remain a constant source of peace while the storm rages on. His withered hands lined with the traces of time, and plagued with the stiff soreness of painful arthritis, turn to the 91st Psalm, which he has memorized by heart. Now more than ever he realizes what service and sacrifice truly mean. For what father would not take the place of his child on the battlefield of war, to end the sacrifice. What mother would not provide the service of protection and take her child's pain as her own. Calvary and the Cross, God the Father and their Son, provide steadfast assurance that the service is worth the sacrifice, and faith is worth the eternal glory of salvation's plan.
The gentle old man knows God the Father understands his grieving heart, pain, and sorrow. Time has a way of bringing the meaning of life in full circle with sharp contrast. The sadness of a loved one's death is made lighter by the birth of another. Wisdom is made known by God through our past mistakes, trial, and error.
Such life lessons are honored, cherished, and deeply understood. It is past pain that provides a canvas for empathy and the hope of a better tomorrow. It is past pain that provides all of humanity life lessons that war itself must not be more horrific than the injustice and crime it seeks to rectify and correct. A tear runs down the father's check as he recites in faith the Psalm that gave him strength, courage, and victory, when the shadow of death stood ever before him.
Psalm 91, He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Allmightly. I will say of the Lord, "He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust." Surely He will save you from the fowler's snare and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. You will not fear the terror of night, nor the plague that destroys at midday.
A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you. You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked. If you make the Most High your dwelling - even the Lord, who is my refuge - then no harm will befall you, no disaster will come near your tent. For He will command His angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
You will tread upon the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent. "Because he loves me," says the Lord, "I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life will I satisfy him and show him my salvation."
A spirit of confidence ushered in by God's word and the power of the Holy Spirit comforts the elderly father's soul. Armed with the word of God he has once again starved his fear and fed his faith. With confident assurance he breaths a sigh of relief knowing his children are depending on the God of their father, reciting the same Psalm when fear looms ever near.
In reverence and awe he rests in God's continual providence and hope, that no matter the threat and outcome of war, his child will ever still, be coming home.
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