Before the coronavirus, Memorial Day meant a day off, maybe staying at home, relaxing, grilling out with neighbors, family, and friends.
Since the coronavirus, “being home” is more like “being stuck at home.” So perhaps we can redeem this day by recapturing the essence of Memorial Day: honoring those who, out of love of country, sacrificed their lives on our behalf.
Years ago, Chuck Colson honored Memorial Day by telling this story of sacrificial love:
It was February of 1945—three months before the end of World War II in Europe. Eighteen-year-old Sergeant Joseph George of Waynesboro, Pennsylvania, was stationed in Lorient, France. It was evening, and George was preparing to go on patrol.
Sergeant George had been on patrol duty the night before. As he told his friend, Private James Caudill, he was tired—tired and scared. Private Caudill offered to take the patrol on his behalf. He pointed out that, at age 36, he was nearly two decades older than George. He told George—who had already been blown off a torpedoed ship in the English Channel—“You’re young. Go home. Get married. Live a rich, full life.” And then Private Caudill went out on patrol. A few hours later, he was killed by a German sniper.
The actions of Private Caudill echo the values and valor of generations of military men and women we remember today.
So what of Sgt. Joseph George? He returned safely home. He married, fathered five sons. One of them—Princeton Professor Robert George—is a good friend of mine. He’s devoted much of his life to fighting the moral evils of our time: abortion, embryo-destructive research, and efforts to redefine marriage in a way that would destroy it.
In John 15:13, Jesus said, “Greater love has no man than this, that [he] lay down his life for his friends.” The story of Private Caudill and Sergeant George makes one realize more deeply what a tremendous gift this is.
Chuck reminds us that Memorial Day is really about love. Love of country, love of others. Sacrificial love. This week, Module 2 of the Truth.Love.Together virtual event answers the question, “What is Love?” Here’s a brief clip from the amazing Joni Eareckson Tada, talking about the only love that defines all other loves: the love of God…
The love of God cost something.
I recall decades ago when I was in the hospital lying in bed paralyzed. I was so depressed. My mother would stand by the guard rail of that hospital bed for hours on end holding books up so that I could read them. . . Those sacrificial hours my mother spent by my bedside. It displayed a far deeper love than I ever imagined.
I think that is such a sweet picture of the love of God and its greatness, all because of what it costs. What it cost Him, His precious Son… So you have to think: What could God the Father possibly prize so much that it would be worth assigning His own dear Son to brutal torture?
What could possibly be worth the excruciating death of the apple of His eye?
How about your salvation and mine?
… The measure of God’s love is clearly stated in Ephesians 5:2. Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us. There you have it.
Because today, Memorial Day is about sacrifice, it is, ultimately, about love. The rest of Joni’s presentation on “The Love of God, or, How We Know What Love Is” is available, today, in Module 2 of the Truth.Love.Together event at Conference.ColsonCenter.org. It’s free along with the rest of the event, which includes 20 other wonderful Christian thinkers and speakers.
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