Can you remember the last time someone fixed their eyes on your eyes, grasped your hand, pulled you in a little closer, and…thanked you?
I mean the kind of thanks you could feel coming through like a current.
As if life force was flowing from them to you through their thanks.
I can’t remember the last time anyone thanked me that way.
I have to wonder if I ever did anything worthy of that kind of thanks.
Let’s come back to that in a minute.
Here in the United States, today is Veteran’s Day.
It’s a day to give thanks from the bottom of our hearts to 17.4 million living citizens who risked their lives to protect our country around the world.
Jesus Christ said that the greatest show of love is when a person lays down her or his life for others (Gospel of John 15:13).
Who among us has shown greater love than those who signed over their lives to be given or even given up to protect the rest of us?
So, today, if you know a veteran (and I bet you do), make sure you hold his eyes and his hands for longer than just a moment. And let your thanks pass like a current in a way that he can feel it in the body he risked for you.
Now, back to you and the last time you felt thanked that way.
You may think that you never did anything that measures up to what veterans did.
But a wise veteran will tell you that that is not true.
You see, wise veterans know that they did what they did so that you can do what you do.
Wise veterans know that serving in the military is a high calling; but what makes it a high calling is that it serves an even higher calling.
What is that higher calling?
It’s what you’re doing with your life every day.
It’s what you’re doing with the freedom and the rights that God gives you and our laws recognize and protect.
But it’s not only what you’re making of your life; it’s what you’re sharing of your life.
Veterans set an example for us.
Like veterans, do you use your freedom and your rights to help other people discover and use their own freedom and rights?
Like veterans, do you volunteer to give up some of your freedom and your rights to protect people whose freedoms and rights are in danger?
Like veterans, do you choose to put your life on the line for people for whom danger and want are not a choice?
I don’t know a single veteran who wouldn’t say that if you use your freedom and your rights to do these things, then you are answering an even higher call than military service.
It is not for America’s military, but for America that veterans served.
You are America.
So, the greatest thanks you can give a veteran is not a heartfelt handshake. A fist bump or a vigorous nod will have to do this year anyways.
The greatest thanks you can give a veteran is to follow her example.
Not by joining the military.
But by putting your freedom and your rights on the line in service to others who are struggling. Right in your own community.
It is for your life that veterans risked their lives.
Don’t waste your life by being selfish.
Go do as veterans did.
Whether or not anyone ever thanks you, you will know in your soul that you lived up to a higher calling than even military service.
To all of my family and friends who served in the U.S. military, imagine I’m holding your hand and looking in your eyes right now.
Grace and peace.