Can you believe that Memorial Day Weekend is already upon us?! Summer begins and this week it got a head start here in Florida with the temperature warming up and the humidity rising. A new season is upon us!
This weekend is always bittersweet for me. It will be the 3rd Annual Jeffers/Ritchie Family Reunion where my children and my wife’s brother’s family all descend upon the Jeffers Inn. It is bittersweet because every year on this weekend we commemorate our wonderful fallen military and their precious families, my family is personally reminded of our personal sacrifice. On September 19, 2007, Sergeant Eddie Jeffers died on an Iraqi desert floor, no longer dirty, tired, and scared; forever in the presence of his King Jesus.
My family rejoices in that and still, without saying it, we each notice someone is missing from the reunion. But being the man on point Eddie always was, he’s paved the way to Heaven and is awaiting our arrival. I can’t wait for that great reunion where we will no doubt see that big toothy grin of his.
Last year my girls and son-in-law surprised me with a flag that my friend and Congressman Jeff Miller had flown over the Capitol building on Eddie’s birthday last year. When I read the official papers and looked at that flag, my heart literally exploded within me with joy and such a sense of honor and love that my children had bestowed upon me. I openly wept as I am doing as I type this.
Karen and I have met some wonderful people through the life and death of Eddie. That story alone makes a book I hope to one day write. One of those people we got to meet was Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. We meet with him for two hours in his private chambers:
Prior to meeting Justice Thomas he sent me a personalized copy of his memoirs, “My Grandfather’s Son.”
While I won’t share all that he wrote, Justice Thomas did quote Abraham Lincoln from his Gettysburg Address, writing that Eddie had “given the last full measure.” Justice Thomas also told us that every year before they go on recess, he takes his staff to Gettysburg so they can fully understand the cost of freedom. That’s one trip I still need to make.
War is an ugly thing, such an unnecessary evil. At least that’s what we say. But it is not true. It is a necessary evil because we must always deal with evil. We may never compromise with evil nor should we pick the lesser of two evils.
So many anti-war protestors live in the world of should, the world of make believe where they believe that we can have peace on earth without the Prince of Peace.
So many socialists believe government is the answer to mankind’s problems when the One of whose shoulders the government will one day be on has yet to come to earth to rule.
We seek man for counsel without ever seeking the One known as Wonderful, Counselor.
Do this words look familiar? Oh yeah, it’s from Handel’s Messiah, man I love that song! Very good, but from where did those words come? That’s right, Isaiah 9. I want us to look at the totality of that section of Isaiah where he prophesizes about the government of the Promised Son:
“Nevertheless the gloom will not be upon her who is distressed, as when at first He lightly esteemed the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, and afterward more heavily oppressed her, by the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, in Galilee of the Gentiles. The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them a light has shined. You have multiplied the nation and increased its joy; they rejoice before You according to the joy of harvest, as men rejoice when they divide the spoil. For You have broken the yoke of his burden and the staff of his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, as in the day of Midian. For every warrior’s sandal from the noisy battle, and garments rolled in blood, will be used for burning and fuel of fire. For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.” (Isaiah 9:1-7)
We talk about how our current government is a burdensome yoke upon our shoulders oppressing our liberties as free citizens, and rightfully we should. Our nation was founded not by the Declaration of Independence or our wonderful Constitution but by the split blood and sacrifices of patriots who took up arms against oppression.
That is why we commemorate our fallen heroes on Memorial Day.
But even in times when America was at her greatest, we as a people, as is the case for all peoples of the world, we each face a greater oppression and burdensome yoke. It is sin and as the Apostle Paul told the Roman Church:
“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)
That gift of God cost Him His only begotten Son. You see, just as American patriots have always had to spill their blood for liberty, Jesus had to spill His precious blood to pay our sin debt. On the last night of Jesus’ earthly life, He told His disciples:
“Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” (John 15:13)
We instinctively feel a great sense of gratitude whenever we meet a war veteran or if we visit a war cemetery. The price paid for our liberty stands right before. Only the calloused soul and hardened heart cannot feel gratitude for the blood split on mostly foreign shores.
That feeling and so much more is what a person feels when they finally come into the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ and understand not only the ravages of the tyranny of sin upon their very souls, but the amazing grace and cost shed through the blood spilled on Calvary.
Justice Thomas honored my family by recognizing Eddie and my family’s sacrifice as giving the last full measure. I pray you will not forget that this weekend amongst all the fun and food.
And I fervently pray that if you have not already come to understand the greatest example of giving the last full measure, that you will look to the Cross and the Empty Tomb and understand, confess and surrender to, and invite into your heart the Lord Jesus Christ.
May the Lord richly bless and keep you and I pray you have a wonderful long weekend. Please remember to go to church on Sunday.
The Lord willing we’ll meet again on Tuesday.
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Copyright © 2011 David Jeffers