"These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates. When the Lord God brings you into the land he swore to you your fathers...houses filled with all kinds of good things you did not provide , wells you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves you did not plant - then when you eat and are satisfied, be careful that you do not forget the Lord, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery." Deuteronomy 6:6-12 (emphasis mine)
How many times in the Old Testament do we read about God's children getting themselves into deep, deep trouble, crying out to Him and being rescued and delivered, only to turn their backs on him when things got better? Over and over again. They were a forgetful lot, weren't they?
This scripture passage illustrates that. God was going to deliver on His promise to them to enter the promised land and they would benefit not only from the work that had been done there - wells, vineyards, buildings - but from the sacrifices of those who had fought and died to secure the land - people who had live and died a generation before them. People who would never reap the benefits and rewards of their own sacrifice.
Why was remembering so important? Now as then we remember because we owe so much - to God and to those who put on a uniform every day and stand in the gap to obtain and secure the very freedoms we take for granted every day.
By remembering we are also teaching another generation about what has gone before and why we live as we do.
I'll bet you remember exactly where you were on the morning of September 11, 2001.
Do you have children who don't remember that day? Children born close to or after that day will live their entire lives in a world that didn't exist prior to that day. Do they need to know why their country has been at war for their entire lives? Absolutely!
Do we as individuals and as a country need to remember the horror of that day - the sick numbness we all felt as we watched the towers get hit and fall over and over again. The anger. The fear. The uncertainty of what would come next. The waiting - what would the next target be?
Churches all across the nation opened their doors to accept the flood of shell-shocked mourners desperate to find a center again, desperate to find God again after such a monstrous reminder of how little we actually control.
How quickly those churches emptied. How quickly we lost the urgency of the moment and returned to life as it was. How quickly we forgot.
People haven't changed that much since the Old Testament. We are quick to call on God, or the military, or law enforcement when our lives or property or even our tranquility is threatened. We demand that they do something to fix our little corner of the world again - whatever the cost to them, and when the crisis is over we dismiss them, not wanting to see them again until the next crisis.
How arrogant. How selfish. How thoughtless. How ungrateful.
As we remember and honor those who have died and those who still serve, let's take something from their example.
Let's remember that taking a stand for what we believe in every day is important: at work, at home, at school, in politics, in church.
It matters that we stand in the gap, holding ourselves and others accountable, speaking out against what is wrong, and for right. It matters.
We owe so much to the men and women in uniform. They fight for us and for others. Let's honor them today and every day by following their brave example. Take a stand. Today. Right where you are.
Where has God placed you? Are you willing to take a stand for Him? Will you risk ridicule or condemnation? What about outright hostility?
Will you remember what happens when we decide to forget?
"...be careful that you do not forget..."
To all those who serve:
THANK YOU. WE WILL NOT FORGET!