"There was a man sent from God, whose name was John."
As a boy, raised in a preacher's home, most of my "real-life" heroes were preachers, missionaries and evangelists. I have to admit that Ronnie Bull, #25 Fullback for the Baylor Bears and Chicago Bears, broke into this line up in the 1960's. But I digress.
I can't say I vividly recall the content of the preaching of men my father had step into his pulpit like Vance Havner, Dr. Culpepper, Bo and Dick Baker, Dr. London (H.B's daddy), W. A. Criswell, Dr. Naylor, and hosts of other lesser known luminaries, as much as I remember their personalities. Some of them were real characters. They were often invited into our home, and I was privileged to stay up late to spend time with them, after the service was over. This was when the real fun began.
Before the night was over, there would always be Southern comfort food, preacher jokes, baptism stories, and wave after wave of joy-filled laughter, leaving people clutching their sides, wiping tears from their eyes, and pounding the table, begging the story teller to stop. Of course he never did. There is no particular story that stands out. You just had to be there. These men loved what they did, and the company that they kept. It was inspiring.
The evening always ended with prayer, solemn handshakes, and promises to stay in touch. These 'behind the scene" or "after the show show" experiences introduced me to a unique band of brothers. Elton Trueblood called it "The company of the committed." To me they were the fraternity of the faithful. I always felt ten feet tall after being allowed to have a glimpse inside the lives of these men God had called "to bear witness of The Light." (John 1:7)
John the Baptist was a forerunner of men like these who gave their lives to tell people about Jesus, and he was given a powerful testimonial by Him. "For I say unto you, Among those that are born of women there was not a greater prophet that John the Baptist, but he that is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he." (Luke 7:28) Band of brothers, indeed.
On this Memorial Day, say a prayer of gratitude for the men and women who have given their lives to secure the freedom of our nation. Don't forget their families who shared their sacrifice by investing their sons and daughters to the cause of liberty. We are in their debt.
Still, there are others who come to my mind on this sacred day. They are the men and women who have gone to nameless places, dark places, hard places to live among thankless people and tell them about The Light of Jesus. They looked at a dark world, and instead of cursing it, they blessed it by lighting a candle with the fire of their love for Jesus. He said, "I am The Way, The Truth, and The Light. No man comes to The Father, but by Me." (John 14:6) Thank God there have been those who believed this and lit it up.
Memorial Day is set aside to remember the ultimate sacrifice made by those who stood in our place to protect us from those who have often sought to enslave a free people. Those who gave their lives to secure our national freedom gave all they had. Still, they could not offer enough of their blood to provide our spiritual freedom. Only Jesus could do that. It is only through His blood that people will ever know eternal security. This is always worth remembering.
On this Memorial Day, say a prayer of thanksgiving for The One, and those who followed His call. They made sure you could face this day knowing, come what may, no one can ever take your ultimate freedom away from you. As the old song says, "Jesus paid it all. All to Him I owe." I am in His debt. How about you?
"You will know The Truth, and The Truth make you free." John 8:32