“How can anything be so thrilling and yet so sobering?”
This question was repeated minute by minute in my heart as Jim and I celebrated yet another military change of command yesterday for a dear friend and neighbor. The parade ground was packed with troops in formation–troops who had been standing there for well over an hour before the ceremony even began.
Flags representing our nation, the State of Hawaii, and every unit that serves and deploys from this U.S.Army base were whipping in the trade winds that nipped at the miles and miles of acreage that make up the famous Schofield Barracks. The ragged peaks of the Koolau mountains reached majestically heavenward as the backdrop behind the parade grounds as a tropical sun beamed down on all present.
There we sat in reserved seats under one of the many awnings set up around the platform where four U.S. Army officers and commanders were coming and going, changing and receiving new responsibilities in 13 time zones, 9 countries, and 4 states.
I admit I was overwhelmed as I read the biographies and heard the introductions of each of the four officers, including my friend Patricia. Their lives have been spent in universities, specialized schools, training centers, and multiple deployments. They have faithfully poured their time into study and training to equip and mature themselves for greater usefulness. Their families who had also sacrificed, were there–spouses, children from teens to newborns. Then there were their parents, siblings, grandparents, and friends who had gathered from around the world to celebrate and take part in honoring and supporting the commitment their loved ones have made to serve our country.
Sitting there in the visitor’s reviewing stands, I couldn’t help but be greatly convicted about my own commitments. These officers and their soldiers had committed themselves to giving their lives, if necessary, to defend our country. What was I committed to? And how seriously? How deeply? How fervently? What commitments could–and should–I be making for my Lord and His Kingdom program? What commitments could–and should–I be making to my family and friends, my church?
I had to ask myself, am I increasing in my study of the Bible, purposefully choosing to grow as I serve the Lord and His people? Am I competent? Am I faithful? Am I committed to keep advancing as a child of God? Is there any “sacrifice” involved at all?
And what does an evaluation of how I spend my time reveal–about sacrifice, about commitment, about dedication? About purpose and focus? About my goals?
You can probably tell by now that, when Jim and I walked away from that ceremony, I–and I think Jim too–came away thrilled with all of the tradition and proud of the determination of these troops, but also sobered with the reality of what it means and looks like to be truly committed to something, a cause, a creed, a country—a set of beliefs.
Question: How does seeing someone else display a fervent commitment inspire you to do the same?