Several years ago I watched a miniseries called ‘Band of Brothers’ that tells the story of the U.S. Army’s Easy Company during World War II. It is such a well done film all around, from the cast and characters to the presentation of soldier life in the European Theatre during the war. The series consists of ten episodes based on the testimonies of actual Easy Company members compiled with research. The episodes detail battle moments as well as the hardships these men faced during Easy Company’s entire trek across Europe. Frostbite, hunger, injuries, missing loved ones, witnessing their friends killed on the battlefield. I cannot imagine the experience these men had in real life, and none of us really could who were not there. Personally, though, the thing this movie had me thinking about the most was the insight into the motives of the men who fought. In the 21st century, we have so much information about the events and horrors of that time that the fighting makes perfect sense to us. An enlisted man in the 1940’s, however, did not have access to all of the knowledge we have now. They knew about German aggression in Europe and the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, of course, but they were ignorant of the truly monstrous things going on under Hitler and the Third Reich. In the series Band of Brothers, it isn’t until episode 9 of 10, after several years’ journey from England to Normandy and then fighting through France that the American soldiers cross over into Germany and come upon a concentration camp in Germany, shocked to discover that the starving and pathetic prisoners were not criminals but Jews and Gypsies. The episode is called ‘Why We Fight.’
I am so thankful that the script of my life did not have me waiting until my last days before I learned the reason why I should do what I do. My pastor gave a great sermon on Sunday covering Matthew 6:1-18 – Seeking the smile of God over the Applause of men. It is hard for me to do it justice with a quick summary, but essentially Jesus is telling us it is okay to be motivated by Heavenly rewards because God gets pleasure out of rewarding His children (see Luke 12:32-34, Hebrews 11:6, and Matthew 6:19-21). Note that it is heavenly rewards we seek through diligent service on earth, nothing earthly or material, and certainly not the approval of men. Also, please know that this is not about working to get into heaven. None of us are capable of that. There is nothing we could do to get there – Jesus did it all. This is about after we have surrendered our lives to God, and not settling for a shack in heaven – for the least of what He is offering.
Does this mean if we are foreign missionaries we get a better zip code in eternity? I don’t think so. As a stay at home mom whose travel destinations usually include a grandparent and not necessarily a third world country, I certainly hope that this is not a criteria. I believe we are all called to ‘go’ in the name of God, but where each of us is supposed to ‘go’ depends on Him. Not that I don’t want to get out to as many nations as possible someday or am justifying rejecting a foreign opportunity for the security of home, but I am also confident that God gave us this place and this life right here and now for a reason. I don’t want to miss the mission here in my backyard because I’m too busy pining for faraway places. (For the record, my backyard is almost 2000 miles away from the place of my birth. Does that count just a little?)
Lost people are lost people, whether they are starving in AIDS infested African villages or deliriously ignorant in suburbia. It might seem more attractive to reach one people group because we can work through their physical needs, but we also need to take up the challenge to reach people whose material needs are met and so they don’t think they need anything, but they are missing everything!
If I haven’t lost you somewhere in my film review or my mission preaching, I’ll try to make some sense of what I am trying to express. (I haven’t blogged in FOREVER, I might have forgotten how!!) As the last weeks of summer have dwindled down and we are facing getting back into our routine, I have gotten a little down-hearted. Why do we do all this? What purpose am I serving? What kind of legacy will I leave? Does it make a difference if my kids play soccer, take ballet, have a PTO mom? None of these things seem important in the big scheme of things. However, who I am to say what God can make important, as long as I do everything to serve and glorify Him. I mean, He is Almighty God. If people can see Him through me, then it is bound to be important. Period.
‘So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.’ (1 Cor 10:31) If we can honor God with something like our meals, then how much more so in the way we interact with our neighbors, the service we do for those around us, the way we lead our families. Actually, we can incorporate food into a lot of these things. Sorry…I’m a Baptist and a southerner, we just love food. We live life, knowing in the end it’s about pleasing our Heavenly Father and honoring His sacrifice for us, and not about human recognition. (Not even from other Christians, although we should certainly encourage one another. ) In Band of Brothers the advertisement tagline for the series said ‘There was a time when the world asked ordinary men to do extraordinary things.’ Well, we are all pretty ordinary. But, we have a God who is extraordinary, and he will use us to do amazing things everyday if we are willing to serve Him. It is why we should do whatever it is we do.
Footnote: If you love studying WWII experiences like I do, read Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand. An amazing true story, a wonderful uplifting ending, I highly recommend!