I started Deuteronomy in my morning devotional today. The book begins with “These are the words which Moses spoke to all Israel across the Jordan in the wilderness…” (Deuteronomy 1:1a) What follows is a summarization of the history of the Israelites, including their rebellion against God.
It might seem strange to make the connection between this chapter in Scripture and today’s celebration of Memorial Day, but the connection is there.
Memorial Day was established to remember those who have given their lives to defend our country. In the process we also give a big thank-you to our veterans and current military as well, but the original focus was to honor the fallen. It is a time to remember the cost of our freedom. The cost of where we are today. We celebrate, but we also grieve.
It is the same in our spiritual journey. There are a couple of types of grief in our spiritual journey. Deuteronomy 1 outlines the grief caused by disobedience. Much of what we know and have now is the result of what we have learned from our own failures and the failures of others. But, there is also the grief of the persecuted and the martyred throughout history even up to the present day.
There is not a single Christian in this country who does not owe an enormous debt of gratitude to the fallen. Our military has fallen to defend our rights as a nation. Our Christian brothers and sisters throughout the ages have fallen to give us such things as the treasure of the Bible in our own language.
But we are a forgetful people. We forget the sacrifices. We forget the price for what we have. Just as the Israelites needed the reminder of what had brought them to this point, so we also need the reminder of our history, both as a nation and as a people of God.
Don’t hesitate to stop and remember today. Remember the fallen. Remember your own fight. Remember that God’s hand is in it all, both the joyous and the grievous. And every time you find yourself taking it all for granted, stop and remember again.