I’d been looking for ten days and finally, on my way home from church yesterday, I spotted a couple of cadets, small and tidy in their uniforms, with pans of poppies hung around their necks. I picked a poppy from their tray, slipping a coin into the slotted box.
There was only one more day this year that I could wear the flower before slipping it into my drawer to save for next year, but still it seemed important to buy it.
On this Remembrance Day, I, along with the people of my own nation and those of many others, want to remember the members of our armed forces who have died in the line of duty.
I want to remember their hopes and dreams, their blood-sealed belief that freedom, justice, and peace are worth fighting for.
I want to remember, too, the many who have given their lives in another war and whose voices from under the altar cry for God’s justice (Rev 6:9-11).
I don’t talk often about this war. Mostly I think that's because I find it more helpful to focus on my leader than on the enemy, listening for God’s voice, trusting his love, trying to obey his commands.
But might it sometimes be because I don’t want to remember? Because I’d rather look away from the truth that war is not past tense, nor happening only on the other side of the world?
Whether I like it or not, I, along with every other person in this world, am smack in the middle of a cosmic war that will not end until Jesus returns, taking his rightful place and bringing the true and never-ending freedom, justice and peace for which we long.
"This is no afternoon athletic contest that we’ll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels" (Eph 6:12, The Message).
Life and peace, justice and freedom, are at stake. Focus and obedience matter.
Remembering the reality of slavery and the costly path to freedom is not optional. It is a repeated command, a cornerstone of a well-lived life.
“Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the Lord your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm” (Deut 5:15).
"Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years. . ." (Deut. 8:2).
“Do this in remembrance of me” (I Cor 11:24).
God doesn't command us to remember the reality of the war in order to make us afraid. He calls us to remember in order not to be afraid.
But do not be afraid of them; remember well what the Lord your God did to Pharaoh and to all Egypt" (Deut. 7:18).
I look and remember—yes, there's a war, and I'm in it—and then I look back at the One who has already won the battle at the heart of the war, guaranteeing the war’s final outcome. I don’t need to fear the already conquered enemy, just to do my part in the clean-up operation. The outcome of the war does not rest on my shoulders.
And so I look, not to tremble, but to remember that what I do matters.
I look, not to design my own battle strategy, but to recommit myself to my Leader who conquers death and destruction through love and calls me to join him.
I look, not to gaze at the enemy, but to bow in worship of my loving, victorious King.
“The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah, and he will reign for ever and ever" (Rev. 11:15).