Friday, June 1, 2012

Every Stone Holds A Story

Over Memorial Day weekend, my husband and I went to visit Jefferson Barracks in St. Louis. What a humbling experience to pull into a cemetery, holding white grave stones,  that seems to go as far as the eye can see. We would drive through slowly reading over the names on the tombstones. Then we would stop every so often and get out and walk a bit. There are tombstones from the Civil War where you find "Unknown Soldier" engraved.

As I brushed my hand over the top it hit me that this man or woman served and no one knows who or what they did, but their service still today has lasting impact. How many times do we wish to be recognized for our service? How many times do we wish to see our name in lights or just wish someone realized what we did on a daily basis? It gave me a new perspective on serving. My service should be in light of where God calls me and I should be willing to give all for Him no matter the cost. No matter if anyone here on earth ever knows what I have done, He knows. Isn't that really all that matters?

As I looked out across the cemetery my mind came to two thoughts. Each person placed here holds a story. A story worth being told. A story of life and giving. Some of the men and women here died in battle at a young age. Others lived on after battle to live long lives. For me, each gravestone was just as important as the next. Each life held purpose and beauty. I found myself reading their information and wondering what life was for them. When they came home were they welcomed?

My second thought was, "Did they know Christ during their life? Did He stand in battle with them? Did they look to Him for strength and guidance?" As this question came to mind I looked across the cemetery and realized as the evening sun shone down, each tombstone cast a shadow. Each life here made an impact. Each life, whether they knew the Lord or not, gives testimony of life lived in service. God can move through us whether we ever choose to know Him personally or not. Now, how much greater of an impact could one make on another if the Lord was present? The difference would be monumental.

I just found myself so grateful. As thankfulness washed over me, tears streamed freely. Freely at the cost and what others gave so that my life could be as it is today. How often do we give thanks to these men and women? How often do we just see this day as a holiday weekend for a party and gathering of family and friends? We hit the river in our boat, we get the BBQ fired up, and we gather our coolers close. This was a day that made a valuable impact on m life. I too often miss the mark and I don't see beyond my own life. That is a tragedy in itself.

As my husband and I walked through, these green covered fields, on this heated and windy evening, there were flags that were misplaced and fallen. Some how that grabbed at my heart too. I thought about each war and the reasons behind it. But did these men and women reason as they signed up to serve or did they simple serve with grateful hearts and a passion to bring about change? Are we missing that today? I know I am. I seem to take so much for granted and I think that's why walking through these shadowed gravestones touched my heart so much.

As we reached those misplaced flags, we gathered them up and placed them upon the facing of the gravestone. You could see others doing the same. The cemetery was beginning to fill as we were readying to leave. You could see some were family members, placing flowering wreaths, upon the graves of those they now long for. Just a touch, a giggle and another hello. Some were like us. Just coming in to show respect and to learn more about those who gave all.

Each as of these men and women have left behind a legacy. You and I will also leave behind a story, a shadow if you will. With Christ as my Savior, I will one day stand before Him. I hope I can stand before Him knowing I have used every gift and treasure up to it's fullest. Not leaving behind one blessing that could have touched another. Might we live without regret and without fear. Grabbing hold of our freedoms and reaching for the stars with all Christ has given us. Giving Him grand glory and honor through our surrendered lives that cast a glow of all He created us to be.

This was such a great time of reflection for me. Looking out beyond myself and seeing people from every walk of life who served their country with pride. They made a choice to fight for a cause near and dear to them. In this vast field of men and women, lie a great man among them. My husband's uncle, Lloyd. My father in law served in the Army and his brothers all served in different wars. Fighting for different causes, but all hoping for the same result. Peace and change. My husband has been blessed to hear their stories of wartime. He too has heard their stories of faith.  What a blessing for him to be able to pass down such heritage to our son and share with him those in the family who were willing to serve and give of themselves.

I think that seeing so many from all walks of life. All heritages and different faiths. Now all here gathered in one place. On many of the Jewish gravestones people had come to lay a stone of remembrance. Just a little smooth rock, layed in place,  to show they had been there. This is one of those historical places where we can go to reflect on our life and the lives of others. It is through the lives of others that we can learn great lessons about ourself. We can see courage and honor at every eye turn. May we never forget to pass down the stories of those who have come before us. Might we be even more inspired to pray and encourage those who are serving today.


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