The United States entered World War II when I was 6 and ended when I was 11. So I only have a child’s view of it. But, I do remember the commitment of our nation when we decided go to war. It was full throttle, peddle-to-the-metal. Patriotism was the theme of the times. We were over the top patriotic—if that is possible. For example, there is a little unincorporated community in the northwest corner of our county called Cairo. It is at the corner of two county roads (N100W and W850N).
I’m sure Cairo had no more than four houses at the time. It also had a wooden tower like you might see in a national forest preserve to lookout for forest fires (it is marked with a monument now). What was the tower in Cairo used for? To spot enemy airplanes, of course. Old timers told me it was manned 24/7. Go ahead and laugh, but you have to agree—that’s commitment to a cause.
Other signs of the times were the military draft and songs. Young men 17 and over were drafted into one of the five branches of the military. They were told that their service obligation would be “for the duration, plus six months.” One of the songs from WW I that carried over to WW II was “Over There” written by George M. Cohan. The message was, “send the word, over there…that the Yanks are coming, the Yanks are coming…and we won’t come back…’til it’s over, over there”. They indeed did go over there and put a stop to Hitler’s atrocities. No wonder these young men and women are still referred to as the Greatest Generation.
As soldiers of Christ, what is our tour of duty? The duration of the spiritual war we fight is the remainder of our earthly life and then comes the time of peace in eternity. So what are we to make of this? For one thing, while we may retire from our remunerative endeavors (actually, even that that is a rather new concept), we are never to retire, take a vacation or even a day off from serving our Lord. Of course, we may take a vacation or a day off occasionally—but, even when we do we are still on a wartime footing. As our beloved Pastor Goode used to say, “We never earn the right to be useless.”
Lamentations 3:22-23 says, “The Lord’s loving kindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail. They are new every morning;…” What are we to do with the “loving kindnesses” and “compassions” that our Lord gives us anew every morning, but to serve Him and those He loves? I love the teaching we get every week at Faith Church. But the one I look forward to the most is the sermon Pastor Steve preaches on the first Sunday of the year where he lays out our annual theme, what will be added, what will be changed, where we are going next. When I hear that message my heart swells in my soul and I want to jump up, pump my fist in the air and yell, “YES!” But, of course, I’m a Baptist, so I wouldn’t do that.
However, I will gather what is left of my aging strength and stretch it as far as I can. And I will try to develop the new areas of strength that the Lord is giving me. I am convinced that if God is going to give us new “loving kindnesses” and “compassions” every morning, He will also give us new (and different) strengths to use them.
And I will continue to marvel at what the Lord has done for Faith in the past and how He has brought many younger men and women with gifts and abilities to the fight that will more than make up for the waning strengths of my generation. When I cross the finish line I do not want to see the Lord check the box on my personnel record sheet that says, “Met Minimum Requirements.”