Memorial Day is a special day in this country. It is a day we pause to honor those who have fallen in service to our nation, protecting our rights and defending our freedom. It is also a day to remember those in our own families who have passed on from this life.
For the Christ-follower, Memorial Day should also be a day we consider the death of Jesus on the cross. It should be a day to honor his sacrifice for us so that we might be truly free – free from the grips of hell. In my tradition we honor this each week by partaking of the Lord’s Supper, a time to commemorate the death that Jesus suffered for each of us. In Jesus’ death he paid the price for our sins and offered a path to God through his blood. When we believe in Jesus’ life-saving death on the cross, we are given eternal life with him.
So today, take time. Take time to pause and reflect on Jesus and what his sacrifice means for you personally and for the lives of those family members who have gone before you. And take time to remember the soldiers, men and women, who have given their lives so that we can live in a country where we can freely talk about and worship Jesus. Without their sacrifice we would not be free to do so; but Jesus’ sacrifice is what truly makes us free.
I have been fortunate to have many people in my life who have loved me unconditionally. One of those people was my grandma, who we called “Batsa”. Batsa was the best kind of grandma I could have ever asked for. She loved my brother and I immensely and would demonstrate that love through many hugs, kisses, and of course, her famous cookies. Even when I moved away to college, she would still bake cookies and mail them to me! She found that packing them in with popcorn kept them from breaking, and even with that added, somewhat odd taste, her cookies were out of this world. Soon my roommates found out what was in the box and I had to start hiding them!
Near the end of Batsa’s life, however, she developed Alzheimer’s. Alzheimer’s is a slowly progressing disease that takes a little bit of a person’s mind at a time until they are literally just a shell of their former selves. To see Batsa go through this terrible disease was one of the worst, most painful things that has ever happened to me and my family. To see her and have her not know me was gut-wrenching and agonizing.
The only thing that got us through that difficult time was knowing that Batsa had a strong faith in Jesus. She knew Scripture well. She had a personal relationship with Jesus. I know that even though Batsa’s mind had gone, Jesus had not. And in those last days before Batsa went to see Jesus, I know that he never left her.
In the midst of her valley – the very shadow of death – though she could not communicate with us, I know she clung to the hope of Jesus – and in her death so did I.
You may be going through your own valley right now. I urge you to cling to the hope of Jesus because with Jesus you can face anything this life throws at you.