A Salute to Veterans of Two Sorts
by Roger Palms
My Uncle Bill was crouching against a wall in a small village in France. It was late summer, 1944. Next to him an army buddy was also hunched down. Suddenly the other man pitched forward and my uncle scrambled over the wall. A sniper had shot the soldier who was crouched next to my uncle.
Uncle Bill said, "That sniper made a choice. It could have just as easily been me who was killed. After that, I realized that each day I lived was a gift." He died at age 92, always aware of each day "after that."
No matter the war, veterans who have been in combat, who have seen buddies killed, understand the feeling that, "It could have been me." They know the feeling of living "after that." But so do the rest of us who belong to the Savior. We, too, who are in a different kind of war, understand that we live in a time called "after that."
Jesus taught, "I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more" (Luke 12:4).
If it is true that I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live, yet not I but Christ lives in me (see Galatians 2:20), then I am already dead and am now alive "after that."
In Christ, my life is not my own. In Christ, nothing can destroy me. In Christ, I have eternal life. I am living in the time of "after that."
We Are "After That" People
Jesus spoke of two roads. One leads to life and light. The other road leads to destruction and death (Matthew 7:13). Every person is on one or the other of those roads. I used to think in terms of two separate and distinct roads. But now I'm wondering if the two roads are not so separate. The broad road leading down to death and destruction is crowded. The narrow road is not crowded and may run in the opposite direction right up through the middle of that broad road. We who are on that road know that we are moving against the rushing tide. It's not easy to stay on that narrow road. The crowds coming at us from the opposite direction can easily sweep us onto the broad road with them.
We who travel the narrow road are different. Peter tells us, ""But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God" (1 Peter 2:9). And we read, "Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God" (1 Peter 1:10).
Christians Are All Veterans
Military veterans come home from war, and their families rejoice that they made it through. They did their duty, they fought their figh,t and they came home safely. We who are in Christ are all veterans of another kind of war. We will someday arrive home from the fight. The battles we faced as believers, the struggles we went through, were overcome because we knew who we were, to whom we belonged, and who fought beside us.
Like my Uncle Bill, we aren't the same people anymore. We face each day as "after that" people. We are veterans who are fully aware that theGod who gave us new life, a second birth, has helped us to live out that life with all of its struggles in the certainty that we are no longer our own—certainly not "After That."
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