On Veterans’ Day this year I had the unusual privilege of welcoming the Governor of the State of Indiana to Lighthouse Christian Academy in Bloomington, IN. Lighthouse is the small, Christian, K-12 school which my children attend. Governor Pence graciously offered to be the keynote speaker at our annual Veterans’ Day ceremony. The governor did not use his platform as an opportunity for politics. Rather, his purpose was to thank the assembled veterans and their families for their service and to call the students in the audience to answer the call to serve their country while they were young. One of the veterans in attendance was a man named Glen Sparks, who did just that, enlisting in the US Army as an 18 year old in 1944. Mr. Sparks was a soldier in WWII and was dropped behind enemy lines to help Allied bombers find their targets. There are not many men like Mr. Sparks left in our world, and I am proud to be his pastor.
As Governor Pence passionately encouraged the young people in attendance to follow the lead of men and women like Glen Sparks, who have sacrificed much to serve the country, I could not help but give thanks not only for our service men and women but for those who have given much to serve Christ and His kingdom as full time missionaries and pastors. It may sound self-serving for a pastor to give thanks for pastors; however, I am not referring to myself but to those who have made significant sacrifices to answer the call of God. I have in mind men and women who have given up income, status, time with their families, comfort, and ease of life in order to minister the gospel to the lost and to prepare the saints for heaven. In the providence of God, you and I would not be where we are today without the sacrifices and ministries of others.
Governor Pence asked us to imagine the veterans among us as young people, commenting that it was when they were young and in the prime of life that they gave up their freedom in order to serve others. On this Thanksgiving Day I encourage you to consider those whom God has used in your life. Reflect on the fact that many of those people gave up their freedom in the days of their youth to pour their lives into the lives of others. Thank God for those who brought you the gospel. Thank God for giving you a Savior, who gave up his youth, his opportunity for worldly greatness, and ultimately his body and soul so that you could have the freedom to serve Him. Let us thank our Savior by praying for those who serve, by imitating them, and by asking God to raise up a new generation of those who will answer the call to serve Him while they are young.
“Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith.” (Hebrews 13:7 ESV)