The gift of being able to sit around with your friends and family on a beautiful day, appreciating your country is priceless.
Men died for that. They are in the eternal places, unable to return but leaving a legacy of freedom and safety in their wake.
We need to guard that safety and freedom. We need to never take it for granted. It can be taken away so easily, it is mind-boggling.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier has this great line in it: after Nick Fury rebukes Cap for not "getting with the game" he unveils a top secret triumvirate of flying heli-carriers, each with the stunning firepower to level entire cities in seconds. They are to "stop threats before they start" - a pre-emptive strike force to be sent to protect America's freedom.
Cap points over his shoulder at the behemoths and replies, "This isn't freedom. This is fear."
Yeah it is.
But whose fear? Is it the terror of the victims who cannot hide nor defeat the juggernauts unleashed upon them? Or is the fear of the unknown, of losing power and control? Is it the fear of the victim or of the perpetrator?
I'm no zen Buddhist nor anything like, but when I fantasize about utterly destroying or humiliating an opponent before he can take a breath, I know I am not operating in a good zone.
I am operating in fear. [Sure, I might be tired and just want the fight over, but that's another blog.]
I don't have an answer to how America can handle all her fears. But as a follower of Christ, I have an example who shows confidence, competence and kindness in one fell swoop.
32They were on their way up to Jerusalem, with Jesus leading the way, and the disciples were astonished, while those who followed were afraid. Again he took the Twelve aside and told them what was going to happen to him.
33 “We are going up to Jerusalem,” he said, “and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will hand him over to the Gentiles, 34 who will mock him and spit on him, flog him and kill him. Three days later he will rise.”
Can you feel it? Jesus is marching straight into the Big City of Powerful People with his ragtag band. The closest are astonished but those behind them were scared--really scared.
They knew it was going to be bad, and Jesus agrees with their concerns. He says "Yep. You got it. Let me spell it out for you: it's gonna get ugly, Ugly, UGLY!"
"But after all of it is done, I will get back up..."
"...from the dead."
That's guts, folks. That tells us Christ knew exactly what was going to happen to Him and never backed down. Never hid from it but marched right into it.
Wow. Yes, He had a purpose, to save us by His death on the cross. We know that. What we blip over because we know the old story is the emotional cost He paid before He got on the cross.
He refused to run, to hide, to slow down. He did not waver but headed right into the Halls of Deceit and Power. They would kill Him for saying He was the "Son of God" and identifying Himself as the "I AM" who confronted Moses in the desert.
Out of love for His Father and for us, He went forward without fear.
I think that's what we like about Captain America: he moves without fear. He's already given up everything for his people; he's not afraid to give more.
He's not going to operate in fear and firepower, but in love and hope.
By the end of the movie, Cap prevails and Fury is proven wrong.
May we be so blessed as to know the love of God and walk without fear to our destinations!