Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Funeral for an American Hero

I only do a few funerals a year. The amazing Carl Nelson does most of them at Village Seven. Yesterday, I had the privilege of doing the funeral for the father of a member of Village Seven. The man is General David W. Winn. I never met General Winn, but all remember him as a man who loved Christ, his family, and his country. You can read his biography on the link attached to his name. He fought in World War II as well as Vietnam. In Vietnam, he was shot down and spent nearly 5 years as a POW. His cellmate was James Stockdale. In that "prison" (hell hole really is a more appropriate description), he was tortured and suffered greatly. Yet, there in the darkness, he knew God was with him.

In situations like that, men must come to one of two conclusions: 1) There is no God. Therefore, all of my suffering and dedication is meaningliess, or 2) There is a God. Therefore, even in this pit, He is working out His glorious purposes. One must choose either despair or life. One doesn't have the luxury of merely seeking or inquiring. God was gracious to General Winn and opened his eyes to the truth, that God is real and he is at work, even in suffering.

The service was in the Air Force Academy Chapel. This is one of the great architectural structures in the West. Absolutely spectacular. After the service, there was a "fly by" with some F15 fighter jets. The planes came in so low that you could count the bolts on the wings. It felt like an earthquake as they streaked by, setting off all of the car alarms in the parking lot. It was spectacular.

I am thankful for the men and women who have gone before us, and are still fighting now, so that we can enjoy a life of freedom. Many have made amazing sacrifices and endured unspeakable horrors so that we can live in peace.

I am also thankful that, for those who trust in Christ, our suffering is not in vain. God has a purpose even for our pain. Life is not meaningless, but is a glorious story being told by God moving to a marvelous "happily ever after."

At the same time, events like this, as well as the recent events in Fort Hood, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan remind us that we live in a world that is broken. As long as there is evil present, there will be a need for warriors like General Winn. Yet, even more, these events should cause us to long for the day when Isaiah 9: 5 comes true - "Every warrior's boot used in battle and every garment rolled in blood will be destined for burning, will be fuel for the fire." We long for the day when "He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore" (Isaiah 2:4). That day will come. It is certain because God has decreed it. May it come soon.