One scene haunts me every Veterans Day. It’s fictional but so poignant. Tom Hanks plays a dying Captain Miller in “Saving Private Ryan,” the movie that chronicles D-Day and the many difficult days that followed. Miller is mortally wounded after tracking down a young private and working to bring him home to a mother who has already been notified that her sons have been killed in battle. The young private is stunned as he sees Miller’s life slowly ebbing away, until Miller says the core line of the movie: “Earn this.”
The reality is that none of us can ever “earn” that kind of sacrifice. We can try with our best citizenship, but we cannot truly earn the sacrifice made by so many during so many conflicts. We CAN honor them. We can walk into the holidays ahead with great thanksgiving. We can treat every veteran as a VIP. With our choices, our integrity, our dedication to be good neighbors, we can honor the freedom that they fought to protect.
This perspective helps me to understand what it means to LIVE and LOVE like Jesus. We don’t do that to earn His sacrifice. But we do that because we trust Him that much. Every day, with every choice, we can honor Jesus’ leadership because of what He faced for us. In fact, he told us what we could do to express our greatest affection toward him: “keep my commandments.” Trust Him enough that you follow what he instructed. it was His gift to us; our obedience is our gift to Him. And He DID earn this!