We can always learn lessons from our veterans

Published 12:00 am Saturday, November 9, 2013

Just mention the word “veteran,” and most people think of a soldier who has served in our country’s armed forces.

Veterans will be honored on Monday, Nov. 11, with a holiday recognizing their contribution to our freedoms. We salute their sacrifices and owe them a debt of gratitude for their service.

To be called a veteran means you stood up for what was right when you were called upon, even though it could have cost you your life. You followed the commands of your officers.

At times you received orders to ship out to “undisclosed locations,” but you obeyed though not knowing where, trusting your commander knew the exact plan. You endured hardship and sometimes fought on foreign fields.

You are an example to a younger generation, who needs to spend time hearing your stories to realize the price of war and peace. Your loyal service to our country preserved the liberty and unalienable rights all Americans enjoy.

A veteran can also be defined as any person old and experienced, or long-practiced. The word is sometimes used as an adjective with other careers.  For instance, someone may be called a veteran legislator.

I think people who have served the Lord for many years could be called veteran Christians. They are the believers who have long-practiced their faith through trials and triumphs.

Maybe we should recognize these Christian soldiers’ service to our churches and their influence on our own Christian lives. Veteran Christians give those of us who are younger an example of how to live for Christ. We need to spend time hearing their personal testimonies of their walk with God.

There’s a song entitled, “Find Us Faithful,” that says, “We’re pilgrims on the journey of the narrow road, and those who’ve gone before us line the way; cheering on the faithful, encouraging the weary. Their lives a stirring testament to God’s sustaining grace.

“Oh may all who come behind us find us faithful.  May the footprints that we leave, lead them to believe and the lives we live inspire them to obey.  Oh may all who come behind us find us faithful.”

Though we cannot speak to him now, we can read the words of one veteran Christian in the Bible. The Apostle Paul told a young man named Timothy to endure hardship like a good soldier of Jesus Christ who wants to please his commanding officer (2 Timothy 2:3-4).  Paul instructs us to put on the full armor of God, which covers the front of us spiritually with no cover for retreat (Ephesians 6:11-12).

Paul suffered greatly for the sake of the Gospel.  He was beaten, stoned, shipwrecked, and while imprisoned, wrote letters that we now read in the New Testament (2 Corinthians 11:25-33). At the end of his life, he spoke these words that are a lesson all of us can learn from a veteran, “I’ve fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7).

Jan White is an award-winning religion columnist.  Her email address is jwhite@andycable.com.