Just some early morning thoughts from me to you…
“If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off.”
Matthew 18: 12-13 (NIV)
My Godson, Kevin, is a major (just selected to be pinned Lt. Colonel next year) whose role now in the United States Air Force is to spearhead the effort, along with his counterparts in the other US Armed Services, of finding all those Americans who served our nation and are still missing in action from various wars and conflicts around the world.
It is who we are, and should be, as a nation.
Thinking about that daunting responsibility and commitment of our country to those who served us, a comment I heard years ago came to mind. The best I can remember the statement came from one of a group of retired military officers who had been enlisted to provide television and radio commentary concerning the progress of our troops in Operation Iraqi Freedom a number of years ago.
“The hallmark of the United States Military,” the commentator said, “is that not one be left behind.”
At that particular moment, he was referring to the U.S. Marines’ rescue of seven of our soldiers who were being held as prisoners of war in the town of Samarrah, Iraq, somewhere between Baghdad and Tikrit. He could have been referring to the daring rescue that year in Nasiriya of Jessica Lynch, and the recovery of the life-less bodies of those who had fallen alongside her. He could have been referring to our continuing search for the eighteen still missing from the 1991 conflict, and countless others.
As I thought about the commentator’s words and reflected on the faces of SPC Edgar Hernandez, SPC Joseph Hudson, SPC Shoshana Johnson, PFC Patrick Miller, SGT James Riley, Chief Warrant Officer David Williams and Chief Warrant Officer Ronald Young gracing the screen, who had just been rescued, I also thought of a kidnapped Elizabeth Smart, and of the little child who fell in the Texas well.
I remembered a trapped horse and beached whales, and stranded tornado and hurricane victims, entombed coal miners, and the icy waters of the 14th street bridge plane crash in our Nation’s capital. And my thoughts returned to the day of the attack on our nation at the Twin Towers, the Pentagon and a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. And I remembered the heroic and self-sacrificial efforts of Americans, and committed leaders, in every one of those instances, to rescue them and make sure that “not one be left behind.”
The best of our military, the best of our communities, the best of our families, of our nation, and the very best of America is demonstrated by the sacredness and value we place on human life exemplified by the never-ending commitment—that not one be left behind. And we are reminded of that at times, and plucked from the comfort and occasional self-centeredness of our daily lives, when others are in need and suffer around us.
Unfortunately, we’ve fallen short of that standard at times. But in our best moments, under our best leaders, most of us as a nation, understand the commitment that no one is left behind. It matters. We go and we rescue and, at times, we recover, those left behind. But we go. It is what makes us truly a special land and is what energizes us to continue to reach out, and often reach down, not only to save, but to improve the lives of those around us who are lost, down on their luck, or just need a lift up to catch a glimpse of the sunshine there for all of us which is always just beyond the rain.
As I remember the words of that commentator, and the faces of all those who at one time or another were lost or in need around us, I was reminded of the words of Christ set out above. And I thought of many of you, reaching out and down, and at times being reached for in a moment of your need.
I don’t know what’s going on in your life today, but I want you to remember that no matter where you are, perhaps “somewhere you’ve never been before”, no matter how lost you may feel, perhaps like one of those seven rescued mentioned above, no matter what you may be facing, remember that there are those around you who care and will reach out to you, and whom you can reach out to for help, encouragement and guidance.
But even more than that, remember that the God who created you, and loves you, is always reaching out to you, always after you, and will “never leave you behind.”
In His Name—Scott
Copyright 2016. Scott L. Whitaker. All rights reserved.