I did my Bible reading this morning over a cup of tea. And as God is prone to do, He drew my eye to an interesting verse on this Memorial Day.
“This day shall be for you a memorial day, and you shall keep it as a feast to the LORD; throughout your generations, as a statute forever, you shall keep it as a feast.” -Ex. 12:14, ESV
This command to Moses comes just after the institution of the Jewish Passover festival. But I couldn’t help noticing the miraculous timing of this verse in my life. So I thought, for this Memorial Day when I read about the memorial day of our faith, I would discuss some of the people I personally consider heroes of our faith. Some you will know, some you will not; some are soldiers, some are not; but all are members of the army of our God.
I love Ruth. Let’s just get that out of the way. But there is a very specific reason I put her on this list. Ruth is a hero for us, one to be remembered, because in a time long before the commands of Jesus’ lips, Ruth lived them with her life. At her own risk, she loved her widowed and childless mother-in-law enough to follow her into hostile country. She not only loved someone that much, but she never complained of her harsh treatment by the people of God. Surely, from the example of Naomi and her family, Ruth had learned that the Israelites were the chosen people of God, and their harsh treatment of her didn’t impede her love for them, or Naomi, or God. Ruth is definitely someone to look up to.
Oooh…I just lost some people with that one!!! “Maggie…you making a list about heroes of the faith and you gonna list the man who betrayed the Father of our faith? Giiirrrrl…you trippin!” Here is my theory about Judas: It was a tough job…but someone had to do it. If Judas hadn’t betrayed our Lord, then the plan of redemption wouldn’t have gotten rolling, and you and I would be hopeless. True, God would have made His plans come about regardless, I’m just saying that we owe a debt of gratitude to the ultimate betrayer.
Julia E. Smith
Who? I feel confident you’re asking yourself that right now. Well, it’s the sweet little old lady on the left there; the other is her sister Abby. Julia is important, and should be more well known because of her contribution to the translation of the Bible. Now, I have come to understand the importance of the Bible in our own language through a book titled The Murderous History of Bible Translations and one of the people I learned about was Julia Smith. This amazing woman was born in 1792, and because of a prophetic preacher that everyone was following, Julia decided she needed to understand the Bible for herself. She sat about to translate the Bible from its original languages without knowing any Greek or Hebrew. In 1855 she started learning Greek and teaching herself Hebrew. She had no intention of publishing her translation; it was just for herself. However, after she and her sister Abby experienced misogynist abuse from the men in the local government, she decided she should publish it to show that “the woman who knew not enough to manage what she rightfully and lawfully owned had actually done what no man ever had”. Though few people are familiar with Julia Smith, and though her literal translation of the Bible has not been popular due to its lack of readability, as the first female translator, she paved the way for women to study Scripture. She laid the human foundation for our great women leaders today. Any woman who teaches Sunday school, speaks to crowds, or studies the Bible in the privacy of her own home, owes Julia Smith (and her sister Abby) a debt of gratitude.
Cornelia ” Corrie” Arnolda Johanna ten Boom
Without Corrie ten Boom, I would question the completeness of this list and the competency of the list maker. I’m going to have to keep myself short here, because I could talk about this woman forever. Basically, you either need to see the movie “The Hiding Place” or read the book (or any of her other books). She was a Christian woman living during WWII, whose family hid local Jews in their home when the Nazis patrolled. They were eventually found out, separated, and sent to extermination camps. Corrie and her sister Betsie were blessed to stay together, but she watched her sister die in 1944. Corrie was released 15 days later as the only member of the ten Boom family that would survive the Holocaust. To sum her up (until you can read her story), I’ll share this sentence from her Wikipedia page:
“She returned to Germany in 1946, and met with and forgave two Germans who had been employed at Ravensbruck, one of whom was particularly cruel to Betsie.”
I am sure I was not the only person who had never heard of Desmond Doss before the release of “Hacksaw Ridge” in 2016. That is…not a shame…it is just down right shameful. The movie is fantastic though very graphic, and if you can’t handle graphic or just prefer to read, there are several books about the man. At the core of his story is this truth: God said thou shall not murder. Doss wanted to be a medic, serve his country, and help his people…but he refused to carry a weapon. He was tormented ruthlessly for his decision in basic training. However, when it came to battle, he turned out to be the man you wanted around. He now lives on as the only conscientious objector to ever receive the Congressional Medal of Honor.
Livingston “John” Glenn Norman
I am sure you are unfamiliar with this name, but it is an important one to me. This man served during WWII. Towards the end of his service, he and his unit were moving through a small village and sweeping the enemy out. After a member of the unit threw a grenade into a particular building, he went in to check and found that the room was not filled with enemy soldiers…but women and children. This very nearly wrecked this man beyond repair. In a time when we hadn’t even labeled Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), this man returned home and was hospitalized. The doctors over the hospital called in his young wife to tell her she should forget that this man ever even existed. Through the great grace of God, he revived. He lived the rest of his life as a believer, preacher, local missionary, postal worker, father, husband, and even a grandfather. My grandfather.
In writing this last post I realize there is one more person/group I would like to memorialize this memorial day. When my grandmother was told that she, and her two small children, should forget John Norman ever existed, she responded: “I married him for better or worse…and I’m not going to do that.” She then went home, and went to her own war…on her knees.
This post is in honor of those who have served our country in times of war.
This post is dedicated to the ones they left at home who served them.
Almighty God our General,
You’ve raised up men in arms.
The time of peace has ended,
In war they keep from harm,
The widows and the orphans,
The ones we’re called to love,
They raise a cry against evil forces,
That wage a war above.
Almighty God our General,
These people who have served,
Have oft’ received from those who live,
No thing that they deserved.
The time had come that we should give,
What they all gave us first,
Love, and peace, and service,
Something to quench their thirst.
Almighty God our General,
Today we recognize,
The men and women who gave all,
Some even gave their lives.
We pray and ask You’ll keep them,
That Your army hems them in,
We thank you for the ones who fight,
And that You fight for them.