Meditations by John Dean

Monday, December 3, 2012

Heroes of the Past

(Psalms 31:12 KJV) I am forgotten as a dead man out of mind: I am like a broken vessel. 

I suppose there is a time in everyone’s life (particularly when they get older) when they feel like the “broken vessel” in our text. They no longer feel they are a vital part of most conversations. Their ideas are no longer considered to be cherished nuggets of wisdom from the Lord as they once were. They are no longer running on the fast track, but feel as though they are sitting motionless on the sidelines. They may still be breathing, thinking and remembering, but their glory days have passed and they are the only ones who still remember them. The question is, “How did they pass so quickly?”

I had an experience today that seemed to fit perfectly into the above thoughts. I was on my way to Tucson, Arizona and I sat next to a lady who worked for American Airlines. After we talked for a while about things in general I got around to asking her if she went to church. She responded by saying, “I do not go to church I go to synagogue…I am a Jew.” I then asked her if she was faithful to her synagogue and she said “No.” We spent the next few minutes discussing her flimsy excuses for which I smiled and challenged her to be faithful to her synagogue and then we changed the subject.

We spent the rest of our time together talking about her ninety-one year old father who was visiting her from New York. Her father was serving in the Navy during WWII on the ship USS Missouri when Japan signed their surrender. He actually witnessed this historical moment on September 2, 1945 when the Japanese Foreign Minister Mamoru Shigemitsu signed the instrument of surrender on behalf of the Japanese Government. He stood close enough to the signing to witness how Foreign Minister Mamoru Shigemitsu’s hand was shaking because of his nervousness when signing the surrender.

She then told me another interesting story that I found very sad. When her father was in San Antonio, Texas visiting her on Veteran’s Day, she called the proper officials to set up an opportunity for him to be a part of the WWII Veteran’s Day recognition. She was told that San Antonio was filled with heroes and there was no room for another one.

I must admit that things like this make me wonder at what point one outgrows the need to be honored for their heroic or faithful deeds. This was an obvious case of dishonoring, but what about the less obvious cases. There are cases such as a mother and father spending a lifetime working hard and going without so their children would not have to go without. I wonder how many older mothers and fathers feel rejected, useless and like a “broken vessels.”

Is it possible to dishonor the ‘generals’ of the past by ignoring them because they have become weak and not quite as alert as they once were? Perhaps we should think about that because old age is in front of all of us.

Help us to be honoring to the trailblazers and heroes of the past. Help us to seek out those who feel they have become useless broken vessels and sit at their feet, honor them, and learn from their stories. Thank you Lord for the heroes of the past and help us to honor them in the same way we hope to be honored.

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