The number is 3,422May 25th, 2007
The number is 3,422. That’s how many members of the U.S. military have paid the supreme sacrifice in the war in Iraq over the last four years. But on this Memorial Day, when the nation remembers our war dead, how many of them did we know? The reality for most of us is that, in fact, we don’t know any of these 3,422 who laid down their lives for country and family. Nor do we know their 25,549 comrades who have been wounded in this war. If we have family over there, all we know is the quiet prayer that God would keep our loved one from adding to either statistic.
How can you remember the war dead when you didn’t know them? Pictures help, to be sure. Photos silently moving across the screen of the evening news or lined up in a news weekly put a chiseled face to the statistics. After all, he was somebody’s boy, she was someone’s spouse. Pictures help. But we don’t remember for long, do we? Even when Newseek magazine published photocopies of some of the deceased soldiers’ last letters home, while their names and faces became more personal and the magnitude of their sacrifice dawned upon us more forcefully, we still didn’t remember for long.
Do you suppose that’s God’s problem, too? That our memory of the war dead has grown distant and detached. Laid down his life, did he, in the great conflict? Having a picture would sure help. Or a photocopy of a letter home. But just a name? And so we forget.
Which is why a piece of broken bread and a cup of wine were once upon a time placed in our hands. “Do this in remembrance of Me,” he commanded (I Corinthians 11:24). So that we would not forget this War’s supreme Sacrifice. And remember the name, if not the face, of the One who landed behind enemy lines and laid “down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). Calvary. And the bread and the cup. Of him who died.
And rose again. Which makes that war-dead statistic of one utterly unique in time and space—this One who not only laid down his life, but took it up again, his supreme sacrifice becoming humanity’s supreme victory. “So that whosoever believes in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.” Hope, not only for the families of the 3,422, but hope for an entire race of war casualties—which, on this Memorial Day, is surely the most memorable statistic of all!
Sure you want to become a mother?May 10th, 2007
Sure you want to become a mother? Here are some numbers you may want to crunch before you decide! Statistics released this week in the latest Newsweek magazine reveal that the first two years of a new baby’s life will cost $32,000. And if you’re wanting more than one child, you can plan on an added $24,000 for each additional child. Just for their first two years of moving into your heart and home!
And what will it cost to raise that little cherub to the age of 18? Newsweek reports that over those eighteen years a middle-class family will spend an average of $190,980, not including college or lost wages from a parent who remains at home. Per child. Add the costs of college and the lost wages of that parent who stayed at home, and the estimated cost from infancy to age eighteen skyrockets to $1,589,793! Still sure you want to be a mom?
Average stay-at-home mothers (what’s an average mom?) work 92 hours a week in their mothering (is anybody surprised?). If you took her “homework” and parceled it out into the various jobs/tasks that she performs each week, she should be earning (based on the median national salary for the categories of labor she provides) a whopping $138,095 a year! As Newsweek quips, “Sure, the validation is purely symbolic, but it may come as some solace at a time when stay-at-home moms are being taken to task in the new book ‘The Feminine Mistake’ for giving up the financial independence their [women’s rights] mothers fought so hard to win” (5-14-07 Newsweek).
Are you a mom or a mother-wanna-be? There’s an old, dusty Book that sits on American shelves across the land this Mother’s Day. And in that Book the Author makes certain the genuine value of a godly mother is clearly portrayed. “She watches over the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: ‘Many daughters have done well, but you excel them all.’” And then the wisest man who ever lived adds this summation: “Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, but a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised.” (Proverbs 31:27-30)
And so to all our mothers and moms, I know I express the sentiments of a grateful nation and church when on this Mother’s Day we rise up and indeed call you “Blessed.” For you are truly the gift of God to us all.
Don’t let them veto your future, graduates!May 3rd, 2007
Don’t let them veto your future, graduates! The press has been abuzz with news over the showdown this week between the executive and legislative branches of our nation’s government. President Bush cast only the second veto of his presidency in rejecting the Iraq war funding bill passed by Congress, a bill that included a mandated troop withdrawal date, which the president opposes.
Ah, the power of a veto—the power of saying No! But as the 673 of you Andrews University graduates gather for this memorable academic rite of passage, I and the rest of us here at Pioneer want you to know that we’re cheering you on with the power of a Yes!
After all, it’s your graduation promise: “For all the promises of God in Christ are Yes, to the glory of God” (II Corinthians 1:20). Did you catch that? As you head out the door of this campus, God is giving you a giant YES for all the promises you’re going to need for your uncharted journey. A YES for the wisdom and the hope and courage you’ll go on seeking, a YES for the grace and the forgiveness you’ll go on needing, a YES for the new dreams and patience and faith and persistence you’ll be wanting, a YES for all the love that the most important relationships of your life will be requiring.
A giant YES wrapped up in Jesus. Not only because all God’s promises are a Yes in him. But also because through your friendship with Christ, you’ll become the radical change agent our world’s been needing all along.
So take plenty of pictures, hug all your professors, laugh through the memories, cling to the victories, turn in your key. And as you drive away tomorrow, would you please say a prayer for us, too. That right here at Pioneer we can be God’s giant YES to the new class of young adults who’ll be following in your footsteps in just a few weeks. It was an honor to pray for you while you were here. Honor us please with your prayers for us now that you’re leaving.
And in heaven when we next meet—let our “high fives” be for the Savior whose friendship has turned our future into an eternal YES. Together. With him. Amen.