I stayed up late several nights this week with a book that I just couldn’t put down. “Lone Survivor” by Marcus Luttrell is a first-hand eye-witness account of Operation RedWing in the mountains of Afghanistan carried out by SEAL team 10. As the title suggests, it is a tragic story of brotherhood, heroism and sacrifice. There were countless times while reading that I found myself dumbfounded at the determination and dedication these men displayed in their training and in their battle.
It reminded me of a few things. First, the best stories are filled with tremendous adversities. People face challenges that are raw and real, and hardship is universal. We are inspired by those who face adversity, despite their pronounced fear and anxiety in the midst of it, and do not shrink back. The writer of Hebrews declares, “but we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.”
Second, heroism should be celebrated. The book is written by sinful men caught in less than desirous situations who act in extraordinary ways. They are not perfect men, but they displayed greatness. A hero is not the same thing as an idol. Similarly, heroism is not the same as idolatry. An idol is a false god who deceives one into giving allegiance and/or worship. A hero is one who is admired for a combination of strength, courage and sacrifice. They don’t deceive others into false worship; rather, they deflect praise in the name of dignity, duty, calling and honor. We need more heroes, and I am confident that they come in all shapes and sizes; for it has significantly more to do with character than stature.
Finally, I was reminded that freedom comes through sacrifice. The freedom that you and I enjoy has been afforded to us by the blood of those who willingly laid down their lives to preserve it. It was not free to purchase, and it is not free to maintain. Men and women continue even now to train and fight to preserve my freedom. This is a humbling thought.
I have done nothing to deserve freedom; rather it has been deemed an unalienable right to me based on the constitution. What a privilege. Such privilege should not lead to haughtiness, but humility. The parallel here is obvious and more important: Christ is the ultimate sacrifice bringing the greatest freedom for those least deserving. I have done nothing to earn this freedom; it too was decreed over my wretched soul giving me new life. Christ saved and sustains me now.