I write this on Memorial Day. A day set aside to remember and acknowledge those who have died while serving in America’s Armed Forces. At some point today the President will lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington Cemetery. The tomb’s inscription reads – Here Rests In Honored Glory An American Soldier Known But To God. Across the country, flags will be placed at the gravesites of those who have served. Many a family will remember the service of those they have lost. But there are some who have no family left to tell their tales or to remember their sacrifice.
Yesterday we were going through Grandpa Ray’s house, gathering the trinkets, collectibles, and keepsakes that he left behind. Among them was an oblong glass paperweight with a WWII era photo inside it of a young man in an Army officer’s uniform, wings gleaming on his chest. Handwritten on the back of the picture was the date June 26, 1944. One of Grandpa’s scrapbooks revealed his identity as 1st Lt. Richard “Dick” Witzig of Goodfield. He was a fighter pilot flying P-47 Thunderbolts in the Pacific theater. On June 26, 1944, he was shot down and killed during the Battle of Saipan. According to my dad, there is no family left to return the photo to or to remember his sacrifice.
What do Memorial Day and the sacrifice of the fallen have to do with our big question? Let’s examine the passage. “Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I. Send me!”(Isaiah 6:8, NASB95) The scene is God’s throne room. Unlike our other big questions, this one is not being asked directly of someone but is generally offered. Reminds me of the Uncle Sam poster, “I want you…” When Isaiah heard the question he answered, he volunteered to be sent by God. No questions as to what he would do, where he would go, how he would serve, what he would say, or what the mission was. If God was looking for a volunteer Isaiah was ready to go.
The same question – Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us still resounds today, calling men and women, calling you, to go and serve in an army like no other. An army that is bent on rescuing the front-line soldiers seeking their destruction instead of killing them. An army whose weapon of choice is love aimed with compassion and fired with grace. An army willing to sacrifice everything to accomplish these standing orders from Jesus Christ – “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18–20, NASB95) How will you answer that call, that invitation? How will you fulfill the orders given by our King?