Nature of an Army Part 5:  The Family Heirlooms

They knew he had some medals.  He’d showed a few to the grandchildren at times, even let them take a medal or two for their classroom’s “Show & Tell.”

A few weeks after Uncle Bob passed away his children started sorting through their dad’s things and came across his old army kit bag up in the attic; in this they found about ten medals.  Curious as to what all of these represented, they wrote to the Dept of Veterans’ Affairs asking for information.

One of the medals, the letter said, was awarded to all soldiers who fought in World War II, and another was for those who saw battlefield action; several others were more common, too.  But several of them were among the highest honors awarded by Britain and Canada for courage in battle.

All those years and they never knew their dad was a war hero!  Why hadn’t they probed a bit more?  Like most soldiers who fought overseas, Uncle Bob never talked about the War when he got back, so his family knew nothing of the battles he fought, the bravery he showed, his part in victories gained.  That part of the family legacy is buried with their Dad.

Now, suppose his children had said, “Let’s just junk theses trinkets.  Who cares about old battles and old medals?  Just last week my Tommy won a blue ribbon for the 300-metre dash.  And your Carla won the inter-city spelling bee last month.  These prizes are relevant to us today – not old medals.”

What would you think of such ungrateful children?  Their father gave four years of his life so that Hitler would be stopped in his diabolical plan.  He fought for their freedom and lived all his post-War years with a limp and lead in his leg from injuries received.  Those top honors weren’t given for showing up and being cheerful; they were given for demonstrating outstanding courage under fire.  What kind of children would think a blue ribbon in a foot race more worthy of note?

Are we those children?  Are we junking our precious Family legacy in favour of more recent ribbons?

Yes, the victories being won in current spiritual battles are relevant and we want to appreciate the fighters among us today.  But some soldiers of the Cross endured weeks, months, years of hardship and battle for our sakes, with the thought that we could be free.  Are their awards being stashed in kit bags up in the attic?

“The B-I-B-L-E, Yes that’s the book for me!”

Jesus fought the forces of evil and won the victory so we could be free from the power of sin.  (Romans 8:8-11)  His victory, of incomparable value, has won reconciliation to our Father.  “For as much as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from our vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.”  I Peter 1:18-19

This conflict has gone on for centuries and has been faithfully recorded.  Are we conscious of this precious family legacy at our fingertips?  “For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.”  2 Peter 1:20

Throughout the history of the Church of Jesus Christ valiant warriors have fought and died for the Faith.  Unlike my Uncle Bob, many have left written records of battles fought and victories won; we can find some of these in the Martyrs’ Mirror.

These soldiers trusted themselves to God’s care; they did not take the “the arm of flesh” to defend themselves, nor seek protection through the sword of secular authority.  “They loved not their lives to the death…” Rev 12:11.  As I study the letters these people wrote to the Church from their prison cells, I feel their faith flowing out and encouraging me in my day-to-day conflict.

Through the ages the Holy Spirit inspired faithful Christians such as Menno Simons and Dirk Philips; these men have left our church a rich legacy of instruction.  They taught and wrote in spite of great personal danger so the Christian pathway might be clear to us.  Nowadays we have our church paper, The Messenger of Truth, in which brothers and sisters can share battles fought and victories won.

These are some of the jewels God has given and is giving to His Church today.  Do we cherish their beauty?  Do we polish them by daily use in our homes?  Or are they stashed in the attic while we grab a novel or delve into the latest winds of doctrine that sweep across Christendom these days?

“Feel good stories” is a term coined by modern editors for personal experiences we can all identify with, human interest stories that leave readers with the warm fuzzies.  Bestsellers, mass produced for a huge market, are usually low in “nutritional quality” as well as price.

Children’s books can be quite cheap, too; you can sometimes pick up second-hand books for a dime each.  But some of the stories are so silly; it’s almost as if the market is flooded with ‘candy-bar’ books.  If we’re not careful, our children may be very malnourished for the Bible accounts that would build their faith.

What are we feeding our spiritual man?  Heroes of the Faith or fictional heroes and heroines?  The Bible, pop psychology self-help books, the latest waves among religious writers, “love conquers all” or warm fuzzies?

As a reader and writer of fiction, I’m not going to condemn secular reading.  I enjoy a good storybook and a “warm fuzzy”, too.  But what if our percentages are wrong?  Does the Lord see us on a steady diet of ice cream (romance novels) with a vegetable (short devotional reading) every day and a little meat on Sunday morning?  Or are we deep into the Scriptures?  (All the Scriptures, not just the current darlings of Christendom, minus their context.)

Many of the old songs also bear witness to battles fought and won.  Some of them were brought forth in a time of major personal crisis.  The authors speak of a total surrender to God’s will because they’ve been there.  The meaning is clear; the verses are easy to remember and sing at times when we’re fighting spiritual battles.  There’s a time and place for the newer songs and choruses with trendy tunes, but let’s also cherish the “old-fashioned” hymns – and teach our children to respect them, too.

The Lord has blessed His children with some very precious Family heirlooms.  We dare not let neglect corrode them.


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