A respect for those who serve and a disdain for those who war…

The randomness of life came my way this past week.

Explanation: Last year I spent a little over 2 weeks in Alaska (it was amazing) and was able to meet a lot of new people and experience a lot of new things. Of the people I met in Alaska one was a young man, David. David was in the military and had been stationed in Anchorage, Alaska and was chomping at the bit to be shipped out. He was from Michigan and we knew some of the same people from Olivet so there was an immediate connection there. Very cool!

Well this past week I was in Eastern Michigan speaking at a Jr. High camp for a bunch of students. While the students were in their cabin / small groups I remained in our meeting / chapel area and was doing a few things on my computer. That’s when the randomness hit, who walks in? No other than David from Alaska, my military friend. I looked at him and then looked at him again, a little double take action and said, “I know you, from Alaska.” He shook his head as if he has just been slapped by the randomness bug as well and said, “Yea, Erik right.”  I said, “Yea, d-a-v-i-d” (I said it really slow thinking I was wrong but I wasn’t, I had actually remembered a name. A miracle in and of itself.)

So yea it was crazy!

He informed me that he had finally been shipped out to Iraq and was currently on a 2-week leave and was going to be heading back to Iraq in a week or so. I asked him how Iraq was, he thought for a minute and said, “it’s just another lifestyle, you just live.” He wasn’t very talkative about it so I just left it alone.

I found myself having a heightened amount of respect for him. After all, he had sacrificed a lot of things (I’m guessing) to join the military and to now be thousands of miles away from everything he knows, living in the desert, and doing whatever it might be that his “lifestyle” consists of. I found myself having a great deal of respect for him.

If it sounds like I was a little shocked about that fact it’s because I was, a little. Now, I have a solid amount of respect for all humanity no matter what their occupation might be, but considering the fact that I am leaning pretty heavily these days toward calling myself a pacifist (still thinking through it all) and that I am certain I disdain war and the myth of redemptive violence and that I even more certainly think Christians / followers of Jesus are called to be peace makers, yes, I was a little surprised at my heightened respect for this fellow who was giving himself and seemingly his loyalties to a nation on behalf of a war being fought on the other side of the world. 

It’s true, I have very high level of respect for those who serve in the military. But the tension confronts my intellect when I start to think about pledging allegiance to anything other than my / our God and when I think about warring in the name of the nation state. There is certain tension to be thought through there.
All I know is that I respect those who serve and hope to encourage them and everyone to follow Jesus in the way of peace and peace making and pledging our allegiance, all of it, to God and God alone.

Just thinking because the randomness of life hit me.


PS: I guess this is a fitting post for the 4th O' Julyl
(even though i wrote it late week)