How to thank a veteran

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By Jonathan Carl

Gratitude. When we thank someone it is important not to thank them merely with our words or a temporary response. The most significant act of gratitude is one that demonstrates significant life change. So as we consider the sacrifices and selflessness of our veterans and their families, may we live our lives with a purpose greater than ourselves. May we live our lives more fervently for our Creator Jesus.

Mark 12:30 “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”

Mind. Did you know your brain is faster than the fastest supercomputer and that your brain has more storage capacity than at least 1,000,000 gigabytes? As much as we may be tempted to find shortcomings in our minds and in our educational system, our learning privileges and educational advantage are incredible compared to the academic access lacking in most nations. May we use our minds to love Jesus and love others, focused on a purpose greater than ourselves.

Body. I love superhero movies, admiring the character’s abilities, strength, speed and skills. But they aren’t real. But you are real, and your body is really capable of amazing things. Unfortunately we have an epidemic of putting destructive things into our bodies such as porn, addictive substances, and excessive and unhealthy food. If we take better care of ourselves our bodies will not suffer from as much disease and accelerated death as we are choosing. I pray that we are quicker to defend our bodies from sexual temptations and sexual predators, and that we are more courageous to help others resist such devastating circumstances and choices. May we be heroic not only in how we care for and protect our bodies, but also in our sacrifices and services towards caring for the others. May we use our God-given, God-created bodies in a way that honors Him. We are not accidents, we are created intentionally and purposefully to live for a purpose greater than ourselves.

Heart. Our feelings and emotions can be so deceptive and misleading. When we take our emotional energy and the power of our will and apply and focus it, we can do amazing things. I love the story of Desmond Doss, as told in the movie Hacksaw Ridge, and how he found purpose in serving others for the glory of God. Although he was not physically intimidating, and never wielded a gun, he served heroically with his whole heart in World War II on the island of Okinawa, rescuing over 75 people from harms way and earning the Medal of Honor. Our world is broken and falling apart. May we focus our hearts on putting it back together, piece-by-piece, through the love and power of Jesus.

Soul. We are not beasts. We are not mere animals. We are created in the image of God, not just with a mind, body, and heart, but also with a soul. We are spiritual beings, made for a spiritual purpose, to honor and enjoy God. Shortly after September 11, 2001, as I was training and preparing to go to war, I had the opportunity to talk with a Korean War veteran. I asked him for his single most important advice, and you know what he said? “Prioritize God.”

If we want to live heroically and honor our veterans, not just on Veteran’s Day, but everyday, you know what we need to do? Prioritize Jesus, each and every day. May we use our amazing, God-given and God-created minds, bodies, hearts and souls to live for a purpose greater than ourselves - to live for Jesus.

Jeremiah 29:7 “But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.”

Will you? Will you live your life with purpose, a purpose greater than your self, a purpose that prioritizes Jesus? I hope so and if you do, you will make our community better and you will make all veterans proud of you, and they’ll want to thank you in return!