Francisco Garcia served 18 months in Afghanistan before returning home to Los Angeles. Leaving a party at 2 AM Sunday morning, he was gunned down by an unknown assailant with whom he apparently had an earlier dispute. The headline reads, “Hundreds mourn Army vet who survived Afghanistan, but not LA streets.”
Today is Veterans Day. Approximately 23 million American veterans are alive today. As Francisco Garcia’s tragic story proves, none of them is guaranteed tomorrow. Each deserves our gratitude, today and every day.
While we give thanks for those who fought for our nation, I am also thinking of a different kind of warfare. Paul warns Christians that “we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12). We cannot win this spiritual conflict by fighting for God. To the contrary, we win when he fights through us.
Oswald Chambers writes, “The Christian worker has to be a sacramental ‘go-between,’ to be so identified with his Lord and the reality of His redemption that He can continually bring His creating life through him.” Commenting on Jesus’ statement in John 15:5—”I am the vine; you are the branches”—Anne Graham Lotz notes: “There is no guesswork about our position in His illustration. For a branch to have fruit-bearing potential, it must be alive. Since it has no life of its own, it must be organically attached to the vine so that the sap, or life, of the vine flows up through the trunk and into the branch. Fruit-bearing is all about being connected to the Vine. The branch bears the fruit, it doesn’t produce the fruit.”
In the spiritual conflict of our day, our lost culture desperately needs to see the fruit of the Spirit in us. For them to want what we have, they must see in us something they don’t have in themselves. I will sell my house to buy yours only if I think yours is better than mine. When those who know you want the Christ they see in you, God can use your life and witness to draw them to Jesus.
The problem is, most of us are tempted to draw people to ourselves. In my review of Matthew McConaughey‘s new movie, Interstellar, I note that the film places the future of civilization in the hands of a few astronauts and scientists. At no point does anyone even consider whether God is relevant to our plight.
By contrast, the psalmist testifies: “I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth” (Psalm 121:1-2). How does he know that his help can come from the Lord? Because God “made heaven and earth.” Clearly he can meet your need and mine. But only when we lift our eyes to him.
Today, let’s express our gratitude to those who fought for us. And let’s lift our eyes to the One who fights for us and whose Spirit works through us. Why do you need his help now?