Navy SEAL widow inspires the nation

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Navy SEAL widow inspires the nation

March 3, 2017 -

Carryn Weigand Owens is being called America’s “moral compass.” Anyone who saw President Trump’s tribute Monday night to Ryan Owens, her fallen Navy SEAL husband, will never forget it. The president was right: her husband’s sacrifice is “etched into eternity.” And her courage in responding to his tragic death is an example for us all.

We should not be surprised.

Carryn Weigand was co-captain of the University of Virginia Cavaliers women’s soccer team and one of its best players. After earning a BA and Master’s degree, she chose to serve her country as an intelligence officer around the time of the 9/11 attacks. Then she met and married Ryan, a Navy SEAL Team 6 member. The couple had four children together. After twelve deployments, he was killed on January 28 during a mission in Yemen. Carryn buried him in Arlington National Cemetery just six days before the president’s speech to Congress.

This Sunday would have been Ryan’s thirty-seventh birthday. The next day would have been their thirteenth wedding anniversary. Carryn’s courage in the midst of her grief is an example for us all. And proof that character transcends politics.

Or at least it should.

A former Hillary Clinton campaign volunteer responded to Carryn’s appearance Monday night and the extended ovation she received by tweeting a horribly derogatory statement. The good news is that he was immediately fired by his employer after a firestorm of criticism. A Salon columnist later called the president’s recognition of Owens’s sacrifice a “disgrace”; a Washington Post writer called it “contemptibly cynical.”

When you get frustrated over the political polarization and cynicism in our country today, know this: both the problem and the solution transcend politics.

In Mere Christianity, C. S. Lewis likens humanity to a fleet of ships sailing in formation. Three things can go wrong: (1) the ships collide with each other; (2) the ships take on water or suffer mechanical problems during the voyage; (3) the fleet sails to the wrong destination. Laws can help prevent collisions between people and can point society toward the common good. But they cannot keep individual “ships” from breaking down. As Lewis notes, “You cannot make men good by law; and without good men you cannot have a good society.”

Job asked, “Where shall wisdom be found? And where is the place of understanding? Man does not know its worth, and it is not found in the land of the living” (Job 28:12–13). He noted that wisdom “cannot be bought for gold, and silver cannot be weighed as its price” (v. 15). Job was right: “God understands the way to it, and he knows its place. . . . [God] said to man, ‘Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, and to turn away from evil is understanding'” (vs. 23, 28).

Here we find Hebrew parallelism in which the second line amplifies and explains the first: “The fear of the Lord” is defined as the choice “to turn away from evil.” We fear God to the degree that we refuse evil. We do not fear God to the degree that we choose evil.

By God’s definition of wisdom, how wise is our culture? How wise will you choose to be today?

A note to preaching pastors: I will soon begin “Cultural Preaching,” an email resource that is only for preachers. My periodic emails will contain current news, facts, and cultural illustrations you can use in your sermons and teaching. No one else in your congregation will receive this content from us. If you would like to be on my distribution list, submit your request here identifying yourself as a preaching pastor.

Also, I will soon be announcing my online resource library containing sermons, Bible studies, articles, and essays. It will be available to pastors as well as the public, but Cultural Preaching will be available exclusively to preachers. Once your request has been received and verified, I will send you a confirmation. There is no cost, of course, and you can request to be removed from the distribution list at any time. Thank you for your ministry—know that it will be a privilege to partner with you in sharing God’s word with our world.

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