Sometimes I wish I were Hunter.
Ok, so maybe I don't actually want to BE Hunter...but I wish I had his gift.
Last Sunday, as I stood with my congregation to sing our national anthem, something happened to me. And I wish I were Hunter so that I could communicate it.
It was so powerful that I'm going to try anyway.
The Star-Spangled Banner is a beautiful song. I've sung it countless times and I always enjoy the sweet, patriotic, reverent feeling it brings. I love singing and remembering our blessed country. I love America.
This time was different, though.
The song began as it usually does. I was standing with my family looking at the flag in the front of the chapel and thinking of our great country. In my mind, I was gearing up for the coming high notes...and a bit apprehensive about the thought of the aging, but notoriously operatic soprano standing in front of me attempting the extra octave leap on the final one. As we commenced the final verse, though, the words demanded my attention.
Oh, thus be it ever when free men shall stand
Between their loved homes and the war's desolation!
All of a sudden my mind was full of faces. Hundreds of faces. I've never had a member of my family in the military. I've never had a loved one leave me to serve our country...so I don't know how it feels. I have always felt a sense of indebtedness to the brave soldiers who have fought for my freedom. But as I sang, I imagined the faces in those "loved homes". I saw the rigid features of stalwart fathers...the pride in their eyes almost obscuring the fear. I saw mothers with eyes heavenward, still capable of breathing only because they trusted their sons to the care of God. I saw brothers and sisters and uncles and wives. I saw friends and children and grandparents and sweethearts. And for the first time, I began to feel the sheer enormity of the sacrifice.
It is not just to those who served that I owe my gratitude.
It is to everyone who loved them.
And I was completely overwhelmed.
The song continued:
Blest with vict'ry and peace, may the heav'n rescued land
Praise the Pow'r that hath made and preserved us a nation!
Heaven rescued land!
You and I live in a land that was rescued from tyranny by God. He, our Creator, hath made and preserved us a nation.
We cannot forget Him.
We can NEVER forget Him.
Too many brave ones have sacrificed. Too many tears have been shed. Too many hearts have been broken. The stakes are too high.
We can never allow tyranny to turn us from our God.