Written in honor of Pastor Duain Vierow, who was scheduled to write this week's devotions, but died April 9
Today I would like to introduce you to Col. Jerry Goodrich of the U.S. Marines, who retired after protecting our freedoms for more than 32 years. Jerry didn't pretend to be an unusual hero, but he gave the best years of his life to help us celebrate our independence today. Jerry, like Norman we heard about yesterday, suffers from the effects of Agent Orange, but manages to come to worship and Bible study every chance he gets.
Jesus invites you and me to put our heavy burdens and weariness aside and allow him to give us rest. It is nearly 11 p.m. as I write these words, but I take the concerns of this day and hand them over to Jesus. He has won the victory for me, cleans me up as I prepare to lay down my head and promises to greet me in the morning--either in Eden Prairie, Minn., or in the home he has prepared for me.
In another sense, this is what Jerry and thousands of other women and men have done and continue to do for you and me. The world is torn apart by hundreds of wars and skirmishes. People yearn for justice and peace. That we can have our rest as a people who know peace and freedom is due in large part because of those who have given their lives that we may live to serve our neighbors without restrictions. We are a blessed people, and we celebrate this day as a thankful people.
Lord of peace and rest, thank you for taking our weariness and brokenness into your victory. Enable us to make this a day of thanksgiving, not only to you but also to the women and men who have given us our rest as a free people. To your glory, Amen!
Matthew 11:25-30 (NRSV)
25 At that time Jesus said, "I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants;
26 yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.
27 All things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.
28 "Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.
29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."