“All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance . . .” – Hebrews 11:13a
Ever since I was in elementary school I have always wanted to visit Washington, DC. Since I grew up in Texas, the nation’s capital was not a car ride away. However, now that I live in North Carolina, a four and a half hour car trip is plausible. So, the week before Memorial Day, my parents drove from Texas to join me for a week of vacation in Virginia and Washington, DC.
While my mom and dad have visited Washington with all of its rich history several times, this would be my first visit. Needless to say, I was excited. I was excited to go the Smithsonian and see Dorothy’s shoes from the Wizard of Oz, all the inaugural ball gowns of the various First Ladies of the United States, and the White House.
Once my parents and I stepped off the Metro our first stop was Arlington National Cemetery. While I have seen pictures of the cemetery on television, I will admit it was not on my list of places to visit on vacation. However, our visit to the cemetery had the most impact on me during our time in DC.
As students of history, my dad and I soak up every detail of events of the past. During our tour of the cemetery we were told that individuals buried in the cemetery number over 250,000 men and women who have given their lives defending the freedoms of the United States of America as far back at the 1700s. The land for the cemetery is land that was handed down through the family of one of George Washington’s step-grandson’s, George Washington Parke Custis.
One of the things that struck me, however, was the section of land dedicated to those who had fought in the American Revolution. The men who went to battle in that war, which lasted from 1775-1781, went and fought for a country that wasn’t even a country when the war began. However, they so valued the taste of freedom they and their families enjoyed, they were willing to put their lives on the line so that not only they, but generations that followed, could enjoy those freedoms as well.
It occurred to me while thinking over those who fought during the American Revolution, that as one eligible for membership in the Daughters of the American Revolution, that I had a relative willing to go into battle so that I might enjoy freedom today.
During our time in the cemetery we were told that there are anywhere between 25-30 funerals at the cemetery every day. Twice we were stopped on our bus tour because of a funeral procession. Once we saw and heard the Navy band playing during a different funeral procession. Because of the high requirements to be buried in Arlington National Cemetery, these are not all the military men and women who die in battle defending freedom.
It is a sobering thought to think someone is willing to go to battle to die for the cause of freedom because they believe freedom is good.
Upon heading toward the cemetery’s visitor’s center, we were taken out along a road that overlooked a hill. For as far as the eye could see the land was dotted with the infamous white military grave markers – in perfect rows standing at attention.
Cemetery officials noted that all the plots at Arlington would not be filled until 2050.
Those are countless men and women willing to go, serve their country, and put their lives on the line for a cause.
Often we speak of the cause of Christ. We speak of advancing the cause of Christ; advocating the cause of Christ; and living for the cause of Christ. Very rarely is dying for the cause of Christ mentioned.
While in Washington I read two books: Radical Together by David Platt and Lives Given, Not Taken by Erich Bridges and Jerry Rankin. Both of these books have an emphasis on reaching the nations for Christ, while the latter is about modern-day Southern Baptist missionaries who were martyred while trying to advance the Gospel to the ends of the earth.
I find it interesting that we are often willing to stand up for causes even when we don’t know the end outcome. We don’t know if the end result will be to our advantage or detriment, but we charge ahead armed with zeal and fervor to stand up for what we believe.
However, I have noticed that we often don’t do this when it comes to what we say we believe about Jesus. Timidity, reluctance, and fear take over and we shy away from proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ – whether on our street or around the world.
The incredible thing is, if we are in Christ Jesus, we know the end outcome – we win. Because of Christ Jesus and His death, burial and resurrection, we are the victors. When Jesus called the original Twelve, they didn’t know the end outcome; they simply had to trust what He said. However, we know the result.
And it is good.
So, are you will to go and stand up for what you say you believe?