As we see people wearing poppies, our thoughts go to Remembrance Day. For me, every year at this time my thoughts go to my father, who was a World War II veteran. This year those thoughts started early as I went to the Netherlands for regional meetings. Whenever I go there, I think of World War II and the role that my father and Canada played in liberating that country; what a sacrifice.
It’s remarkable that almost a million Canadians would serve voluntarily in the Canadian Armed Forces to ensure the freedom of a continent an ocean away. These men and women came from all walks of life: rich and poor; language, race, creed and colour were not barriers to service. They all had a common goal: freedom. They went freely, knowing that the sacrifice could be very great; the sacrifice could be their very lives. And for many, that was the sacrifice that they ultimately paid.
Freedom at any cost. Fortunately for me, my father sacrificed time, over 4 years, but not his life. In my mind, the fact that he survived is a miracle. He was in the D-Day invasion and was involved in most of the major battles to liberate the Netherlands. To tell you the truth, my father never talked about it much. Most of what I know is from a journal I have about my father’s regiment, “Into action with the 12th Field Regiment.” Above is a map that shows the major battles and the route that was taken. It tells the story in a picture.
How does all this fit into my story? How does all this fit into TWR’s story? It fits into my story easily today. God allowed my father to return to Canada wounded…yes, wounded. He went to a veteran’s hospital in Vancouver where he met my mom. She had come there from Britain after the war planning on going on to Australia. She never made it to Australia. She met my Dad, and six weeks later they were married. A Christmas Eve wedding. A few years later I was born.
When we talk about war, no matter where it is on earth, there are words that are always spoken: battles, sacrifice, freedom, blood, wounded, death and, in Canada’s case, volunteer. As I think about those words, I realize they are all in Scripture. And they also refer to war, but it is a different kind of war – a spiritual war that we are all in the midst of. Ephesians 6 talks about the battles that rage; it talks about our enemy and who that enemy is: the evil rulers and unseen authorities from the dark world. It goes on to say how we can protect ourselves from those evil forces.
The thing that we all need to understand is that there is a battle. And unlike World War II, it doesn’t end while we are on this earth; it is continual. As long as we are in the kingdom of God, we will have to fight the battle. Our enemy is the evil one, and he doesn’t like that Christ sacrificed his life for our freedom, that he shed his blood so that our sin could be forgiven and that he volunteered to do it.
My father fought battles for the freedom of our country, and he used big guns. Our battles are much more personal, and our weapons are the armour of God (Ephesians 6:10-20). God hasn’t left us to fight on our own. How we fight that battle is also outlined clearly in the remaining portion of Ephesians 6.
As I write this week, I am reminded of those who are fighting the battle at this very moment. Tony and Iris have served with TWR for 35 years. Iris has terminal cancer. Satan would like them to be discouraged; he would like them to be angry at their Saviour. The fact is that Satan is not winning this battle. Iris is clear on where she is going; the family is sad, as anyone would be, but they are trusting God to carry them through this battle.
The Reyburn family has faithfully served in Central Asia for 12 years. For many of those years, they have been the overseers of our training center in that region. Right now, two of their children are facing medical difficulties. This family knows that the evil one wants to discourage them, but they also know that God is walking the journey with them. They will not let Satan win this battle.
As you look at the map above, you can see the journey my father took. You can see where the battles took place. We cannot imagine the difficulties that he faced, but I do know why he did it. He did it so that we might live in freedom, that we might enjoy the liberties we enjoy today.
Christ paid the ultimate sacrifice that we might have life and that we might find freedom from the bondage of Satan. Scripture tells us that Christ did what he did for every man, every woman, every boy, every girl. For them, we will continue to fight this battle.
As we wear our poppies this year, let’s reflect on the sacrifices others have made for us in man-made wars. Let’s also think about those who have gone before and have fought spiritual battles to ensure that all can hear the truth that sets us free. And, most importantly, let’s all remember today the sacrifice that Christ made for each of us.