A breezy nip was in the air on that April 1 morning when I had the distinct pleasure of accompanying a veteran on the Honor Guard Flight to Washington, D.C. We had been well trained about our duties as guardians of these outstanding ladies and gentlemen who had served our country in WWII, the Korean War, or the Vietnam War. This was not to be a tourist visit for us to these great memorials, but we were to be servants of our assigned veteran and do everything within our means to make that day a wonderfully memorable day. “This day is about the veterans, and not you,” we were told over and over again. I got the message loud and clear.
The day was long as I picked up my veteran at 4:00 a.m. and I didn’t return home until after 11:00 that night. Being focused on the needs of another was not hard when we started out the day. As the day wore on, however, my feet began to throb. I had been dealing with tendonitis in both of my feet and I knew that this would be a difficult day. However, I kept reminding myself that this day was not about me, but it was about this incredible veteran who had served on the front lines in Korea. He told story after story that day, and the pain in my feet seemed to minimize as he described his experiences. It was thrilling to be part of the reception for these heroes when we returned home that evening. All day long I kept thinking about how these veterans had served our country sometimes in horrible conditions; I could surely serve for ONE DAY.
Servanthood is not for the faint of heart. In Ephesians we are reminded that “we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” (Eph. 2:10). On the Honor Flight day, I certainly felt as if this was a work that God had prepared for me to do. After a few days of being home, I started to think more about what made that day so special for me. Even though the day was NOT about me, I learned that being a true servant really brings great joy and peace. To be able to meet the needs of others with a heart that is about serving for the right reasons brings unparalleled peace and joy.
However, the attitude of serving quickly disappeared after a week at home and I was back into the “me routine.” That never became so clear to me than when I had a disagreement with a loved one and demanded that they understand my point of view and make changes to meet my needs. It never happened. As I sat stewing over this dilemma for a few days, I became more and more me focused…or as a mentor once called it, “navel gazing” replaced all thoughts of serving and all sense of reason. I was more interested in getting my way and proving a point. Nothing really changed until I woke up one morning and was quickly reminded that Jesus never once demanded to explain how His feelings had been hurt when He didn’t get His way. He never once demanded to know why people were being insensitive to His needs or why people seemed oblivious to what He wanted. I could not recall one time in the scriptures where He made mention that no one understood Him and that He was out to help them understand that He had been mistreated. When people let Jesus down, He didn’t sulk and pout and raise His voice because He had been misunderstood. He retreated and spent more time with His Father. In my haste of feeling sorry for myself and wanting someone to understand my point of view and how wronged I had been, I lost sight of serving others, of being His workmanship, of being prepared to do His works. Rather than retreating to the Father, I demanded my own way and demanded understanding.
Being on the honor flight was an incredibly humbling opportunity. Among everything I learned that day, I learned that serving is what God desires of us at all times. Just as the trip to DC was not about me, daily living is not about me either. It’s about being ready to serve, whether understood or misunderstood. There is no I in “servanthood.” It’s about serving for the right reasons…because I have spent time with the Father and I can do the good works that He prepared for me to do.
If you would like more information about the honor flight, you may want to check it out at www.honorflight.org. They are always looking for veterans of WWII, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War to honor them with an unforgettable free trip of a lifetime.