How To Respect Sacrifice this Memorial Day!

3 Lessons I learned about faith from LTJG. Merton Willette

Sacrifice is a part of life for those in the Military. These men and women put their lives on the line so that we can live freely in this Republic. But as time passes, I often wonder if we’ve truly forgotten why we even celebrate Memorial Day.

As a Pastor, I get the chance to meet so many different people. Each of them have a special place in my heart. They make me a better man by encouraging me to live beyond my means and make Jesus number one in my life.

One such individual, whom I considered another Grandpa was Merton Willette. He served his country in World War II in the U.S. Navy and left with a Lieutenant Junior Grade rank. Before his death in 2012 he had the privilege to take a Military Honor Flight to the WWII Memorial in Washington DC. 

He had a beautiful wife who he gracefully took care of for years until her passing around 2003. Having no children, he claimed my parents, sisters and myself as family.

One of my favorite phrases he said was, “God bless you and yours.” Every Sunday, he would ask how I’ve been and if he could pray for me. He would shake my hand, tell me how good of a preacher I was and how good of  drummer I was. The funny thing, he didn’t like the drums, in-fact he told me to turn those loud thumping machines down so he could hear the piano.

When I received the call of Merton’s passing, my heart saddened. I knew he was happier, I knew he saw his Saviour.

On our wedding day, my wife and I had a memorial vase for grandparents who’ve passed on. I respectfully placed a single rose for my dear friend Merton. I want to give you 3 lessons I learned about faith, sacrifice and honor from my friend.

Sacrifice for the love of God.

When I think about the sacrifice Merton made for our nation and for our God, I couldn’t help but be inspired  to do more for the kingdom of God. “Jesus said,If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching…'” John 14:23

Merton was a world traveler. At the age of 95 he took a missions trip to Kenya, Africa preaching the Good News of Jesus Christ. From the time his wife went home to be with Jesus to the time he also went home, Merton went on a cruise or missions trip every year for nearly ten years.

Here was a man, who served his country faithfully and after coming to faith in Christ served his God faithfully until his passing. It didn’t matter, his mission in life was to help more people find theirs. And at 95, traveling the globe, we can learn a lesson or two about sacrificing to see others succeed.

We are called to give up completely to God, every area of our life. My father said to me the other day, “Do we invite Jesus into our lives into our journey? or… Does Jesus invite us into his life, into his journey?” That is a question we all must come to grips with. We are not inviting Jesus into our lives.

Christian faith has never been that, it has always been Jesus inviting us into his life. When we turn the tables on our faith like that, there is no telling what God will do in our lives and in the lives of those around us.

Give up and live life

When I think about Merton, he didn’t care what other’s thought. He didn’t care that he was well into his nineties and traveling the world. Everything was about living life to the full. When the war was over, he took care of his wife until her death. After she died, he was free to begin again. For Merton, he had a new calling–telling people about Jesus.

If you feel you’re stuck, begin to live. If you feel you don’t know your purpose, look inside. Dig deep and discover the hidden treasures of your life. God is waiting for you to step out into the unknown and fight the battle of life. But you have to be willing to give up everything to live your life.

Be willing to go all in?

This is our mandate, our calling. In the military there is only one question… ARE YOU ALL IN? My question, are you all in? Are you willing to lay aside everything you know about being a follower of Christ and give up completely to in a hasty and audacious way to God?

That is what it  means to live with reckless abandon. That ‘s what it means to be all in. Whether you believe in God or not, take this as a challenge and allow yourself to go ALL IN and dream big! Don’t let the size of your dream hinder where you can go.

It takes a tenacity and a willingness to do what it takes and do what’s never been done. Challenge the status quo. Pick yourself up by the boot straps and allow God to take you on this most wonderful journey called life!

We are called to have respect for the sacrifice our fallen heroes made for our country. But we are to have a greater respect for the sacrifice Jesus made for us. We are called to preach the Gospel. It will provoke, it will upset the status quo, but are we to limit ourselves to what others think or are we willing to go all out and go all in?

My friend Merton did; will you?

Question: What are you willing to do this Memorial Day to sacrifice for your dreams? Leave a comment by clicking here!

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