This next weekend we will pause as a nation and observe Memorial Day. The ways we “observe” it will be many, a day off, a trip out of town, a picnic, a trip to the cemetery, or perhaps we will join our church family in worship, taking time to express our appreciation to those who have served and presently serve in our military. We will particularly express our gratitude for the men and women who have paid the ultimate price down through the years in the giving of their lives to insure the freedoms we enjoy and practice daily.
Not a Memorial Day comes and goes that I do not give thought to my pastor as a teen, Pastor David Wheeler, and David’s younger brother, Jim. Captain James A. Wheeler was an A-1E Skyraider pilot who lost his life in Vietnam, the first serviceman from Arizona to die there. Jim had been in South Vietnam for only 60 days but was flying his 40th combat mission when he was shot down on Easter morning, 1965. He left a wife and 3 young boys to deal with “not knowing” for some 37 years, listed as missing in action. Jim’s remains were finally brought to a Tucson burial with full military honors in April, 2002. Jim had a tremendous Christian testimony; and in letters home to his wife, brothers, and mother, it was very clear that his trust was in His Lord and Savior even in those difficult times. I am thankful for Jim’s sacrifice and for his testimony.
Most of us either know or know of someone who gave their life in the service of our country. Let me encourage you to give thanks this week for their sacrifice and that of their family. Beyond that, reach out to a veteran you know or to the family of someone presently serving and express your gratitude for their service to our country, for serving you.
Of course, the One who gave the ultimate gift for our freedom was our Lord Jesus Christ. His gift of His life makes life and life eternal available to all who will accept. For Jim, for you, and for me He is never missing in action. He is always “a present help in the time of trouble.” (Psalm 46:1 in part, KJV)
Blessings to all,