Monday, December 3, 2007

My Vocation, My Life, and My Death

My patriotism is an important part of who I am. It goes beyond my love for this country and my loyalty to her. I am her servant. I have surrendered my freedom so that others won't have to. I have signed over my life to keep her free and safe. I cannot always live the way others freely live. I cannot always speak my mind the way others freely speak their mind. I do not get to quit the way that others can freely quit. I cannot avoid mortal danger the way that others freely can. Even a casual glance through the Uniform Code of Military Justice proves that Soldiers must play by different rules as they live out their vocations. I may be a citizen, but I am no civilian.

It is one of my greatest burdens, but it remains my highest and deepest honor. Each time that I put on this dress uniform, I am made literally breathless by what a privilege it is to be able to wear it. The gold "U.S." on my lapel is more important to me than any other medal or award that I can wear. If necessary, I am prepared to die for this country. Her people and her principles are that important to me.

Recently, my unit's Executive Officer asked me how I felt about my promotion as he pinned my sergeant stripes on my chest. "It is an honor to serve, sir." I replied.

But let us keep things in the proper perspective. As much as I love this nation, I will never forget that she is not my god. I serve her, but I do not worship her. I submit to her will, but I do not bow before her. My obedience as a Soldier is to God through serving my country. My belief in the principles of just warfare are from God which are demonstrated by obeying Rules of Engagement and only lawful orders. To me, my obligation and membership in the most noble and honorable profession of arms may be lifelong, but it to will pass away. My vocation will be rendered obsolete on the Last Day. I can hardly wait until my work becomes eternally unnecessary.

God alone is my Eternal Master. I may be a fine Soldier, but I am a Christian first and last. Being a Christian is what makes me want to be a fine Soldier. Being a Christian is what gives me courage and a desire to serve my neighbor. It is my hope that this principle is demonstrated by how I live today and how I will die tomorrow. I will not permit there to be any confusion regarding Who it is that I serve. I will have nothing less than a Christian funeral. I have no need for military honors. I have been honored enough already.

There will be no eulogy because I have done nothing that was beyond my call of duty. No one will play taps because I am not retiring to sleep in my bunk. There will be no missing man role call because I am present and accounted for on the roster of the Church Triumphant. There will be no rifle and helmet displayed because I lived by the Cross of Christ and God's Holy Word.

Do not bury me in this dress uniform that is nothing more than my fancy work clothes; dress me in the clean, white robes of a baptized saint and put a crucifix around my neck. Do not thank my wife for my dedicated service; remind her that I have gone to live eternally in the presence of her Heavenly Father. Do not render salutes in memory of my feeble works; make the sign of the cross in memory of God's infinite grace.

Do not drape my casket with the flag that was a symbol of what I served; place the white funeral pall there as a symbol of my adoption into the Kingdom of Heaven. Do not recite the American Pledge; confess the Nicene Creed. Do not comfort people with empty sentiments; convict them with properly delivered Law and Gospel. Do not send me off to meet My God with the sounds of war: the discharge of arms, the drawing of swords, and the cadence of drums; bid me farewell with the peace that can only be delivered by the Te Deum, the Sanctus, and the Holy Benediction.

Never forget that there are no patriots among the dead. They have been released from duty and fulfilled their oaths.


Dan @ Necessary Roughness said...

Awesome post, Mike. If you don't submit it to the carnival, I will.

Thank you for your words and your service.

Mike Baker said...

Thank you, Dan. This is actually a post that I have been sitting on (and adding to) for quite a while. I first wrote it out while I was trying to get some of my affairs in order. Everyone should outline for their families that they want a CHRISTIAN funeral. There are tons of resources by members of the synod for those who are doing funeral planning. It is especially important in my line of work, but life is a fragile thing for everyone.

I must admit a great deal of ignorance about the procedures surrounding the Lutheran Carnival. If you want to submit this post, be my guest. My humble blog could use the traffic. =P

It is an honor to serve you, brother. Thanks again for your kind words.

Another Kerner said...

Beautifully said.

You have the heart of a warrior .....and a servant.

What a lovely blend of virtues with which to serve our nation and our Lord Christ Jesus Christ.

Another Kerner

Mike Baker said...

It is not I that you see but Christ.

My gut instinct is to get all of the honor that I can. My flesh wants credit and glory when I die. My flesh wants a lasting legacy. My flesh wants to know that people will speak well of me when I am gone. I want to steal the honor from God. I have as much sinful pride as the next guy... probably more.

But the life that I now live is by the Spirit and not the flesh.

It is by the power of Holy Spirit that the desires of the flesh are rejected. These virtues that you see are the property of Almighty God and are freely given in abundance to all who are in Christ Jesus.

I did not create them. The credit is not mine.