Saturday, June 7, 2014

Honor the Greatest Generation by Being a Great Generation

My TIE Value: Be Still and wait for the Lord (Psalm 37:7)

We have witnessed the 70th Anniversary of the allied invasion that led to the freedom of Europe in World War II. Thousands of soldiers who were killed on June 6, 1944 are laid to rest in the famous cemeteries along the French coastline. Many of these soldiers were under the age of 21. Seeing the elderly WWII veterans makes the loss of years even more real to me.

We have the benefit 70 years later in seeing the enduring result of freedom because of the sacrifices that were made. Tom Brokaw said, “These young soldiers sacrificed without knowing what the result would be.” (June 6, CBC News)

I have taken time this week to reflect on all those who have sacrificed on and off the battlefield. They are rightfully known as “The Greatest Generation.” We all would do well to recall our connections to this generation.

My "Great Bill"

My personal connections to the Greatest Generation are many. But one such person that I believe is representative of this generation is through the life of my grandfather I like to remember as the “Great Bill.”  He was a gentle man when dealing with people but at the same time a tough man in the way he dealt with life’s issues head on. He could “Take the bull by the horns.” While he never stormed a beachhead, he sacrificed his life for the well-being of other people.

Billie Bittick Ford
    -          Before the war he sacrificed his education to support and raise his younger siblings so that they could complete their education

    -          During the war, he welded ships that were converted for supporting the war effort

    -          After the war, he coached baseball and helped his neighbors with their cars after working long 10+ hour days in a carbon black plant. I am amazed he was doing this in throughout his forties!

Great Bill spent his best years of his life enriching people's lives. Sadly, just a few years after retiring Alzheimer’s began to take hold of his life and after a much of a decade of illness his life on earth ended at 70 years of age.

I only know my Great Bill through the stories preserved by my grandmother, great-uncle, father, and aunt. But sadly, some of these stories are beginning to fade as he has been gone for over 35 years. One day I will connect with Great Bill himself in the presence of God’s glory.

Other Members of the Greatest Generation

Since 1999, I have been connected with the greatest generation from Hong Kong as I have served in Chinese Churches. This generation endured the great hardships. One hardship was worldwide Great Depression where like so many lost any wealth that was previously made.  And a much harder hardship was the during imperial Japanese occupation from 1941-45. Many of the women had their feet bound.  Married couples were separated for up to a decade before finding their lost love. They not only survived but remarkably persevered through the hard processes of recovery. I have learned from these great people that…

-          They never gave up life even through their extreme suffering.

-          They never gave up hope even when it seemed like they would never find their spouse.

-          They never gave in to bitterness over the injustices that could never be set right.

As a result they have guided their children, grandchildren, and even great grandchildren with encouragement that all of life’s difficulties can be recovered if one does not give up. Even better, the seniors I have known over the years in the Chinese church have faithfully followed Christ as their Good Shepherd.

Sadly we are losing this generation in large numbers every year. At each funeral, I am blessed to hear their stories about their recovery from suffering and discovery of their life in Christ Jesus. We all must do our part in keeping their legacy fresh by recalling their life’s stories.

My TIE. Reflections

As I reflect on the Greatest Generation from all sides of the world, I realized that they lived during these tough times without the assurances that world-wide freedom would be achieved. They chose to respond to life with hope over despair. They chose hope despite what they saw in their world’s cruel realities.

I believe the greatest honor we can give those we know and love from the Greatest Generation is to choose to live with a greater hope over the dismal realities we see in our world. In the aftermath of His glorious resurrection Jesus proclaims that greatest generations are those blessed in believing in His resurrection even without seeing. (John 20:29)

Here are some of my thoughts as I have been reflecting this week on how God’s presence is giving all of us an opportunity to be our Greatest Generation:

-          Be victors as He guides us on the journey of life into His eternal presence (Rev. 21:7)

-          Be courageous as His love chases away life’s fears (I John 18)

-          Be confident that God is present with us even in death’s shadows. (Psalm 23:6)

-          Be effective in bringing out God’s glory through adding to faith in the daily grind (2 Peter 1:3-10)

-          Be reliable to continue to do good in times of suffering (1 Pet. 4:19)

-          Be a living sacrifice that leads people to receive the crown of life (2 Tim. 4:1-8)

-          Be a blessing by proclaiming God’s works to future generations(Psalm 45:17)

Oh yeah a verse that best describes everyone who is included in all of God’s great generations.

Be Still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes. (Psalm 37:7)

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