In the same way, there is joy in the presence of God’s angels when even one sinner repents.” Luke 15:10
It wasn’t what they deserved. On any given day, each day is dedicated to this or that. There is National Polar Bear Plunge Day (that was January 1st—seems July 1st would have been a better choice!) Then there is World Introvert Day (its ok…don’t be shy about it.) A personal favorite of mine is National Buffet Day. And then of course there is National Chocolate Covered Cherry Day followed by National Trivia Day (anybody want to guess what day?) Well, on and on the list goes. Believe it or not those are all from the first few days of January.
It turns out the day I wrote this was a very special day indeed and I suppose very few people had a clue about what it was. I know I didn’t until I got an email from the Armed Forces Exchange Services. These folks run the stores that are located on all the Army and Air Force bases and as a veteran I am allowed to shop online with them. They sent an email honoring a special group of men and women—the veterans who served during the Vietnam War Era—November 1, 1955, through May 15, 1975. While those who went to Vietnam are an elite part of this group, I think it special they included all those who were a part of the Armed Forces during that period.
These brave warriors never received the welcome home they deserved. Our nation was a hot mess in the sixties and one of the reasons was the war in Vietnam. And, instead of taking it out on the politicians, many, too many, chose to take it out on the men and women who were simply doing what they were ordered to do. They were cursed and spit upon and as if the scars of war weren’t enough—they were subjected to the anger and ridicule of their peers. It grieved my heart then…and it grieves my heart now.
Well, the years have gone by and as the sand slipped through the hourglass these warriors grew older. In days gone by when you saw an older veteran, wearied, and bruised by time and hard times, wearing a shirt or cap signifying their service, you just assumed they were from World War II or perhaps Korea. Now there is a good chance that aged warrior served in the Vietnam era. I know I served from 1972 to 1984 and I find myself knocking on the door of seven decades. Time marches on.
Sadly, the time to say thank you to our World War II and Korean veterans is just about gone. Fewer and fewer of them remain with us and slowly the same can be said for our Vietnam warriors. I hope you took every opportunity to recognize those veterans from World War II and Korea. Now I hope I will, you will, we all will afford our Vietnam veterans the same honor. Not for all but for many there is still time to say, “Thank you for your service.”
No, there simply weren’t enough appropriate homecomings back in the sixties and early seventies but I am glad there is one place where every person can be welcomed home and that is heaven. No, not every veteran, in fact not every person, will receive that welcome because not every person will be going there. You see, the welcome sign is out and the invitations mailed but no amount of service to your country, no amount of being good and doing good can earn you this homecoming. This one comes by believing in the One who fought and defeated sin and death—and His name is Jesus.
Granted it is a narrow way but at the same time it is wide. The invitation to be part of the family is open to any man, woman or child who is willing to repent and believe. Simply put—if you are willing to say yes to Him—He is more than willing to say yes to you. And when you do, if you do, there will be a bigger party than you can imagine. Jesus said, “In the same way, there is joy in the presence of God’s angels when even one sinner repents.” In other words, God wants to throw the party of the century for you. He can’t wait to welcome you home.
So, many thanks to all the active-duty warriors and veterans but at least today—a special thanks to those who served during the Vietnam era. And if you went over and you didn’t receive the welcome you deserve then, well, just know God’s got one planned for you when you finally get home. Why not go ahead and say, yes to Him today. Think you’ve messed up too badly? Think God could never forgive…you? Don’t you worry—He’s got this. Bro. Dewayne