Monday, May 31, 2010

Paratus Et Potens (Ready and Able)

Since November of 1995 I've been going to a small memorial wall for the 111th Artillery and the 29th Infantry Division. Memorial Day is one of two days that I try to get to the memorial. When I can't be there I look for some other opportunity to remember and honor America's fallen heroes.

Today, I really didn't want to go. I was up at Arlington National Cemetery last month to bury a shipmate from the USS Cole. Work has been busy and I didn't feel up to going to the memorial and playing taps.

I went anyway - and once I got there and the City Parks and Memorials folks started setting up the chairs. Followed by the first couple of guys from the 29th Association, I started to see why I needed to come. Carl, the Adjutant, was grumbling about not being able to get a bugler from any of the local army bases.

The local post of the 29th Assoc. has a couple of D-Day veterans but we weren't expecting any of them to come out as they are getting on in years. Fortunately our weather was sunny, warm and dry. One of our D-day vets was able to come and he brought a photo of some of the men he served with. He closed with a story, about one of the fallen soldiers of the 111th, a LT Wilcox. In the days leading up to D-day they were on a break and the LT came over to talk to this gentleman. The LT asked him if he could go home would he. His response was LT you wouldn't even have time to blink, I would be gone that fast. The LT's response was that he wouldn't miss it for the world. He thought that it would be an awesome spectacle, something to tell the grand kids some day.

Sadly, LT Wilcox never saw the end of the day on June 6th, but men he served with did and remember him. And that for me is the key and the source of importance for Memorial Day and Veterans Day. We who remain, remember those who went and did not come home.

What got me there was a sense of obligation, I've become attached to these men who died before I was born. I was afraid that if I didn't go that there wouldn't be anyone to play taps for them. That brings me to the second man I met who made an impression on me. He was standing toward the back of the folks as they arrived for the memorial service. He stood out like a nail on a wood deck. He was wearing a Retired Chief Petty Officer cap. He had seen a note about the ceremony on the web and had come to ensure that there was a bugler on hand. We had a good bugler to bugler conversation. Finding among other things that we share a dislike for the Digital Insert, and a conviction that the worst live bugler is better than the best recorded bugler.

So while I had gone out of a sense of obligation, God had made provision for my weakness. This is the first time since I have been going to the 29th memorial that there has been another bugler there. We're going to try to get together before Veteran's Day and work out a version of Echo Taps.

Lastly my good friend Ultraguy, a much more prolific blogger than I, put up a post today about the importance of being available and willing, or if you prefer Ready and Able, to speak to others about the Christian Hope in us because of the sacrifice of Jesus. He went through much the same process that I did, and finally submitted to the leading of the Holy Spirit and acted. I'll let him tell the story, He's better at it.

for the full story see

It's the second half of the post but the whole thing is worth reading in my opinion.


As I wrote last September, the Father has seen fit to put a Muslim family from Turkey in the home next to ours as renters. I have prayed earnestly for each of them by name that Christ be revealed to them somehow.

As the vehicle for their conversion, I was thinking private dreams and visions, perhaps a flashy Damascus Road knock-down… maybe a glowing white Bible dropping out of the sky… something supernatural. He is God, after all. Why not?

Besides, who am I to suppose I’d do a good job being salt and light in a notoriously difficult, dangerous realm where I do not speak the language and have no inside knowledge. I’m a writer, not a street evangelist.

Sure, I used to do cold-calls now and then when I was in sales. I was actually OK at it. But that was long ago. It was different. It took a lot of energy. It’s not my bag now.

Thoughts of the family patriarch running out of the house, long, gleaming sharp sword in hand yelling “Allah-akhbar! Get away from my kids!” briefly crossed my mind.

In the previous post I shared how it began to dawn on me how the Father might be orchestrating events to use me despite such fantastic protestations. The kids have become part of the neighborhood scene. They love our dog and find any excuse to engage us with constant questions. They play basketball in our driveway. I’ve lent things to the dad who seems pleasant and humble. We have a relationship.

Last Sunday, as I returned from a worship service and some time alone in a micro-fast (postponing a meal a few hours can do as much to put my ravenous metabolism into spiritual ecstasy as a few days might achieve for some others) I noticed the older boy, age ~10, riding his scooter as I pulled into my driveway.

Getting out of the car, I looked around. Just as had been the case eight months ago, he was alone — highly unusual in our active, kid-filled neighborhood, especially on such a nice evening. I could tell he wanted to talk. The Spirit gently confirmed:

It’s go time; he’s ready; you’re ready; I’m beside you.

I had every reason to brush him off and go inside, but that Spirit-sense stopped me. The boy (whose name I’m leaving out on purpose) related how, at a picnic earlier that day, at a lake, he and his family had witnessed a drowning. The details were less important than his deep, dark, searching eyes fixed on mine as he recounted it.

He went on to recall how, back in Turkey, a friend of his father’s — almost an uncle to him — had also drowned. It was not hard to infer the impression that event must have made — his father’s uncharacteristic grief; the loss of a loving man in his life.

The death of a stranger had brought it all back. He had no answers.

I looked around again. We were still alone in the driveway. Highly unusual.

“You said your brother died, right?”

His words resounded in my soul like the starter’s pistol I’d been waiting for.

It’s go time; he’s ready; you’re ready; I’m beside you, came the gentle, sub-lingual whisper, again.

“Yes, he did.” I heard myself saying… “…but I know I will see him again, alive.”

He stopped scootering in circles just long enough to stare at me.

“Hunh? But how do you know that?”

I wish I could bottle up and convey the total innocence with which he said this.

“Because there was this guy, you see… You remember how I told you about Jesus before?” He nodded silently. “Well Jesus died and came back to life. He promised that if we follow him, we will too. That’s why I know I will see my brother again.”

He asked many questions after that, genuinely intrigued by the concept.


Oh, the kicker? He was born in the city once called Iconium (see Acts 14) — now one of the most conservative Muslim enclaves in that Muslim country. God finds a way…


If you want to show solidarity with America's fallen Heroes the Honor and Remember Flag:

Bugles Across America - If you need a bugler - Or if you are a bugler or want to be one:

If you are a disable veteran or know one:

If you served overseas in a war:

If you served at any time: