Memorial Day will arrive soon in the United States. Dinners, picnics, barbeques, parades, short vacation trips, etc. will mark the day or the weekend for many.
In the past, this day was known as Decoration Day, a time to remember the war dead, those who died in military service to the country.
Sometime during this weekend, I will make the trek to the cemetery where my parents are buried, clean the gravesite, and post a small American flag. My father, who served in both WWII and Korea, and my grandfather, who served in WWI (and is buried elsewhere), deserve that much honor on that day.
I recently re-read A. W. Tozer's devotional, "This World: Playground or Battleground" (read it by clicking the link in the title of this post), and this inspiring essay reminded me of why the Christian life on this side is not an exercise in play, but an exercise in warfare--spiritual warfare, but warfare nevertheless.
We have a mission. We have a commander. We have an enemy.We have cohorts. We have ground to be conquered and held. We have a final accounting to attend. We have honors and rewards to reap at the end of our assignment. If that's not battleground work, what is?
It would be really nice and really easy and really acceptable (in some circles) to view the Christian life as a playground experience: ask God for what I want, wait for it, cry if I don't get it, or look for a way around "no" when I don't like "no."
Somewhere, deep in my heart, I know that's not right and I know that's not what it's all about. Taking up my cross, denying myself, following when I feel like falling (and staying down!)--that's what it's about. That's what I have committed to as a Christian. That's what I will be rewarded for.
When I go to the cemetery this weekend, I will decorate a grave and celebrate the lives of those who lived well on the battleground and completed their assignments. Tozer was right: it's a battleground, and the rewards wait for those who know this, who fight the good fight, and who look for rest and reward from God's hand when He calls them home.
You can read Tozer's essay here.