I came across a news report about a woman who had waited 60 years to learn what had happened to her husband in World War II, but she never got an answer. She was told he was missing in action, that he was coming home, that he was buried in a grave in France, and then she was told it wasn’t his grave. She contacted her representative who sent back a letter stating he was still MIA—Missing in Action. For 60 years she waited for the young man she had married just six weeks before he left for the military.
Peggy Harris’ cousin decided to find out exactly what had happened. He obtained Billy’s military record, where it clearly said Billy was killed in action and buried in Normandy, where he had been all that time. But that is only a small part of the story. The small town where Billy perished, Les Ventes, has a main road named Place Billie D. Harris, where they have marched every year to commemorate his sacrifice. Injured and his plane going down, he desperately maintained control of the plane to keep from hitting the village, which caused him to go down in the woods. He saved many lives that day and died a hero.
Peggy had waited 60 years to find out what happened to the love of her life. Because she had no definitive report of what had happened, she chose to wait for him or some word of him, just in case. And now, she knows. Peggy now visits Billy’s grave and the town of Les Ventes, where she is greeted with the honor due to a hero’s wife.
This heart-wrenching story could probably be repeated time and time again of men, and women, who served, and while doing so, died a hero’s death. Some may never know what their loved ones had accomplished in their short lives, even though there are others, in another part of the world who are tremendously grateful.
None of us know what one action, one word, one consideration will do for another person in the long run. While we will probably not save a whole town by steering a plane away from it, it is possible that the one person to whom you show concern, help out of a tight spot, help work through emotions of anger, grief, or loss, will come out of that dark night a changed person because of Christ working through you. Years later, when they tell their children or grandchildren how their lives were changed. You will have been a part.
Sacrifice. The word scares us; it brings to mind martyrdom and pain. In fact, the greatest sacrifice was one that took a King from His throne. He left that place of honor and praise, of comfort and splendor, and traveled to a land where he was not recognized, where he had to work as hard as anyone else because he had become one of them. When the day finally came, and he began to reveal his true identity to the people for whom he had come, he was accepted by a few, but many rejected and mocked him. Knowing what was coming, he continued preaching God’s Word, healing the sick, setting free those held captive by sin and evil, comforting the lonely and the weak.
One day this King was dragged away, beaten, literally tortured. Then he was taken to Golgotha where He was crucified. While many shouted jeers at him, there were those gathered in the crowd who remembered His touch, who were there because of His healing hand. The woman who received her dead son back. Jairus, whose daughter had been dead but was alive again. The woman whose daughter was so out of control that she literally begged Jesus for help, and so many others. These knew who He really was, but they could not have known, at that moment, what His death would mean for them and for all the people on this earth.
We long for the moment when we will see Jesus, some of us waiting up to a hundred years of life. We know what Jesus did for us, that His death provided the bridge that would reunite us with our God. But there is one more thing: Although others cannot see Him today, they can know Him through our lives and sacrifices.
Hold on, my friend. Don’t stop believing. As you wait for the moment when you will see Jesus face to face, will you live as Jesus lived, touching hurting lives and making a difference? Will you be Christ’s hand extended to others, doing the work that He showed us how to do? You may never know, until we meet in heaven, what your actions will mean to those you touch and to those whose lives they will touch in return.
Mary Kay Glunt, Pastor
Ebenezer Presbyterian Church
P.O. Box 393
Greenfield, MO 65661