Ivan and John were brought together by the alphabet in basic training. They lined up right next to each other and from that moment on they were brothers. Their time in the service sent them to Okinawa in the Philippines. They were scouts. They went off ahead of the others to scout things out. Scouts didn’t have much of a life expectancy. Ivan and John did every thing together. Even when John got dysentery, Ivan followed suit shortly after. Neither one of them would have made it home from the war without the other. They lived this scripture to its fullest.
John 15:13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
There were days upon days spent in fox holes. On one particular occasion, Ivan went to launch a 10 second grenade. John asked which pile Ivan had taken it from only to realize that it wasn’t a 10 second grenade. He grabbed it out of Ivan’s hand and threw it saving both of their lives. At one point, they were being taken over by the Japanese. To prevent capture, they both laid face down on a pile of dead bodies and played dead. The Japanese literally walked over their backs. Initially, all my dad had ever said was that he was in hand to hand combat. Stories like these have multiplied my respect for what my dad and John went through. They laid their lives down over and over again not just for other soldiers but for all of us who enjoy freedom today.
What am I willing to sacrifice? My life? Small sacrifices of my time or money are often accompanied with whining. Countless mission experiences don’t compare to the level of sacrifice this scripture calls us to. Learning these stories has caused me to reevaluate the gift of freedom we have in this country and my willingness to sacrifice for others. My dad and John spent the next 50 plus years as brothers looking out for each other and each others families. Their lives of sacrifice didn’t end on the battle field. After my dad’s death in 2000, John faithfully called my mom every week to check up on her. He did this for over 11 years until his passing.
So, I’m spending some time in deep reflection. Freedom is a tremendous gift that I take for granted and I’m repenting for an attitude of entitlement. Now that my dad and John no longer walk this earth, how do I pass this on to my children so they appreciate the sacrifices others have made them. How do I take steps into living this scripture outwardly and boldly? It’s a tall order. Leave a comment and share your story of sacrifice. We can encourage each other.