War Stories

War Stories of Grace and Thanks

I remember standing in the heat of a third world country; the smell of garbage, feces and ocean water permeated the air.  I looked around and saw women and children living in tin shacks made no better than something my kids make in our backyard.  Inside these tin shacks; they cooked, slept and raised their children.  During the day, the women and children would wait for the garbage trucks to come and it would be like a mob, fighting to dig through the garbage to find scraps of food or items to sell.  If the kids were lucky, they may find a broken toy or a ball to play with.  The biggest prize was paying a fee to a local warlord for the privilege of rummaging through the trash left by Americans, Trash kids as we waste good food and throw away items these people would normally pay a premium for. Our trash was like a Christmas feast to these people.  For all the blessings, abundance and privilege I have each day, I give thanks to God.

Another time, I sat on the floor on pillows.  The temperature was upwards of 120 and the flies would bother you relentlessly.  I sipped my scalding hot chai and talked with a Muslim friend of mine.  We had been talking about being fathers and raising our children when he asked me a profound question. "Do Christians in America hate Muslims?"  I looked my friend in the eyes and told him that I cannot speak for all Christians but I believe that we are all people of the book, all God's children.  Muslim Family I told him that Jesus' message was of peace and loving one another, not fighting or judging.  My job as a Christian believer was not to preach or judge but to be a living example of the teachings of Jesus' and to build bridges to all people, not just those of certain faiths or ethnicity's.  With tears in his eyes, the man told me that he and I would be lifelong brothers and though the practice of our faith was different, God would bless us and he was forever in debited to me.  For building bridges and seeing that even though we stand on different sides of faith, we all want the same basic needs in life and for our families, I give thanks to God.

I sat frustrated trying to find a clever way to explain to my children what grace meant.  The best I could come up with was doing something, for someone who doesn't necessary deserve it and overlooking my own personal needs to look out for the needs of others.  Afterwards, I realized that I will not always have all the answers.  I cannot prepare my children for everything they will face in life.  Self Development only goes so far and eventually we have to go to God.  My job as a father is to model authentic Christianity in my actions more than my words and at times when I don't have the strength or the answers, I have to rely on God and the Holy Spirit to get me through.  If I could just teach this one principle to my children, I would be a success as a father.  For showing me your undeserving Grace, for giving me a beautiful family and for helping me through my darkest of days, I give you thanks.

- Happy Thanksgiving -