I often think about our servicemen and women who are fighting overseas. Many come home wounded in body, and many more in spirit. Although I personally could never go to war or become part of the military, these men and women are ready to give their lives, and many have done so because they believe in a better way.
But what is this better way? How are we to give our lives?
With all the Memorial Day parades and events that took place recently, I had to think of what this “better way” is all about. Like so many others, my own family has seen its tragedy of war. My father and three of his brothers served in World War I, and his youngest brother, the most loved one, was killed just before the end of the war while he was flying a plane over France. The horrors of this war, especially to those who fought in the front line, affected them for the rest of their lives, all because they believed in a “better way.”
During World War II, my mother’s only brother was an officer in the ROTC and refused to fight, so he was sent to Borneo to help the people there grow better crops, as this was his specialty. He was killed when the Japanese invaded as he tried to escape across the country. Both my parents were in London during the bombing in World War II, and only by God’s protection did they live through that time. Through that experience they came to realize that war never leads to a better way.
So I ask again, what is the better way? At the moment I am recovering from surgery for colon cancer. I am only sixty one-years-old, and from what the doctors have told me, my future is at best very uncertain. And now I am faced with having to weigh my options: to either go the route the doctors suggest, which will be difficult at best, or simply leave my needs in the hands of God. What is the better way?
My situation has forced me to reflect on what it means to turn to God and totally trust him. It has also been very humbling to experience how many people, some of whom I hardly know, are praying for me. What a comfort it is when people support and care for each other; it is one of the great gifts of this country that when there is hardship, individuals will rally to reach out and help.
It is this kind caring that has provided me the most support. I now know, more than ever before, how each one of us is faced with a choice: to take things into our own hands, to live self-protectively in fear, or to turn in faith to God, to love and reach out to others—the better way.
Over the years I have had the opportunity to work with and get to know many young people. It is always encouraging to experience their youthful enthusiasm for life. It’s also been a privilege to help direct their lives towards a better way. And I look forward to helping them in whatever way I still can. Some of them will graduate from high school this year. They naturally have visions of a bright future and a long life. Yet hardly do they know (and how can they?) how fast life passes by and that to truly live means first and foremost to place one’s life in complete trust in God.
I don’t know how much longer I have to live, but I do have today to help point others to live for a better way. It is the way I want to go, and the only way where one’s life can be fulfilled.