By Tommy Rush

Yesterday we had a special luncheon at First Baptist and honored Veterans for their military service. Every Veterans Day I send a note to a dear friend who has been an amazing blessing to me and my family for over 30 years. John Meredith lives in Auburn, Alabama and even though he’s an Auburn fan I still consider him a great friend. John has faithfully served in Youth Ministry as a volunteer for over 40 years. I can honestly say that I have never seen a person give more of themselves to the encouragement and support of young people than “Mr. John.” My son recently turned 38 and hardly a week goes by that he has not had contact in some form or fashion with John. He literally is like a second father to not only my children, but to hundreds of others.

I’ll never forget the day I had a pastoral visit with John’s elderly father. As we sat together he told me a story about his son’s life that I never heard from John himself. John had served as a Lieutenant in the Marines during Vietnam. He told me how every night he would pray for John and the soldiers under his command, because he knew the extreme danger they faced each day. His father told me how John grieved the loss of every soldier he led and how he and his wife prayed for God to help him not only to survive Vietnam, but to come home with his sanity and a good heart.

John’s father told me that he knew God had heard his prayer when John told him his plans for traveling the country to visit the family members of the soldiers that had given their lives under his command. He traveled for almost an entire year and wrote numerous letters to those he could not personally visit with. John also devoted the rest of his life to serving young people and teaching them about the love of Jesus. He continues to this day, pouring his life into young people. His father told me, “When you see ultimate sacrifice up close it changes your life.”

Another soldier saw sacrifice up close almost 2000 years ago. Scripture tells us that when Jesus died, a Roman soldier said, “Truly this man is the Son of God.” He had seen many people crucified. He evidently was well acquainted with death, but something about the Lord’s death on the cross impacted his life. Maybe it was the phrase, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Maybe it was the love of Jesus for the thief who died next to Him or maybe it was the words, “It is finished.” I’m not sure what it was exactly but the sacrifice of Jesus for sin that day changed the man’s life forever. It will change anyone who will place their faith in His atoning sacrifice.

If you’re not sure you know Christ, God may be bringing you to the foot of His Son’s cross right now as you read this article. I hope you see His great love and sacrifice and I pray you will put all your trust in Him today!