Remembrance and Gratitude
“… God has said, “I will never, under any circumstances, desert you nor give you up nor leave you without support, nor will I in any degree leave you helpless, nor will I forsake or let you down or relax My hold on you, assuredly not!” Hebrews 13:5b AMP
The instructions and promises throughout Hebrews chapter 13 are a powerful balm to the soul, and I can just imagine that Heaven is filled with the prayers of believers across centuries who have whispered, groaned, and shouted these scriptures in heartfelt prayer to the Lord.
This passage of scripture has been near to my heart in the past year and a half as a military spouse—when life changes quickly in the military, I trust in the promise that the Lord is forever steadfast.
It feels very appropriate for one calendar month to hold Veterans Day and Thanksgiving—both are days of remembrance and gratitude. Last week, NDP president Kathy Branzell shared a heartfelt “Thank you!” to the men and women of the military for their service and sacrifice.
We cannot be thankful for what we do not remember—that is why throughout Scripture, the Lord reminds His people to look back and remember His faithfulness and provision, and tell those testimonies to ourselves, one another, and the world.
Our NDP Task Force network and family includes many veterans, and in this season of thankfulness, we join them in glorifying God for using their season in the military to prepare them for further ministry.
The Kentucky state coordinators, Spike and Ellie Latimer, spent 23 years in the Army following Spike’s commissioning in the spring of 1972.
“Through my years in the military, I experienced God molding me and preparing me for opportunities to serve God and love others,” says Spike. “My walk with God that started in those years of military service are best summarized by Proverbs 16:9 – ‘A man’s mind plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps and makes them sure.’”
Spike learned to trust the direction and wisdom of the Lord—lessons that serve him to this very day that he faithfully passes on to those he serves in Kentucky and across the NDP network. When the Army taught Spike to grow in knowledge from his training, the Lord was forming an open heart that seeks the Lord’s will and wisdom in every new challenge. All the while, his wife Ellie was serving at his side as a spouse and learning to lean on the Lord for provision and strength.
“I’m thankful for the unity that I felt among the wives, and the support and the encouragement we received from one another,” said Ellie. “We were all at home away from our families, and we learned to be a family within our military community.”
It is easy to draw parallels between the military and the church. Both the military community and the church can become a family; a support system and a place to serve one another sacrificially in times of need. When the military community becomes another place of service to one another, spouses like Ellie reinforce God’s design for the body of Christ to be characterized by holy hospitality and loving care.
Rick Carbajal, the New Mexico state coordinator, and his wife, Theresa were also profoundly shaped by the time the Lord appointed them to serve in the military. As a young airman in the Air Force, Rick was taught the Air Force’s core values: Integrity First, Service Before Self, and Excellence In All We Do.
“These core values are not original with the Air Force; they find their roots in the bible,” says Rick. “His Word declares that we should be a people that walk in integrity, from Proverbs 2:7. Jesus, Himself, declared that He came not to be served but to serve from Matthew 20:28, and we are instructed that everything we do should be done with excellence as unto the Lord and not to man, from Ephesians 6:5-7.”
From basic training all the way to the days after retirement, the Lord has rooted Rick’s life into these values, teaching Rick to honor and glorify His name in every situation or circumstance. A godly man of integrity, service, and excellence in the Lord shines a bright testimony in the world!
For his wife Theresa, the Lord strengthened her faith and reliance on Him through challenges and opportunities during their time in the military.
“As I reflect upon being a military spouse, I have many things to be grateful for, but the one that stands out the most is God’s steadfast love, mercy, and never-ending faithfulness to me personally and to our family,” says Theresa. “God has seen me and our family through it all. Because of this, I will proclaim the words of hymn writer Horatio Spafford, ‘Even so, it is well with my soul’ and I will give thanks.”
Theresa’s example of living at peace in the Lord through every victory and every trial is a testimony to the work of the Spirit in her. The military life has plenty of challenges, but instead of letting her heart grow bitter, her heart grew deeper roots in the love of the Father.
While we continue expressing gratitude for the ways the military has prepared so many of our brothers and sisters in Christ for continued service in the Kingdom of God, during Thanksgiving, let’s all remember and tell—remember God’s faithfulness, wisdom, and guidance, and overflow in gratitude by sharing those stories and testimonies in the coming days and weeks. It can be surprising when the stories start flowing around the table and friends and family members begin to remember and tell together, sometimes sharing details or perspectives that have been forgotten in the passing of time.
Will you pray with me?
Lord, You are the Author of my Days—You prepare and equip me for every good work that You have called me to do. Thank You for the members of our military who have faithfully served, and who continue to live out the lessons that serve to glorify You. Throughout the year, remind me to be grateful for our military and to keep them in my prayers. Just as they see Your hand molding them through their military service, open my eyes to see You molding me through the events of my life. Prepare my heart for this extended season of thankfulness, to ponder all that You have done, and dwell in gratitude. In Jesus name, amen.
Peace and blessings,
Communications Coordinator, National Day of Prayer Task Force