Greater Than We Deserve


Every now and then I come across something written by someone else that so perfectly encapsulates what I believe that it remains with me forever.  I suspect this piece written by David French at National Review Online will be something that I never forget:

There is a place near my home — in a rural county in middle Tennessee — that is especially beautiful. A dirt path leads off from the main road, through a hay field, up to an old barn nestled just at the base of a small hill. It’s like a scene from a painting. For some reason, every time I drive past (which is often), I’m struck by a sense of gratitude — for my family, for the church and school community that so enriches our lives, for the simple pleasures of peace at home — the meals with friends, the long treks to volleyball tournaments, and the joy of watching my kids struggle to train a new puppy. I’m grateful because I understand that there is nothing that I did to truly “deserve” the life I’ve been given.


For years, I tried to deserve it — to convince myself that if only I was a good enough citizen, striving to be a good husband and father, working in my community to love and support those less fortunate, and using my law degree to defend liberty, then I could one day reflect on my life with satisfaction — with a sense that I’d given more than I’d taken. 
Then I went to war and learned of debts that can’t ever be repaid. It’s one thing to read in the history books of barely trained militia staring down British regulars from the top of Breed’s Hill, or of the horrible slaughter on Burnside’s Bridge at Antietam, or to watch movie depictions of Omaha Beach or even combat footage from Fallujah. It’s another thing entirely to stand in silent attention as a friend — a brother you’d just talked to hours before — is loaded onto a Blackhawk helicopter to begin his “hero flight” home. It’s another thing entirely to embrace a grieving father next to the flag-draped casket of his son, another brother you knew and loved. 
That’s when I learned — to paraphrase a character in a recent summer movie — that there’s “red in my ledger,” red that I can never turn to black. Christians are familiar with this concept. The blood of Christ grants a gift of eternal life that we cannot possibly earn. Here at home the blood of our warriors — spilled for liberty — has granted us a nation greater than we deserve. Yes, millions of Americans have worked for more than two centuries to build the families, the businesses, and the civic institutions that make the America we live in today, but the predicate for all those actions is a combination of peace and freedom purchased at the highest price.

Go here to read the rest. “A nation greater than we deserve.”  I have always believed that and I have always been profoundly grateful for this country.  We live in a time of profound ingratitude to those who came before us, and an obscene sense of entitlement simply because of the “special snow flakes” we all are.  History laughs at our pretensions and I fear that better men than I will pay a fearful price indeed down the road due to this attitude of  lack of patriotism and the taking for granted of our American birthright of freedom.  Everything in this Vale of Tears, except the Grace of God, has a price tag one way or another.  Sometimes we pay the price tag, and sometimes it is paid for us when we are children, or when we collectively act like children. 


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  1. Even the Grace of God has a price – the life of His only begotten Son. The Lord hates ingratitude. God save me from mine!

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