Most families have ways that they define their members, like, "the wild one" or "the bright one." Sometimes the titles are more descriptive of their occupation like, "the family doctor," or "the family NFL Linebacker." We have those in our family as well (ok, no NFL Linebackers), but recently one of our members made a decision that put him in a league that few belong to.
When Austin decided to leave college and join the Army, I can't say that the family was thrilled. After all, the American Dream is to be educated, employed, married, a homeowner, have 2.6 kids and a Cockapoo, right? I think I can speak for the family when I say that we all wanted the very best for Austin, which in our minds did not include putting his life on the line--for any cause. What we might not have understood was that a soldier is often born inside a man first, even before the first day of boot camp. I know that is what happened in Austin and I am proud of him. I'm proud that he has decided to do something so important, something that most people are afraid of.
Sometimes we look at these young guys enlisting in the military and we think, "they don't know what they are signing up for," or "he is too young to understand the dangers." But really, what they do is to define bravery for us. Every reference of bravery that I can think of from the bible describes a military hero. They...he, Austin, believes in a cause, or at least his role in the cause, so completely that he willingly becomes the defender. He puts his body in front of a man with a gun and faces him so that his family won't ever have to. He may not have understood completely what signing those enlistment papers would mean, but who of us ever does know where we will end up after we take a step of faith? Austin joined the military confident that this was to be his contribution to the world, and I know he still believes that--I believe that.
So, we've called him a lot of names over the years--sweet and maybe not so sweet. To call him our family hero is a name that I think he will wear well. Austin has such an intensity of focus in his calling that he will see it through with excellence. I recognize this in other men and women who have stepped out of the crowd to serve others. Not a civilian like the rest of us, Austin has the weight of his country on his shoulders, but he is strong--God is strong for him.
Austin, I was just thinking about you a lot today, this being a day to remember heros. We love you, we pray for you everyday, we are grateful that you fight for us. Be vigilant, you can rest when you come home. We can't wait to have you on this side of the world again, see you very soon!
(Austin is the 3rd from the left)