This week, we finally get to step off the last plane home and place our feet firmly on the comfortable terra firma we once knew. All the trauma we went through in the Makong Delta immediately after we crossed the “rainbow bridge” is about to start its own process of becoming some of our own distant memories. The welcome home celebration parade’s about to start–and the Johnny they’ve waited for so long to finally come home is off the plane (namely YOU–battle scars and all)!
But as the color guard processions, the marching bands, and the grand marshal floats greet you and lead you back home (that is–if you are so fortunate even to get this VIP treatment at all) can’t ultimately make up for the heartaches, pain, and PTSD you’ve suffered through. The crowds may enthusiastically welcome you back to the old hometown–but they’ll never truly know what it took for you to be doing this in the first place.
And for some, I can’t even promise you that your story will wrap up as nicely and neatly as we would normally imagine it would on TV or the movies. In fact, there are a number of cases where you might not get a welcome home parade or even a decent funeral at all–and there won’t be anyone waiting on the tarmac to greet you either.
I one time heard an interesting story about a missionary who came home on a steamship to the U.S. after many faithful years of missionary service to an African country. When he got to port, it turned out that someone of major stature in that era like President Theodore Roosevelt or someone else like that happened to be sailing on that same ship.
As both men were getting off the ship, the more prominent figure obviously received a much warmer hero’s welcome and enthusiastic reception after his recent world travels. As for the missionary and his wife, sadly there was absolutely no one to greet them at the dock upon their arrival. The missionary upon realizing that no one was there to welcome him and his wife home after many years of service to the Lord and the work of the Gospel inquired of the Lord about this dismal reception. The Lord responded back to him–”…You aren’t home yet.”
The Lord admonishes us all in Ecclesiastes 11:1 & 2–”…Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come and the years approach when you will say, “…I find no pleasure in them.” Regardless of how small or large your welcoming party may be when you get back home, it will be you who will be the biggest carrier of the legacy of memories that you’ll share with others who’ll follow after you. Only you will truly be the one who will be able to tell the story of leaving the ones you had to leave behind at the “rainbow bridge” or the shots that rang across the Makong Delta that left you wounded and beaten to a pulp.
Anyone who’s still left cheering for you at the parade as you turn homeward bound won’t have an idea of the struggle and effort it took for that band of brothers to get you to the Saigon City airport or the cries and desperate pleas others made to get the seat on the plane that you were privileged to have. Therefore it will be part of your job from here on out to be the accurate storyteller of the stories you personally know best.
After the crowds leave for home, they’ll never know the sense of relief that you got back from some of the worst H-E-double hockey sticks of your life somewhat physically damaged, but certainly forever changed. They’ll take for granted the creature comforts of life that you’re just now getting reacclimated to and are simply grateful to God beyond measure. Please forgive them for what they might do or not do. Don’t be so quick to judge them–for they haven’t been in your shoes. Understand that you’ll be looking at that picture album with that band of brothers in it long after the three-day weekends others may take of cookouts, outings at the nearest lake, and road travel end and everyone else goes back to their workaday world.
Just instead remember that when it may come time for that special speaker for the next weekly Rotary Club meeting, Boy Scout group, or church, it may be you they’ll be calling to give that speech about why it should matter that those in attendance should honor folks like you. You’ll hold a very important key to lessons others may never get to learn UNLESS YOU speak and teach about them first. Our young people especially will never learn the things they need to remember most about their Godly legacy and traditions without your role in passing them on.
This will be the time above all else when you’ll need to step things up a notch–not just for yourself, but for others, too–for this will be YOUR chance to make every moment you still have available in this life count as part of the legacy on His behalf that you might leave behind for others to follow. And it could be YOUR story of how He enabled you to overcome that will also inspire generations to come.
(More on this next time–with a slightly different twist involved considering the upcoming Fall Holy Days/Festivals to come, of course…) Besides–now’s not the time to have that big party just yet. And as you’ll hopefully begin to see next time, there’s still some time on your clock left (but not much..)–and guess what? In case you haven’t noticed, you’re STILL NOT home yet. Until next time (as He graciously allows), we’ll see ya at the CROSSroads–
CoyRH At The Crossroads