Sunday, June 28, 2015

For one soldier, July 4th is a religious holiday

Patrick never forgot what happened on his first Independence Day after returning from combat in Iraq. They were barbecuing in a friend's back yard when he heard Pop! Pop! Pop! Assuming it was machine gun fire, he yelled "Incoming!" and dove to the ground with his hands over his head. Then he realized it was neighbors lighting firecrackers. After that, every Independence Day he hid in his bedroom with the lights low, playing college football really loud until the popping ended. No more July 4th for him. Now, three years later, his son Lucas was seven, and eager to see fireworks. Patrick had mustered enough courage to march to the alter at church and accept God into his life, so he told fellow members about his terror, and how war never ends for some soldiers. They formed a prayer chain and put his need on Facebook. He was amazed how many wrote, "We're praying for you. You are being loved." So he signed up to run the hot dog stand at the park where fireworks would be set off. But could he endure them?

Patrick's Dad was also a veteran, so he asked him for advice. "Position yourself where you can see the fireworks being lit," his Dad said, "so you won't be caught off guard. And son, the most important thing is to surround yourself with friends you know and trust." At dusk, Patrick got worried. Last year he would have hurried home, but then a voice said, "We've got your back" and he turned to see two church members. Other church friends gathered around him. The fuses were lit. There was an explosion of color. "Look, Dad!" shouted Lucas. "I'm looking," he whispered, celebrating, for the first time, his Independence Day.                 (adapted and condensed from Guidepost Magazine)

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