This is Memorial Day week-end and it is traditionally the beginning of the summer. While the calendar doesn’t yet officially tell us it is summer for another month or so, the running of the Indy 500 is reason enough to declare it summer in central Indiana and throughout the midwest. And today, as has been our tradition since he was born, Andrew and I sat and listened to the race on my trusty radio that I have had since I was in my teens.
The race gets blacked out here in Indiana unless the Indianapolis Motor Speedway declares a sell-out crowd, approximately 350,000 people. While this happened back in 2016, it is a rare occurrence due to the size of the track. If you have never seen it, the track is almost beyond description. Suffice it to say that the Indy 500 is the largest single day sporting event in the world.
As a kid, I listened to the race each Memorial Day week-end with my father, on his Toshiba transistor radio. I had chores to do, like cutting back the iris and painting the front railing each year. While Andrew and I try not to work on race day, I usually recall those days with my own Dad cheering for A.J. Foyt or the Unsers. And it was 50 years ago, in 1969, that Mario Andretti won his only Indy 500.
But the race, even in spite of its size, doesn’t take precedence over the real reason for Memorial Day – to honor those Americans who have served and lost their lives in the defense of our great nation. In fact, this weekend belongs to honor the memory of those who have given everything, the ultimate cost, for procuring and defending our freedom.
While we rejoice and honor all men and women who have served and fought, we are grateful that we have not lost more Americans in the wars and conflicts that we have been engaged in. Even as a boy, marching in the Memorial Day parades down Longwood Drive, or riding our bicycles decorated with red, white and blue crepe paper, the solemnity of the day was first and foremost in our minds and hearts.
Of course, it is tradition that cookouts and barbecue grills dot the landscape this weekend and it is not unusual for thousands of grills to be left behind at the speedway as hundreds of thousands of people exit to go home after a full day of indulgence at the track. In fact, this evening, we had our first real barbecue of the season as well!
The United States is not the only nation that has lost significant numbers of people in battles and wars. World wars have cost many countries vast losses that continue to remind us that wars are not over and that people can’t seem to settle their differences without physical conflict. When will we learn?
The Israelites were no exception. They fought many battles at the request of the Lord, but there were also times that they advanced without the blessing of God and they paid dearly for their encounters. And Jehoahaz was one of the kings that led his people into sin. Tonight’s verse illustrates one of the times that the his army didn’t fare so well. We are told in 2 Kings 13:7, “Nothing had been left of the army of Jehoahaz except fifty horsemen, ten chariots and ten thousand foot soldiers, for the king of Aram had destroyed the rest and made them like the dust at threshing time.”
My encouragement this evening is that God looks for our obedience and wants to bless our efforts that are in accordance with His will for our lives. My prayer is that on this Memorial Day, we will all remember the sacrifices that have been made for our country and not take our freedom for granted. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…