by Joanie Butman

The funeral for my father-in-law took place last week complete with full military honors. Having never witnessed a military ceremony, I was overwhelmed by the gratitude, respect and honor awarded for Paul’s dedicated and impressive service to his country.  Can anyone not be moved by the mournful melody of Taps?

When I commented on the song at the lunch that followed, I learned that the musician wasn’t actually playing. I felt so disillusioned – like finding out Santa wasn’t real or the Easter Bunny wasn’t coming. The bugler had a recording under a bush by his feet! I was wondering why he was standing so far away. His charade only became apparent because he started early and was signaled to stop. However, he had to lower the bugle to bend down and stop the recording while the music clearly continued playing, momentarily revealing his secret. I suppose you can’t always count on having a proficient bugling soldier available when you need one. 

I missed this episode as I was having technical difficulties of my own. I was supposed to play the Colonel’s rendition of Crossing the Bar I shared last week. I set up a new portable speaker and tested it multiple times before the ceremony. No problem. Nevertheless, it would not play when the time came. As the service ended and they were lowering the casket, miraculously it started working. I asked for a sign that morning—perhaps this malfunction was it. Knowing Paul’s penchant for always having the last word, of course he’d want it played to conclude his final goodbye. What’s even stranger is the file then inexplicably disappeared from my phone.

As impressive as the military honor guard was, it pales in comparison to the reception waiting for all of us who choose faith in Christ. Trust me, there will be no canned music but a celestial symphony heralding our arrival and welcoming us home - particularly for Paul, who came to faith at the very end. I’m sure there was much celebration because Luke twice records Jesus as saying, “there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.” There won’t be any improvisation needed either because Christ is always available to those who seek Him.

The honor reserved for us is awarded not for what we’ve done but for what’s been done for us. By choosing to acknowledge Christ’s sacrifice on our behalf, His cloak of righteousness is draped over us much like the flag on Paul’s coffin. We become children of God complete with the honor and dignity that position entails. Our service to Him in that role is given not out of duty but out of love and overwhelming gratitude.

Will you choose to enlist in God’s service?

Choose wisely.