Just recently, I learned of a hidden discipline going on in our home. Nick thought it up and has been implementing it daily for two months. He makes me laugh.
Like me, Nick loves country music. We laugh when singers croon about trucks and tractors and beer. I break into my scolding Granny voice and wag my finger in the air at Kenny Chesney when he sings because he never can seem to write a song without the mention of tequila or beer. So I scold a high-pitched, “Kenny, you need to lay off the liquor! You was RAISED better than that!” Nick and I laugh again.
For the most part, country music is pretty tame and we love the patriotism shown by many in its ranks, both musicians and fans. For example, we have a country music station here that plays
The Star Spangled Banner every morning, sung by different country artists.
So one day Nick decided it would be a good idea to get out of bed at precisely 5:55 each morning, leisurely get dressed, and . . .
At precisely 6:03, he stands at attention, faces our front yard flag, covers his heart with his right hand, and waits. At precisely 6:04, The Star Spangled Banner is sung. He can’t see the flag from his bedroom but he knows it’s there. And he told me that he thanks God every day for letting him live in this country where we are still free—kept free by men and women giving their lives.
Nick loves our military. His favorite poster depicts two soldiers carrying a wounded third soldier by the shoulders with the caption, “Leave No Man Behind.” That phrase means much to him, he says, because “God leaves no one behind.”
Nick is one who could easily be left behind in life. He was an orphan in Russia—one of a quarter-million at that time. He has numerous disabilities and knows he could never serve in the military he loves, barring a miracle. But he serves in God’s army every day. He prays. He loves. He works with the best equipment in the universe that never rusts or decays—prayer and love.
And God loves him and never leaves him behind. God sees him and hears him every 6:04 standing in his back bedroom alone, giving thanks. God has a purpose and a plan for him and is fulfilling it daily, though often we don’t see. Because even though Nick can’t see the flag from his back bedroom, he knows it’s there, waving in the wind. And he knows God is working in our lives, even when everything looks like it’s falling apart. God is still there—always.
We had high winds recently that snapped off the top of our tree trunk flag pole. The flag was hurled to the ground. Carefully, our Boy Scout wrapped his country’s flag in the traditional, triangular manner. Our flag pole has no flag for now until a new pulley system gets rigged.
Nick still rises at 5:55 every morning, gets dressed, and at precisely 6:03 he stands at attention facing our front yard flag pole without a flag. And with his right hand over his heart, he waits for the singing of The Star Spangled Banner at 6:04—the anthem of his country. And he still gives thanks to God in the midst of brokenness because the flag that stands for “Leave No Man Behind” has a greater meaning.
Nick believes in the God he can’t see. He believes in the God who leaves no one behind—man, woman, or child. He believes there will be a new raising one day. He believes in love. And hope. And freedom. And the power of prayer.
Ever felt left behind? Overlooked? Unattended to in your brokenness? Our God is a God who sees and heals. If God can see a little baby in a Russian orphanage and bring him half-way across the world into a home who knows Him—if God can see a 15-year-old boy who’s half-deaf and will never pass an Army entrance exam, barring a miracle—if God can see and love and work miracles though one such as this—through something as small as a prayer spoken each morning by a Russian/American teenager, what can’t our God do?
The Star Spangled Banner, last stanza, by Francis Scott Key, 1814
Oh! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war’s desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heav’n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: “In God is our trust.”
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!