For our family, patriotism is believing in something that is bigger than one’s self. Our patriotism stems from the ideals that led to the birth of this nation.  A belief that a nation might exist where we all might experience freedom. This ideal is a generation away from extinction and it is incumbent upon all of us to realize we have been called to live for something that transcends our very life.

As we look at the world we can clearly see the devastation and consequences of sin. War is ugly. It’s messy and confusing. At our best we hope that the our nations’ wars are fought to free the oppressed and protect the world from tyranny and terror. At times throughout our nation’s history we have failed at this.  This should not detour us from serving, but cause us to double our efforts.  Those who seek to bring justice in the world must do more than commentate or protest from the sidelines, we must engage.

In the thirteenth chapter of the Gospel of John we are told they will know we are disciples by our love. They will know we are disciples by putting others before ourselves. In our family, that means serving in the Army.

War frequently doesn’t always look like “loving one another.” The war against terror has split our family apart during birthdays, anniversaries, multiple Christmas Days, and even the birth of a child. Serving is hard. Patriotism should be hard. This service, this patriotism, has provided our family one of the clearest pictures of Jesus’s love for us. The story of the cross is a story of God’s own son choosing to lay down His life for us.  We learn, through our small acts of service, God’s great act of service for us.

Last Christmas, and as we prepared to be apart for yet another holiday, we prayed:

“As we rejoice and remember Christ’s first coming, help us to rejoice in advance for His second coming. Help us to hope and pray for the day when He brings all the mommies and daddies home to their babies. When there is no more war or death that separates us. When our families are restored. When God reigns again.”

Until the day Christ returns, we hope you will find our family being patriotic. We hope that we will be found putting others ahead of ourselves. Maybe that will mean staying in the military community. For in this community we have served and stood beside some of the most selfless people we now call friends.

This week as the fireworks go off, the flags are raised and the grills are lit, take a second to pray. Pray for the people who long for the day when their families are restored, for the kids who try to make sense of it, and be thankful for the men and women who believe in something bigger than themselves.

May we all choose to live for something bigger than ourselves.

DREW & ADRIENNE ROBINSON  |  Drew and Arienne are the son-in-law and daughter of Zane & Sherrie Smitley of Northpark. They are currently serving in Washington state with their four children.