You could hear a pin drop in the theatre as American Sniper concluded. The audience worked it's way out into the snowy night. We scraped our vehicles of ice and ventured onto the slippery roads, likely the most dangerous trek most of us would take in some time. Soon we'd be home, safely in the suburbs, tucking our kids into bed, over-indulging on a late-night snack, and praying to God for more safety and more blessing and more goodness and more indulgence tomorrow.
War is horrible. It shaves off layers of humanity and exposes the darkest, most harrowing, and desperate side of our souls. And as our selves are laid open raw, feats of courage and heroism beyond our human capacity emerge. Sometimes things must be broken before they are restored. We are the same.
It's sad, all this fighting on Facebook with everyone taking up their arms to name the cowards, this side or that. Bombs are dropped from planes and missiles are launched from keyboards and the casualties are many.
I went to see the movie with a former Marine. I'll never know his experience. I am thankful that he served. I am thankful that he's now home raising a wonderful family. I work alongside a military veteran everyday. Today was the first day I thanked him for his service.
Years ago, I heard a pacifist pastor teach that he believes God values life in every circumstance. He closed by raising the question, "If someone stood by the water supply for your community, prepared to poison your friends and family, what would you do?" Most agreed that we value life and that we'd be prepared to protect life.
The talking heads in the media work to sell advertising. One of the best ways to do this is to draw a hard line in the sand and ask us to choose a side. They want a fight, and we oblige battling each on social media. Hiding behind screens, calling out cowards, the hate masked in righteousness.
I pray often for peace as I live in the brutal reality that is our world and the hatred that is ingrained and rooted generations deep. Yet, I believe that there is a future hope that involves His Kingdom coming and His will done on earth as it is in heaven. I believe there is a future hope absent of world wars, free of Facebook fighting, and where every tear is wiped away.
After seeing the movie, I won't set my sights and focus my scope on those with whom I might disagree. Rather, as I better understand the tough, ambiguous decisions that must be made on the battlefield, I will pray for their service and their safe return. As I better understand the families at home who sacrifice at levels most of us will never understand as their loved ones serve, I will look for ways that I might love and support them. As I better understand the mind-jarring difficulties of PTSD and the hope of recovery, I will empathize with their pain. As I enjoy the benefits of freedom, I will consider the cost. And as I better understand the depths of depravity that is our world, I will further long for the Prince of Peace who has overcome death and will restore all things new.