Friday, August 10, 2012

A Hero On Facebook

I have to admit, I’m not a huge fan of Facebook. Facebook makes me feel guilty. Every day I wake up to a new onslaught of messages, quips and greetings from friends and family from all over the world. I can’t keep up! My real life is busy enough already and sometimes I feel like my cyberlife only threatens to clutter things up even more. The thing is though, the only way I ever find out some of the stuff that happens to the people in my life is through Facebook…which sort of hacks me off. And even though I really want to hate Facebook…I can’t. How can you hate something that’s (quite honestly) so helpful? Case in point: Charles Hardage III.

Now I’ve known Charlie Hardage and his family for over 20 years. We all attended the same church back in Texas, and Charlie’s dad and I served as elders together for a few years. I watched Charlie grow from an ornery, little elementary school kid into an ornery, not-so-little adult. Charlie and my son Ben were good buddies through their high school years, and after Charlie headed off to college, it was usually a fun time when he came home on break. He was always good for a laugh and overly eager to tease and cajole whoever came within his sights. After graduating from college, Charlie went to work for one of those big name hi-tech companies based in the Nashville area, but it didn’t stick. Charlie was one of those guys who were deeply affected by the events of 9-11. Much to everyone’s surprise, one day Charlie quit his white collar desk job and enlisted in the US Army (See Below).

This is where Facebook steps in.

A couple of days ago, I saw on Facebook that Charlie Hardage was shot on Friday, August 3, 2012 in Afghanistan. I don’t know all the details. All I know is that he was shot through the neck, the bullet exited out his shoulder…and he’s alive! I silently lifted a prayer of thanks to God as I sent off a quick text to Charlie’s father—letting him know how grateful my wife Amy and I were that Charlie was alive.

Now, I love Afghanistan and the people of Afghanistan. I had the privilege of co-leading a Flatirons men’s trip there back in April, and it left an indelible mark on my heart. What we saw and experienced in-and-around Kabul was nothing but warmth and openness. But needless to say, it’s still a very dangerous place…especially for our troops stationed out there. That sobering fact was only hammered home by today’s headlines; 3 US Troops were gunned down and killed in Afghanistan on Friday. And right now, there are 3 families dealing with the tragic news that their son, their brother, their husband or their friend was killed in action in a land so far away, and so foreign, that it almost doesn’t seem real. And I’m almost certain that these families are all asking, “Why?” The truth is, there are no good answers that will erase away those questions… and doubts…and pain. As followers of Jesus, we can only turn to Him and ask for peace, for wisdom, and for help in the middle of all those questions. Isaiah 55:8-9 tells us:
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.
 “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
I know this to be true. I’ve seen this truth lived out in my life, and the lives of those I love. Still, I have a hard time working through this great truth. I’m sure I’m not the only one who wants to know why God does some things the way He does…and why He doesn’t always act the way I want Him to. Especially in times like these. I sit here at my desk thankfully rejoicing with my dear friends the Hardages because Charlie is alive…and I also sit here with a broken heart for the families of those 3 soldiers who didn’t get the good news that my friends the Hardages got. And over the next few days, weeks, months, and years theses families will have to “walk through the valley of the shadow of death” with the heavy cloud of “Why” bearing down on them.
No doubt about it…Charlie Hardage is a hero…and so are the 3 soldiers killed on Friday…and every other troop who has either died or put their life on hold to defend our freedom. Charlie has some serious injuries (including a couple of fractured vertebrae), but it looks like he’s going to fully recover and will soon be home where his wife and soon-to-be-born daughter await.

I hope you’ll join me in prayer for Charlie and for the healing hearts of the families who have lost loved ones in this on-going struggle. Let’s all pray that they will reach out and turn to the only One who can bring the healing and peace they need…and that they’ll lean on another great truth found in Psalm 34:18:
 “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”
Amen to that.


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