To be the best: To excel, to outdo all others, to reach a level of accomplishment unsurpassed in one’s field. And for a brave young man I know—my good friend’s son— it means even more than that. It means to be willing to lay down your life, to sacrifice your freedom that others might live…
“Pat-Man, I need your help.”
“Are you okay?” I said. “What is it?”
“They’ve called him up again.”
“They’re sending him back over there. I called to ask for your prayers.”
As he explained the situation I could hear the fear in his voice. I assured him I would pray for his son, and that everything would be all right, but my heart felt heavy as I hung up the phone. His young man had just gotten home, retired from the military and started a bright new career as a firefighter and EMT, and suddenly, without warning, they had decided to call him back. It didn’t seem right.
“But that’s not fair,” I said. “He’s already given so much. Why can’t they just leave him alone?”
But deep inside I knew the reason why. It’s because he’s one of the best shooters in the U.S. Army. One of the elite. The best of the best.
Now I’ve known many brave 1st responders: police officers and firefighters, EMTs and paramedics. Men with tough jobs who work hard to save other lives. But this young soldier has the hardest job of all. Surgical removal. One shot, one kill.
“A sniper! Wait a minute,” you say. “How can that be right?”
Well first of all, that’s war. But tonight when you’re lying in bed, comfortable and warm and leading a normal life, consider this too: God has a divine plan and He uses men to accomplish it. Men who are willing to follow and obey, to use the gifts He gave them, and to serve without question regardless of the cost.
Look at King David, that humble shepherd boy. He attacked and killed the giant Philistine with a simple sling and a stone. And what about Samson, the man empowered by God to kill a thousand Philistines with the jawbone of a mule? You see, some men are asked to do the job no one else will. And when I consider this young man’s sacrifices, his skills and his God-given talents, I suddenly understand what it means to be the best: It means to do whatsoever your hand finds to do, and to do it with all of your might!
So, Lord, please tell him how proud I am to know him, how much his sacrifice means, and how much I appreciate his willingness to fight…for my family, for my country, for my home. Honor and bless him, Lord. Grant him the strength to do his job well—with all of his might—and then bring him back home again so that he, too, may enjoy the blessings of liberty for which he has fought.
*Dedicated to a good friend’s son whose name must remain unspoken. Thank you! God knows you’ve made a difference.
Pat Patterson is a novelist, a paramedic, and an instructor of Emergency Medical Science. His stories are true, based on real experiences from the streets of Durham, North Carolina where he has served as a paramedic since 1992.