Monday, March 16, 2015

To See Him


I was telling a friend today the story of when we first saw our son at the end of Marine Corps Basic Training.

We had not seen him or heard his voice in three months, except that first phone call home, which lasted for only a few seconds.

The afternoon he left, I came home and scoured the computer for information regarding boot camp.  I wanted to know more fully what my son was going to go through.  I wanted to write him more knowledgeably and I wanted to pray for him more effectively.

To this day I am thankful for the dear Drill Instructor's wife who doubtless spent hours and hours following her husband's platoon and chronicling their training.  The website she created offered me a wealth of knowledge.  The most important piece of that knowledge was that family could attend the Eagle, Globe and Anchor ceremony in the next to the last week of training.

This ceremony occurs after a grueling 54-hour training exercise that validates the physical, mental and moral training the recruits have endured throughout their basic training.  The recruits complete this event with a nine mile hike from the training grounds to the Iwo Jima flag raising statue at the Parade Deck.  They line up in horseshoe formation for this ceremony and at the conclusion they are handed their Eagle, Globe and Anchor, symbolizing their transformation from recruit to United States Marine.

We booked a night in the tiny non-military housing on Parris Island as soon as possible.  I told my boss that if I had to "crawl on my hands and knees through broken shards of glass," I was going to be at that ceremony.

We determined right away we were not going to tell Noah we were coming.  If something happened and we couldn't be there that morning, we didn't want him to be disappointed.

The morning of the final march we were positioned outside our room to watch the recruits as they all marched by.  I thought I would be able to easily recognize my son, but all of them looked alike.  Once they passed, we headed to the Parade Deck and the Iwo Jima statute.  Try as I might I still could not tell which one was my son.

When they lined up, I used my camera lens to search for my son.  I had a problem, though, as the view finder kept filling up with tears.

I had read to bring a washcloth or hand towel because you would need it.  I was glad I had because we passed that washcloth around several times to wipe our tears.

At the end of the ceremony, as the now new Marines were heading back to their barracks for a huge meal and a well-deserved nap, we were allowed a quick hug.  It has been almost thirteen years ago, but my eyes still fill with tears when I think of that moment.  Father and son fell into each other's arms for a long-awaited embrace.

I had hoped to have some pithy words of wisdom when I saw my son for the first time, but I could barely choke out that I loved him and was proud of him.  Then he was gone again.

I never imagined how much I would be affected by this ceremony, the accomplishment of my son, and  I having him in my arms again.  It was one of the most moving moments of my life. In my heart it is solemn, sacred and almost too dear to tell.

"For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall no prevent them which are asleep.  For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:  Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.  Wherefore comfort one another with these words."  (I Thessalonians 4: 15-18.)

There is coming a day when we as Christians will see our Lord face to face.  There is no way we can imagine the impact of that moment when we are finally with Him.  There is no way to imagine something so incredible.  Every spectacular moment of our lives -- even seeing my son again at Parris Island -- will pale in comparison.  For "when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is." (I John 3:2.)

Face to Face
by Carrie Breck

Face to face with Christ, my Savior,
Face to face—what will it be,
When with rapture I behold Him,
Jesus Christ Who died for me?


Face to face I shall behold Him,
Far beyond the starry sky;
Face to face in all His glory,
I shall see Him by and by!


Only faintly now I see Him,
With the darkened veil between,
But a bless├Ęd day is coming,
When His glory shall be seen.


Face to face I shall behold Him,
Far beyond the starry sky;
Face to face in all His glory,
I shall see Him by and by!

What rejoicing in His presence,
When are banished grief and pain;
When the crooked ways are straightened,
And the dark things shall be plain.


Face to face I shall behold Him,
Far beyond the starry sky;
Face to face in all His glory,
I shall see Him by and by!

Face to face—oh, blissful moment!
Face to face—to see and know;
Face to face with my Redeemer,
Jesus Christ Who loves me so.


Face to face I shall behold Him,
Far beyond the starry sky;
Face to face in all His glory,
I shall see Him by and by!




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