“Thank you for your service” is a phrase often used to greet active duty military and veterans as well as law enforcement personnel and first responders. These words roll off the tongue so easily these days with a mixture of sincerity, obligation and political correctness. But how can we show appreciation for these unique groups of people and the dedication, sacrifice, and hardships associated with their jobs?
Mobilize for Military Recruiters
Recruiters serve all over the nation, many in communities that lack a local military installation and support services accessible to active–duty members and their families. Contact the area recruiting offices, stop by for a visit and gather information about any needs they might have. Invite a recruiter to help educate the women about local recruiting activities prior to this service project. Ideas for projects could include: prepare home baked goods and encouraging cards, celebrate birthdays with a special delivery (small cake, balloons, or birthday cards) or host an annual birthday party for recruiters and their families with the women’s ministries group serving lunch or dinner.
Provide Care for the Caring
Our medical ministries focus on patients and residents of nursing homes and rehabilitation centers. The focus could be changed to show appreciation for medical professionals/caregivers and other first responders. Expand your reach by considering service to the emergency room staff of the local hospital, EMTs, physical therapists, doctors, or medical lab workers. Assemble giveaways of individually wrapped candies or cookies in sandwich bags tied with ribbon. Use a simple tag to identify the project such as “Candy (or Cookies) for the Caring.”
Praise the Protectors
We can easily praise those who protect and serve. Write letters of congratulation or send thank you cards for specific acts of heroism highlighted in the news. Set up a booth at a community event. Make or purchase a simple banner and encourage the community to write words of encouragement to an identified group—Police, Fire, SWAT. Present the “gratitude” banner at another community function like National Day of Prayer, or plan your very own prayer event and invite honorary representatives.
Look for fun, light–hearted ways to show you care. Deliver pudding cups with labels that read, “Thanks for pudding your life on the line!” Give Lifesaver candy pouches with the message, “Thank you for being a Lifesaver.” Distribute “Emergency S’mores Kits” including a graham cracker, large marshmallow and three squares of chocolate, with a label stating, “The world needs s’more heroes just like you.”
God is Our Refuge and Fortress
“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress, My God, in whom I trust!’” (Psalm 91:1.2). In more modern times, most of America’s war involvement has been on foreign soil, away from home. The home front was a place where we supported the war effort by purchasing bonds, rolling bandages, building planes and assembling ammunition.
Today, whether at home or abroad, we are all in need of protection. Our world is filled with uncertainty. Often we cannot identify our enemy. Those who wish to do us harm have visited our shores. Dangers abound, and the home front is under attack. Yet imagine this: the Most High God has made Himself available to us as a shelter. His presence is so great that it casts a shadow over all who need safety and security. What an awesome acknowledgement of God’s protection.
The psalmist reminds us that real protection doesn’t come solely from obligation. Police officers are supposed to keep the peace. Firemen put out fires. The military is sworn to defend our country. Each has a mission they are obligated to uphold. We should show our appreciation for all they do for us out of obligation, but God protects us because He loves us. When we belong to Him, our faith binds us to His spiritual presence. Our physical location and the things of this world lose their significance compared to what He offers. He is our home, our refuge and fortress. We recognize His great power and place our faith in Him and His promises. He is all we need.