For me, time had stopped. Or at least, my watch had.
I went to the jewelry department in Sears. I didn’t even know Sears had a jewelry department. I had gone there for a different reason altogether. But I also needed a watch battery. The sales associate helping me raved about their jeweler.
So there I went.
He was serving another customer. I waited patiently. Might as well do some looking nearby, right? This was a shopping center, after all… 🙂
I turned around… and saw something money couldn’t buy. Time had indeed stopped. In that little corner of Sears. In a way that filled my eyes with tears.
A display unlike any I had ever seen before. Beautiful. Heart-breaking. Heart-lifting. Honoring fallen heroes, veterans all, who had lost their lives defending this country and our principles of freedom.
How large was it, Lord… 50 by 100 feet? Huge! Walls were adorned with photographs and stories of each one who is gone. Descriptions of their military service. Where and when their time had stopped.
A large American flag hung like a covering overhead. White paper adorned the walls, giving passersby the opportunity to write their own expressions of gratitude and support for these fallen loved ones and their families.
And in the very center, a sanctuary of sorts. A Missing Man Table. With significance all its own.
The round table — everlasting concern of survivors missing their loved ones. White linen — the purity of their intentions to respond to their country’s call to arms. The single red rose — the blood many have shed in sacrifice to ensure our freedom. The red ribbon — love for our country, inspiring them to answer the nation’s call.
The inverted glass — the missing and fallen cannot partake. Slice of lemon — the bitter fate of the missing. Salt sprinkled on the bread plate — countless fallen tears of families as they wait.
The lit candle — the light of hope living in our hearts to illuminate their way home, away from their captors, to the open arms of a grateful nation. The empty chair — the missing and fallen aren’t present.
And last, but certainly most… Your precious Word, Lord. The Bible — the strength gained through faith to sustain those lost from our country, founded as one nation under God.
Which Scriptures were on the open pages? Psalms 23 through 27. ALL of these convey the reverence, trust and gratitude these families have for You, Lord. Perhaps even that of their loved ones, too?
The jeweler called me over. I could barely speak. Only three words: “That’s so beautiful.” He saw my tears. He explained Sears employees had created it, honoring those they had personally known and lost.
He didn’t have my battery after all. But watch repair wasn’t Your agenda for me that day… was it, Lord? My watch had stopped, but time went on for me. For these dear ones, time had stopped. And they’ve gone on… somewhere.
I hope they (and their families) are with You, Lord. (John 3:16; John 14:6; Acts 16:31)