I had the privilege along with many others in our community to attend the Veteran’s Day program at Cornerstone Elementary on Friday. The third grade class put on a wonderful program to honor our Veterans. Many of the students had parents, grandparents, and even great-grandparents who served our country in the Armed Forces. They sang songs, read poems, and thanked our veterans and their families for their sacrifices. My daughter Chloe was one of the sweet voices that sang the patriotic songs. It was so touching to hear their voices and see their sincerity as they said “Thank You” to those who helped give them freedom.

One of the most powerful parts of the program was a presentation of the White Table at the front of the auditorium. Mrs. Heidi, the librarian, told us the story of America’s White Table by Margot Theis Raven. It’s a book for Veteran’s Day that teaches children about prisoners of war and those who are missing in action. The White Table is set in many mess halls as a symbol for and remembrance to service members fallen, missing, or held captive in the line of duty. Solitary and solemn, it is the table where no one will ever sit. As a special gift to her Uncle John, Katie and her sisters are asked to help set the White Table for dinner. As their mother explains the significance of each item placed on the table, Katie comes to understand and appreciate the depth of sacrifice that her uncle may be called to give.

"It was just a little white table...but it felt as big as America when we helped Mama put each item on it and she told us why it was so important.”

"We use a small table, girls," she explained first, "to show one soldier's lonely battle against many. We cover it with a white cloth to honor a soldier's pure heart when he answers his country's call to duty."

"We place a lemon slice and grains of salt on a plate to show a captive soldier's bitter fate and the tears of families waiting for loved ones to return," she continued. "We push an empty chair to the table for the missing soldiers who are not here..."

The thought of those soldiers missing from the table brought tears to my eyes. We take our freedom for granted so easily. So many have sacrificed so much so that we can live the lives we do. Others have given all they had to give. Our veterans deserve our respect and thanks.

As terrible as physical war is, do we consider the souls that are under the power of sin to be prisoners of war? Do we consider our brothers and sisters in Christ who have gone back to a world of sin as missing in action? Let’s not forget that we are involved in a spiritual battle with Satan every day. Remember the words of Paul to the church at Ephesus:

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to with-stand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.
(Ephesians 6: 10-13)

Paul describes the spiritual armor that God provides for us in the verses that follow in chapter 6. God provides the helmet of salvation, the shield of faith, the breastplate of righteousness, the belt of truth, the sword of the spirit, and the readiness given by the gospel of peace. Despite this armor, some will still be taken captive by the enemy. That is the very wording that is used in the Bible—taken captive. These souls are in a real sense POWs. Paul told Timothy to be gentle as he taught because those he taught were prisoners of the enemy.

And the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.
(2 Timothy 2: 24-26)

Does the thought of these precious souls being captured by the devil cause the same emotion in us? Do we forget them and leave them behind? Let’s never forget the souls that have been taken captive by the enemy. Let’s do our best to bring them home to the family and around the Lord’s Table.

~ Mike