Tyler Burdette, Iraq…2006
Greetings in the Lord,
I call my article reflections, because most of the time I’m thinking back….reflecting on what God has taught me or is teaching me through past events. It’s these events that help me understand God’s interaction in my life to a better degree. In 2006 I was in Texas at Fort Hood to say good bye to my son Tyler as he was preparing to deploy to Iraq. Tyler would begin this war in Kuwait, but then be sent to Northern Iraq on November 7, 2006. He told us he would be on the second floor of Saddam’s old palace, right in the middle of Baghdad. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t the safest place to be in the world. Tyler was a Calvary Scout, the gunner in a fighting vehicle (the one who sticks out from the top)….he made somewhere around 4,000 missions (sometimes several a day) over 18 months (this included a 3 month emergency extension). He had his Humvee blown out from under him, and came home a veteran of experiences beyond words. Tyler and I share with one another this saying, “You can’t unsee what you have seen.”
And yet, here is what the Lord is teaching Tyler’s Mother and Father. As he left the (relative) safety of America to enter a war zone. Some of the last words he shared with me before he left were, “Dad, I’m not going to Iraq to kill anybody. We’re there to win the hearts and minds of the people.” I knew I couldn’t protect my son. It was way beyond my control. However, I’ve thought a great deal about what God did for us through this trial. Especially as I go through the Passion week of Jesus in my daily devotions. God’s Son was in the safety and glory of heaven, but left it to enter a war zone. He did it for a greater purpose than to only win our hearts and minds. He left heaven to come to this war zone we call earth to die for my sins. In fact. the sins of all mankind. I had great hopes that Tyler would come back from Iraq safe and sound. Sometimes I would wake up in the night or as my eyes opened in the morning my first prayer was, “Father use Tyler for your glory, but my heart’s desire is that you’ll bring him home to me. Please protect him Father! I know he’s your child, and you love him more than I do, but please hear my heart and protect him.” I’ve come to realize God did not have the luxury to protect his son from the effects of the war. Jesus, the Son encountered every fiery missile that could be launched His way, and yet remained–perfect, pure, sinless. And yet He now can sympathize with every trial we face as our intercessor in Heaven. But to win this war on sin, God’s Son had to die. In a battle I had no power to fight and no hope of winning. The King of Kings, the 5 star General of heaven took the place of me, a buck Private. And His Father watched Him die on a garbage heap outside of Jerusalem, but then three days later He would rise from the grave, victorious over death. That is the hope I have. It is the hope we all have! Jesus is The Resurrection and the Life!
So, as I reflect on the lessons God continues to teach me in ways I never would have chosen. I remember and celebrate this Easter that salvation is found in the cross, and our hope is in the empty tomb–All because “God so loved the world He gave His only Son that whoever believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life.” That’s something worth reflecting on.
A Father who sent his son to war,
P.S. The second greatest homecoming I’ll ever experience was watching my son get off a big white bus in 2007 as he came back to Texas. The first, when Jesus comes back for His children.