On April 14, 2004, Jason Dunham proved that he valued the life of his friends as much as his own.
On that fateful day in the spring of 2004, Cpl. Dunham was leading his patrol near Husaybah, Iraq, investigating an attack on a U.S. Marine convoy. His patrol was intercepting vehicles suspected in the attack when an individual in one of the vehicles attacked Dunham. During the fighting, an insurgent dropped a live grenade to kill all of the U.S. Marines in Jason's convoy.
In an effort to save his fellow soldiers from certain death, Jason Dunham threw his helmet and body on the grenade, taking the impact of the blast. Cpl. Dunham died eight days later from his injuries. His buddies all lived. Jason Dunham was 22 years old.
While war is not the answer to man's conflicts, it is often an arena in which people's character, depth and values are forged and even tested. Jason Dunham valued the lives of others above his own that day.
What about you? What is it that you value?
Many people will tell you they love their car, their job, their dog—or even their laptop or MP3 player! And many will say how much they enjoy good music and certain movies. Others will even talk about how important certain friends and family are. But honestly, what is really important to you?
A person's values are formed through all he or she has experienced or learned in life. Parents and family, religious affiliation, friends and peers, education, jobs or careers and books we read are all involved in defining what we value.
Wise people recognize these influences. They try to identify and develop a clear, concise and meaningful set of values, beliefs and priorities.
Once defined, values impact every aspect of our lives. Whether we know it or not…
• We demonstrate our values in action in our behavior, decision making and interpersonal relationships.
• We use our values to make decisions about priorities in our daily work and home life—our general use of time.
• In the end, our goals and pursuits are grounded in what we value.
So what do your values consist of? Rather than just getting a piece of paper out and writing down the "things I value in life," let me offer a few questions for you to answer. Whether you are 15, 25 or even older, answering these five questions can likely help you assess what your values really are right now.
1. What do I do with my time? How do I spend my time throughout the day? Do I listen to music? How much time do I spend in front of the television? How much time do I spend on my cell phone, doing homework, reading novels or even reading the Bible or praying?
2. What do I wish for? We all have hopes and wishes, especially when we're young and have our entire lives ahead of us! Is it better looks, no pimples, more money for better clothes? Is it friends and opportunities to make a difference in the world?
3. What upsets me? What troubles me these days? My clothes not being new enough? What people think about me? When people make fun of what I believe? Not having enough hot sauce in the refrigerator for my nachos?
4. What makes me happy? Do I thrive on attention from others, particularly those of the opposite sex? Does money, wealth or things (new phones, MP3 players and the like) really excite me? Or is it helping other people and seeing a need fulfilled in a person's life?
5. What do I think about? Do I daydream? If so, what's the topic of my mental wanderings? Boys? Girls? The next thing I want to buy? The next movie I want to see? Or do I think about God and His plan? Do I think about the troubled world we live in? Do I pray and talk with God about these things?
What makes me tick?
The apostle Peter told the Church in 1 Peter 2:9 that they were "a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people…" God considers us very special! But what does that mean to Him? Peter continued the thought saying "…that you may proclaim the praises [excellence] of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light."
Clearly, God expects His people to live a life that shows honor toward Him and all He stands for. The only way this is going to happen is if what we value in life is good, meaningful and purposeful.
One of the wealthiest men who ever lived asked a basic question about life: "What profit has a man from all his labor in which he toils under the sun?" (Ecclesiastes 1:3). Israel's king Solomon was questioning whether life was more than just the things one acquires.
In chapter 2 of Ecclesiastes he went on to list all of the things that he did, wanted and had! This passage shows that he had it all—mansions, great wine vineyards, gardens, pools, maids and butlers, horse stables, gold and silver and a lot of bling (flashy jewelry), and even live music performers (verses 4-8).
These things were important to Solomon at the time. He valued them all very much. But as the years drew on, he realized these things he valued did not bring real happiness! Solomon learned the hard way that he valued the wrong things.
Our values affect our future
As was mentioned earlier, what we wish for, what makes us happy, what we get upset about, what we do with our time and what we think about are all indicators of what we value right now in our lives.
God is preparing for a world to come in which real peace will prevail. He is preparing a small group of people now to help usher in this new age. Does that include you?
If it does, it bears asking this question: Are your thoughts, wishes and dreams made of the things and ideals that speak to this new world, this new future for mankind? Many of you have the knowledge of this soon-coming Kingdom and the way of life it will represent. God encourages us to seek this way of life and future—and not allow the physical things of life to so distract us that we lose sight of this incredible future!
He tells us that the things of real value and worth are seated in the plans and throne of God (Matthew 6:19-21). Christ tells us that if we focus on those things of spiritual value, God will take care of us. If our choices, use of time and what we think about are focused on the future Kingdom of God, He promises to provide the physical things we need to sustain our lives, be content and happy (Matthew 6:33).
Jason Dunham, mentioned at the outset, gave his life to help his comrades. On April 14, 2004, he valued the life of his friends at least as much as his own. Eight days later, he died, proving what he valued. Jason's actions resulted in his posthumously receiving the highest honor for bravery in his country, the Congressional Medal of Honor.
We are all given a chance to fight a spiritual battle that will secure a lasting peace exceeding the outcomes of all the wars in our world. God gives each of us the chance to be a part of something much more lasting than the temporal peace the armies of mankind may bring.
However, our active part in that future government depends, to a large degree, on what we value now. Right values enable us to represent the government that will bring peace to all. They also help us prepare to assist our elder Brother, Jesus Christ, in His administration.
Are these things worth it to you? VT