I have been blessed in this life in so many ways. But one of the greatest blessings I have to be thankful for is that of my older brother Aaron.
My brother has always been my protector…
As a small boy (and I do mean small – I didn’t get huge till late in life) I remember my brother placing his scrawny frame between me and a bully 4 times his size, showing with courage beyond his years that no one was going to treat his kid brother that way.
I can remember back to Marine Corps basic training, when I broke my ankle and sat wallowing in self-pity, my brother flexing his newly acquired muscle as a 1st Lieutenant in order to check on me (this was unheard of at Parris Island – he actually called my Drill Instructor).
I can remember more than once, my brother protecting me from my own destructive self, and showing me that someone really does care about me.
My brother has always been my mentor…
Aaron is one of the smartest people I know. He just has a knack for figure out extremely complex problems. He (along with some other friends) taught me to ride a bike, how to build a laser (don’t ask), how to overcome my lack of natural ability in math, how to get in shape for boot camp, how to program software (my voaction before Seminary), and so much more.
Now his mentoring has taken on new form, as he shares spiritual wisdom, maturity, and Scriptural truth with me whenever we have a chance to talk. I am grateful for his constant prompting and encouragement in all that I have undertaken over the years.
My brother is my friend…
Though we bickered like most children as kids, my brother always made it apparent that I came first, even above his other friends. He included me in all games and sports, though I wasn’t the fastest or most coordinated. Thanks to him, I never got picked last for a team in the neighborhood games of basketball, football, wiffleball, etc.
In college, he always made time for me in his busy schedule. We ate lunch together once a week, and he took me flying with him when he was working on solo hours for his instrument rating.
When he was commissioned as a military officer, my brother promptly ran out of the ceremony, ducking and dodging everyone who wanted to salute him first to get his silver dollar (a tradition for all new officers), and tracked me down, so that I could be the first, and receive this prize.
Through all of the ups and downs, my brother has been there for me, and I count him as my closest of friends.
My brother is now serving in central Baghdad, Iraq. He is on the front-lines of the “war against terror”. My brother was not ordered to go. No, that would not be his way, because my brother has the heart of a volunteer. He left his wife and son to serve for the next year in a foreign country, in a war that is being waged ineffectually, because he felt that he must do this thing. Not because he wants to participate in war, but because he has opened his life to God. And God has called him to this place at this time for His purposes, whatever those may be.
My brother has a heart for the Iraqi people that he is serving with. I don’t want to put words into his mouth, but I know that his heart breaks for these people who have seen endless grief, death, and tragedy. I believe that is why he is there – to somehow offer himself in whatever way he can to help those in need, and to be taught a lesson in how to love as Christ loves.
I miss my brother. I feel his homesickness and long for him to be here, safe, with his family. I support him with every ounce of my being, yet I am ashamed that our country has failed, and that our people are still there. He shouldn’t have to be there. Let me be there instead.
I am praying for my brother, and I ask for your prayers too. See, my brother is more than just my protector, my mentor, and my friend.
He is MY BROTHER. And I love him.