Seventy years ago today (for the sake of clarity, “today” means February 19, when I am writing this article), Operation Detachment began. It was the beginning of a desperate five-week battle in which three U.S. Marine divisions, ultimately totaling 30,000 men, secured the little volcanic island of Iwo Jima. Most of us have seen the iconic photograph of men raising the American flag on Iwo Jima at the top of Mount Suribachi. What we may not know is that event occurred just four days into the battle, on February 23. At that point there was more than a month left in this brutal fight. A lot of brave and frightened boys were there that day, performing a duty that none of them wished had fallen to them to perform.
Duty is not a terribly exciting word for most of us. When something is considered a “duty” for us, it is rare that we feel exhilaration at the prospect. Duty is more apt to be described as something that we are resigned to perform. Yet duty is an important part of our lives. As children, we have a duty to obey our parents. As parents, we have a duty to care for and provide for our children. To love one another is a duty, especially for husbands and wives (I know, not very romantic sounding, is it?). Most importantly, to walk in the way that Christ has walked is a duty. Although we pray that as we grow our attitude and perspective will continue to mature, duty is something that may not always cause excitement in us. There are certainly times when it is fun or invigorating or even relaxing. At other times it can be very difficult, or even frightening. At all times, however, we are bound by the duty that God has assigned us to be his people in this world.
I pray that our time together today in worship is more than duty—that it is exhilarating, invigorating, challenging, and encouraging.