How to be God’s “Unknown Soldier”

National Cemetary in Beaufort, SC

I frequently visit the National Cemetery in Beaufort, SC. It’s where both my mother and father are buried. While gazing at the tombstone of my parents, I began to see more clearly their hidden wisdom – messages I was too arrogant or immature to understand at an earlier age. These previously unknown virtues now begin to shine in my life.

While there, I visit a few other tombstones. I am especially attracted to those marked “Unknown”. I think it says something profound about our society that the military would bestow such an honor on a person whose name, rank, or branch of service is unknown. It says that the honor bestowed on those buried in this National Cemetery is not based on family name, status in life, prestige, wealth, or any act of heroism. The honor comes from one point of origin: service. The Unknown Soldier served his or her country, and the country honors this act of service.

I also see a heavenly connection. In the cemetery, all the tombstones are arranged, military fashion, in neat columns and rows. They’re all white marble, and mostly uniform in size. I think of the passage in Hebrews describing the saints in heaven as a “cloud of witnesses… fixing their eyes on Jesus.” (12:1-3) I imagine they’re all glowing, facing in the same direction, and uniformly worshiping and adoring the one true God. The National Cemetery helps me conjure up a beautiful image. The Unknown Soldiers have a place in this heavenly realm, an equal status.

Where the ‘battlefield’ is this crazy world, I can be God’s unknown soldier, performing acts of loving service behind the scenes. As Jesus commands, I can be the invisible salt that flavors the mix and leaven that causes things to rise. I can do good works completely unknown by all but my Father in heaven “who sees what is done in secret.” (Mt 6:6)

Jesus said, “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”  (Mt 25:40) I often think of ‘the least’ as being the invisible members of our society. Maybe what they need most is an army of unknown soldiers to help them along.

This week, look for ways to perform those hidden, unseen acts of kindness and join the ranks of God’s unknown soldiers.