I love my country.
I hold those that serve to protect and defend her so very dear to my heart.
And the families of the fallen– well– they take my breath away.
So when news began to circle Sunday that a Navy SEAL had lost his life, I was filled with heartbreak. With a knock at the door, another Gold Star family would discover the fate of their beloved son. Husband. Father. Friend.
I love my job of bringing hope and help to America’s Gold Star families…a mission of which so many of you have personally supported and taken part in. But I hate it when the ranks of those we serve grow because of an enemy.
William “Ryan” Owens, I am sorry we never got to meet this side of heaven. In the next few days, the news outlets will cover your life and talk about your death. Already my social media pages are filled with photos of your big smile and beautiful face. The loss that your parents, wife, children, and loved ones are feeling — I can’t even begin to imagine.
But Ryan, I’m going to make you a promise.
I’ll keep your picture in front of me every day. I’ll keep your family in my prayers. And in my own personal battles, I’ll do everything I can to take the fight to the enemy– just like you did– instead of letting him continually attack. I’ll refuse fear and self pity. I’ll continue to march forward and when I’m tempted to give up, I’ll remember your loved ones and fight on. I always imagine the fallen soldiers of the families we serve up there in heaven when I think of this scripture:
“Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him, endured the Cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12
I always envision my soldiers… the sons, husbands, brothers of those Gold Star families that we serve, up there in heaven, watching us down here on earth. It’s as though we are on the field and they are in the stands. They cheer us on and continue to shout, “YOU CAN DO IT! GO HARDER! Faster! Fight forward! If you could only see the spiritual army that is with you! The angels! The Lord Himself! You fight FROM victory, not FOR it! Go GET ‘Em!”
And especially in the Message version:
“Do you see what this means– all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running– and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we are in. Study how He did it. Because He never lost sight of where He was headed– that exhilarating finish with God– He could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever.”
I don’t know if what fires me up or moves my heart– moves yours. But for me, when I think of all of our fallen heroes in Heaven, when I think of what they gave their last breath for, I think it is then my responsibility to make the most of the life that their sacrifice has given me. When I look at the photos of them in my bathroom every morning as I apply my own warpaint (makeup) I think about not giving up in my own personal battles. And even though you and I may not know Ryan personally, we can make his sacrifice count for us personally when we decide that the loss his family faces will not be in vain as we strive to make the best out of the freedoms that his sacrifice paid for. When we look at the pains and struggles we face and realize that his family faces far greater and they bore those burdens willingly over the last twenty years KNOWING that the knock at the door could come at any time.
And to the family and loved ones of William “Ryan” Owens…my condolences. My most sincere heartfelt sympathies. From our family to yours, our love and deepest respect. You will continue to be in our thoughts and prayers. There is no comfort I can offer except to let you know that your son’s sacrifice will continue to spur THIS family on. And I’m hoping that after our readers are through with this article…they will feel the same.