A Memorial Day Lesson from TAPS

You may not know that the song “Taps,” traditionally played on Memorial Day and at military funerals, has lyrics. We never hear them sung. The song is usually played on a single bugle, with reverence and honor. I’ve never seen it played without inducing tears. And rightfully so.

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But when you add the lyrics to the song, it makes it even more poignant:

Day is done, gone the sun
From the lakes, from the hills, from the sky
All is well, safely rest
God is nigh.

Fading light dims the sight
And a star gems the sky, gleaming bright
From afar, drawing near
Falls the night.

Thanks and praise for our days
Neath the sun, ‘neath the stars’, ‘neath the sky’
As we go, this we know
God is nigh.

The familiar tune was arranged in its present form by Union Army Brigadier General Daniel Butterfield in July 1862. Pretty soon both the Union and Confederate armies were using the song. They both probably did so thinking that God was “on their side.” More than that, He was “nigh.”

There’s a lesson in that. People were dying in the Civil War for deeply held beliefs regarding slavery, states rights, and other societal mores. The divide was so deep that legions of armies were losing their lives in a seemingly never-ending war.

And yet they were both using a song to memorialize their dead with lyrics that ended: “God is nigh.” And He was. He may not have been “on their side,” but He was most certainly “nigh.”

And He is.

We’re not fighting a Civil War today. But there are great and obvious divides in our country. On this Memorial Day we may be more divided today than we have been at any other time since the Civil War. Social media and national media have emphasized that divide and have perhaps even deepened it.

And yet the promise of Jesus remains no matter the “side” on which you find yourself today in the United States of America:

And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age (Matthew 28:20b).

On this Memorial Day we remember all those who have given their lives so that we have the freedom to believe and express the fact that “God is nigh.” In war time and in peace time, in the midst of political divide, no matter who the next president may be:

God is nigh. 

That’s His promise. He is nigh and hear because He promises to be. He is as near as His perfect Word.

How have you seen evidence that “God is nigh”?

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