The Past Gives Believers Hope For the Future

The sound of engines slowly roused the three airmen sloshing about the Pacific Ocean on the morning of May 27, 1943.  After a day o415th_Bombardment_Squadron_-_B-24_Liberatorn the open sea, the airmen who had miraculously survived their a crash landing began to experience a little hope. As they looked towards the sky on that cloudy morning, they saw  it, a beautiful B-24 flying high above them. Louis Zamperini, grabbed the crew’s flare gun, braced himself against the back of the rubber raft, and fired. The flare went up, arched, burst into a greenish hue, and then slowly flamed out. But the plane above didn’t change course. Soon it disappeared. The the sound of the engines faded behind the noise of the ocean’s waves. The three men clinging to the two 6’ long rubber rafts now almost faced certain death.  They had no compass, map, or method of propulsion.

The searches were over. The following day, the U.S. War department would declare all 11 men on Louis’ plane dead. For forty-seven days, Louis and Phil would float aimless about the Pacific Ocean. Mac, the tail gunner, died from exhausting after about two weeks adrift.

But Louie and Phil kept fighting. Yet, things never got easier. They had to fend off shark attacks with their fist. They had to contend with extreme hunger and thirst. They had to bail the water out of their boat for hours while they were tossed about by a typhoon. Each day seemingly only brought more trouble, more disappointment, and more hardship for the men. But they kept going because they remembered their families. Specifically, Louie would describe in-detail his mother’s cooking. He would go over every course of every of meal. It was the memories of the past, that enabled Louie and Phil to survive adrift in the ocean until they were finally rescued on day 47.

men at seaAnd though none of us have been left adrift on the ocean, most of us how felt as like we were drifting aimlessly about the ocean of life at one time or another. And every day we bob about, we face a new struggle, a new sickness, or a new adversary. As Christians how are we supposed to handle the hardships of life? How do fight the temptation to give up when we face never ending attacks of lust, when we feel spiritually parched, and when we are tossed about by the storms of life? How do keep going with no end in sight?

We remember. We remember what Christ has done. It is the glory of the cross that gives us the strength to face tomorrow. This is why Christians need to partake regularly in the Lord’s Table. We need to be reminded of all that God has done for us. We need to be reminded that we have been liberate from sin. We need to be reminded that the wages of sin our death and that the gift of God is eternal life. We need to be reminded that Christ shed blood on the cross has brought us life. We are changed not because of our efforts. We are changed, we are redeemed, and we have hope because of what Christ has done. And because Christ had done the work. We cannot undo it. We are forever with Christ regardless of what today brings. Therefore, we have hope because of what has been done for us!

This Easter season, we should be excited to take the Lord’s Table because it reminds us that we have been delivered from our sin. Though there is a real and coming judgment, Christ blood has done all the work of redemption. We take the table to proclaim what Christ has done. “And he said to them, ““This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many”” (Mark 14:24). And as we take the elements, we preach to our hearts the encouraging truth of the gospel. We remind our souls that we are the redeemed.  

It is good for us to remember all that Christ has done. It is good for us to observe the Lord’s Table. Jesus is our hope! The cross shows us how to make sense of today and gives up hope for tomorrow! Is the past informing and transforming your life?

War Heroes, Manly Men, And Jesus

 War HeroLike a lot of guys, I consider myself to be a slightly adventurous kind of Dad. Perhaps some things I enjoy are a tad adolescent. But I think there is a certain undeniable element of manly joy that can only be found while buzzing at my wife with toy helicopters, watching war movies, and holding my son in such a way that women everywhere scold me.

These past few weeks, I have been excited to delve into the stories of Louis Silvie Zamperini and Chris Kyle. With both men, you have tales of resilience, bravery, and victory against insurmountable odds. When I read about how Zamperini drifted in a rubber raft for over a month without supplies or of how Kyle dove back into combat with leg infused with shrapnel, I was hooked and wanted to know more about these men. Hoorah!

Bravery Is Not Everything

kris KyleBut as exciting as those stories are, we must remind our souls and our sons that acts of valor do not usher one into manhood. In both stories, the men were actually undone by their wartime feats. At the conclusion of WWII, Zamperini returned to America a drunk tormented by nightmares of his Japanese concentration camp commander, the “Bird.” And Chris Kyle’s battlefield experiences in Iraq left the sniper a bar fight enthusiast who struggled to connect with his wife and kids. As both men learned, bravely fighting “savage, despicable evil” does not necessarily make someone great man (p. 4).

Biblical View of Manly Men

For us and our kids to be godly, heroic men, we don’t have to paint our faces with animal blood, hit home runs, or have a wall collapse on us (though there is nothing wrong with any of these things).  Rather, we have to acknowledge that the greatest evil is not “out there, somewhere” but within us. We have to come to grips with the wickedness in our hearts and stop believing the lie that we are “basically good people.” As Jeremiah wrote, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it” (17:9)? To be great men, we must humbly submit to the command of Christ.  And Christ Louis zapis what made these men great.

Louis Zamperini embraced Jesus in October of 1949. And once he repented of his pride, the former aviator found immediate relief from alcoholism and the nightmares. Because Zamperini had been forgiven much by God, he was in turn able to forgive his captors, creating an incredible story of hope and redemption!

And though Kyle also struggled with adjusting to civilian life, he too found his hope in the Christian faith. By trusting in Christ to deliver him from his sinfulness, the former SEAL was able to make sense of his life and save his marriage.

At the end of the day, the manliest of men are not the ones who buzz their wife with a toy helicopter (I know, this is a no brainer), run in the Olympics, or earn the most sniper kills in U.S. history. The most remarkable men are those who embrace Jesus and follow him with all their heart soul, mind, and strength (Mat. 22:37).

Works Cited

Kyle, C. (2012). American Sniper. New York : HarperCollins.