16 June 2010

War Heroes

Recently I read THE PACIFIC, a book written by Hugh Ambrose, the son of the late Stephen E. Ambrose who was the author of BAND OF BROTHERS. The latest novel chronicled the lives of five men and their comrades who were in the U. S. Marine Corps and the Navy during World War II. The battles on the sea and on the land were fought in the Pacific Ocean and the enemy, of course, was the Empire of Japan. The loss of lives on both sides of the war was extremely high. There were battles on some Islands that would be unknown to many of our citizenry like Cape Gloucester and Peleliu. The more familiar ones were Iwo Jima, Guadalcanal and Okinawa. During the latter part of the war the Japanese realized that they were on the loosing side so they began to use drastic measures to destroy the American aircraft carriers, destroyers and other ships. The Kamikaze were suicide attacks by military aviators from the Empire of Japan against Allied naval vessels in the closing stages of the Pacific campaign of World War II, designed to destroy as many warships as possible (Wikipedia). Thousands of lives were lost and scores of ships were damaged or destroyed.

While visiting with our son in Texas, we drove over to San Antonio to visit the Alamo and other places of interest. We were privileged to spend the night in the historic Menger Hotel which is located just across the street from the Alamo. My wife and I, along with our daughter-in-law, were sitting in the beautiful lobby of the hotel and I was listening to a couple of older men exchanging stories of their experiences while serving on a particular ship in the Pacific Ocean during World War II. Both of them wore a cap with the name of the ship on it. The more I listened to these men talk, the more I realized that the book THE PACIFIC was coming to life. I got up and moved over to the couch where one gentleman was sitting so I could hear what they were saying more clearly. They were relating how their ship was being hit by bombers and not fighter planes. One gentleman said that he was the only one who survived in his immediate group while serving in a lower compartment of the ship. The other gentleman related that he was the only survivor of his company at a gun turret when another bomber hit the ship. Their ship sank but they were rescued. They were staying in the hotel where their annual reunion was being held by the surviving members of their ship that sank. One gentleman stated that only six members were still living. The men were in their mid eighties. I introduced myself to them, shook their hands and thanked them for their service to our country during WW II. These men would not consider themselves as ‘heroes’ but they were. They simply would say that ‘they were just doing their job’.

There is another book that I have been reading for years. It is called THE BIBLE. It is actually the Holy Scriptures that came from God Himself who is the Divine Author (2 Timothy 3:16, 17). Since the Garden of Eden there has been a different kind of warfare being fought in the heart of every accountable being who has lived on this earth. It is being waged in the hearts of men and women even today. Jesus Christ the Savior and His army are opposing Satan and his forces of darkness. Jesus Christ is the “Captain” of our salvation and He leads His army in this ongoing conflict (Hebrews 2:10). The apostle Paul describes this type of warfare in 2 Corinthians 10:3-6: “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ…” Again in Ephesus 6:10-16: “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Paul then describes the Christian soldier’s armor: “Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God…”

There is a ‘wall of faith’ mentioned in Hebrews chapter eleven that list the names of many of the heroes who died while fighting the forces of evil beginning with Abel and including Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, and many others. In the second section of the Book of God you find names like John who was called the Baptist, Matthew and the apostles including Paul and Peter. There was Stephen who died in the thick of the battle. There were saints who became martyrs for Christ and righteousness as mentioned in Revelation 6:9-11. Undoubtedly under the oppression of the Roman Empire literally thousands of believers suffered horrible deaths because they would not deny their Lord. Their names, along with scores of believers in Christ over the centuries, have their names recorded in the “Lamb’s Book of Life” (Revelation 21:27). This is the highest award, ‘The Medal of Honor’, which the Christian could ever receive.

There have been other faithful men and women in whom The Book of God has come alive, a vast number of those saints have gone on to be with the Lord (Philippians 1:23). There were the pioneer preachers who blazed the trail of Christianity across our nation and their devoted wives who stayed home, reared their children and kept the home fires burning. We have known elders who have committed their lives to the care of the members of a local congregation; deacons who have fulfilled their obligations by serving faithfully in their various roles as servants of the church and Bible teachers who have devoted hours of preparation in order to teach effectively adults and young people the Word of God There are saints who have endured hardships and discouragement over the years yet they have remained faithful to the Lord. And consider the missionaries and their families who often serve the Lord under adverse conditions and do not enjoy the same luxuries of life as other Christians while they live in foreign countries. There are Christian educators who sacrifice much in order to provide an education that includes the teaching of the Bible and opportunities for spiritual growth and Christian fellowship. There are members of the body of Christ who are “steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord… (I Corinthians 15:58). Christ truly lives in them (Philippians 1:21). They can say with Paul: “I have been crucified with Christ: it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). And when they come to the end of their journey here on this earth they will also declare: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing” (2 Timothy 4:6-8). Heroes, not really, just devoted soldiers of the cross, ‘doing their job’, and carrying the blood stained banner of their King, the Lord Jesus Christ.

No comments: