“The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life.”
~ 1 Timothy 1:15-16
This past week Tanya and I went Christmas shopping and then out for a date movie – we saw Hacksaw Ridge (romantic…I know). For those unfamiliar with Hacksaw Ridge, it is the Maeda Escarpment that the Japanese held in World War II. It was called Hacksaw Ridge because the amount of cover fire the Japanese laid down was so thick it literally cut soldiers in half. It was a desperate situation and many lives were lost in this battle for Okinawa. In the midst of this horror is the real life story of army medic Desmond Doss who, in one 12 hour stint, is credited for rescuing over 75 men by himself. Facing impossible odds he averaged saving one man every ten minutes by dragging them from an enemy infested battlefield, over to the 350-foot cliff and lowering them down via a rope sling. One at a time. All night long. By himself. As one who didn’t believe in killing, Army medic Desmond Doss never carried a weapon and was seriously wounded at Hacksaw Ridge. After this battle he was left 90% disabled and was unable to work a full-time job after the war. He was known to be a man of dedicated prayer and Bible reading refusing to compromise on taking Saturday as the sabbath (he was a Seventh Day Adventist). What one man gave up in order to save the lives of others is inspiring. Even more so, the other soldiers, including Doss himself, believe what Doss did on Hacksaw Ridge was nothing short of a miracle:
“When you have explosions and bursts so close you can practically feel it, and not get wounded up there when I should have been killed a number of times. I know who I owe my life to as well as my men. That’s why I like to tell this story to the glory of God, because I know from the human standpoint, I should not be here.” (Desmond Doss in Medal of Honor: Oral Histories)
As incredible as this story is, Christmas is even more so! Christmas speaks of Jesus coming down into a world contaminated by sin which was cutting down people one at a time with no hope of salvation. The escarpment of sin was just too deadly to be taken and beaten – no one could climb it and conquer it. And yet, God had a plan. Instead of sending a fully grown equipped warrior, the Father sent the Son as a baby without weapons but full of love. Jesus would grow up in our world tempted as we are, facing opposition as we do, and being called to bring glory to God regardless of his circumstances just as we are. Without a weapon and all by himself, Jesus would go on to be wounded unto death, giving his life not for 75 men in one night but for all humanity for all time, for all who would believe in him and call on his name. He wouldn’t remain dead and be disabled but would rise in glory victorious over sin and death!
In September my niece Heidi and her husband Derek had little baby Ellie (yes, that makes me a great uncle). Ellie is so beautiful…it’s hard to imagine what she will do in life and what she will experience. So much potential wrapped up in a soft pink little bundle. Even as we see our children grow up can we really know all that they will be able to do and accomplish throughout their lives? At Christmas time we have the incredible ability to not only see baby Jesus sent from the Father full of potential, but the savior “who takes away the sins of the world.” We know that the very baby the angels sang about and shepherds came and worshipped grew up and became the New Adam who redeems the effects of sin and offers hope to all who are being cut down by world we live in. He is the one who binds our wounds, carries us to safety and defeats the enemy for us when we couldn’t imagine any possible victorious outcome. One day he will return as a warrior to completely decimate sin and the Devil and bring in his Kingdom in all its glorious fullness. But until that time, let us look with wonder and awe upon the cradle in which the Prince of Peace was held. Let us behold our King who in love gave up his throne in heaven to come to earth and take our sin upon himself so the righteous judgment of God could be met and the loving heart of God could be seen. May we gaze upon the Light of the World and let him lift our darkness, inspire us to hope, and fill us with love beyond ourselves so that we too may offer our lives up in service to God for his glory. Merry Christmas, CAC Family!
You are loved!
“Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”
~ Luke 2:10-11