When Jesus returned to Capernaum, a Roman officer came and pleaded with him, “Lord, my young servant lies in bed, paralyzed and in terrible pain. “ Jesus said, “I will come and heal him.” But the officer said, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come into my home. Just say the word from where you are, and my servant will be healed. I know this because I am under the authority of my superior officers, and I have authority over my soldiers. I only need to say, ‘Go,’ and they go, or ‘Come,’ and they come. And if I say to my slaves, ‘Do this,’ they do it.” When Jesus heard this, he was amazed. Turning to those who were following him, he said, “I tell you the truth, I haven’t seen faith like this in all Israel! And I tell you this, that many Gentiles will come from all over the world—from east and west—and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob at the feast in the Kingdom of Heaven. But many Israelites—those for whom the Kingdom was prepared—will be thrown into outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Then Jesus said to the Roman officer, “Go back home. Because you believed, it has happened.” And the young servant was healed that same hour. Matthew 8:5-13
It was 7 am last Saturday morning and there was a beautiful orange ball of a sunrise happening before my eyes as I drove to a local church. I was excited to be a part of seeing off some World War II veterans to Washington DC and some of them were headed to Normandy France later on. I was so honored to be invited by a couple of my veteran friends to help see these men off. It was such a patriotic gesture to see some men that Tom Brocaw coined, “the greatest generation”. They spent so many years fighting to keep our way of life free. There were around 30 people there including the vets and their motorcycle escort. The vets themselves and the motorcycle escort took up half of the people there, the other half were those like us, giving well wishes and thanking these awesome people for their incredible sacrifice; also family members of the vets. I was ashamed to see that there were not that many of us there to see these men off, they should have been treated as the well, if not better, than celebrities on the red carpet are. The picture that I posted with this post shows a little girl, above that little girl is one veteran that is looking down at her. I did some research on the ship he was on during the war.
The USS Kitkun Bay was part of an escort carrier squadron called Taffy 3. It consisted of 6 escort carriers, 3 destroyers, 4 destroyer escorts, and 400 aircraft on the 6 escort carriers. An escort carrier is not as big as a normal aircraft carrier. The Kitkun Bay saw some major action during one of the largest naval battles in naval history called the battle of Leyte Gulf. Part of that battle involved Taffy 3 that had to face 4 Japanese battleships, 6 heavy cruisers, 2 light destroyers, and 11 destroyers. This was a major mismatched battle. In the end the Kitkun Bay survived and was never damaged, this awesome brave group of navy men beat back the Japanese and sunk 3 heavy cruisers, and damaged the other 3. They lost 2 escort carriers, 2 destroyers, and 1 destroyer escort. They had sustained heavy losses, but the victory was they beat back the larger Japanese fleet. That awesome gentleman pictured, looking down at my friends little girl was there and faced the Kamikaze attacks, the shells flying overhead from the cruisers and the battleships. All he got this Saturday was a small amount of people giving him thanks, just a few. There are 10 men pictured each with equally or more intense war stories. The only thing they get is a few people. Let’s talk about the faith of a soldier.
The above set of verses talk about how Jesus healed the Roman Centurion’s loyal servant, this soldier loved his servant so much he wanted him healed. He came to Jesus because he knew that would happen. He would have no part in Jesus coming to heal him; he knew Jesus could do it now. Jesus said that he never saw such faith in anyone in Israel. This speaks to that old saying that there are no atheists in foxholes. There is nothing more faithful than a soldier. They are faithful to their country, they are faithful to their brothers in arms, and if they are wise they are faithful to a great God. Great leadership encourages courage and that courage finds itself turning into faith. Faith that the objective will be achieved. Sometimes as in the above example of the force being overmatched, faith needs to have hope.
The next thing the Centurion had was hope. Hope is the intestinal fortitude of courage. His hope was that Jesus would be able to help his servant. The above battle off Samar Island shows hope was very much alive in that battle. They could have turned around and steamed the other way away from that Japanese fleet, but they had hope that they could make an impact on that fleet. The strategy worked and so they became victorious with their hope.
The last thing that the Centurion had was love, love for his servant. He had faith, he had hope, and now he had love. As I Corinthians 13 points out, this is the greatest of the three. The soldier or warrior has love for his country, and love for his fellow brother. Each of these 10 men suffered great loss in war; they lost a friend, a brother in arms. Their lives will always have an empty void because of what they experience in the war. They ranged from 97 as the oldest to 83 being the youngest. The greatest generation is dying off. How inconvenient for us to take an hour out of our precious time to say thanks to these awesome men. To me they are better than any celebrity we see today, they show us what teamwork is, they show us what leadership is, and they show us how to move on into life past the worst nightmares you can face.
I’m not the great patriot that I am painting here, this was the first time I ever did this. Not to say I never wanted to, just never had the opportunity presented to me. I’m very thankful for my church family that are veterans and invited me to join them in this very patriotic gesture. The point I am trying to make is that we need to have faith, hope, and most importantly love in our lives for our country and these awesome warriors that faced ungodly evil in their time, and spared us from living a life that is not free. I am very proud of being part of the few that were there. As this greatest generation dies off, we need to make that few, many. Remember if you can take just 15 minutes out of your life to be inconvenienced, you can be someone’s angel. Maybe the few, will become the many.
© [David Howard], [David’s Body Temple], 2011-2015.