One More

I admit that I like to watch non-fiction war movies. I’m particularly interested in the historical perspective as well as learning about the brave servicemen who served our country and gave their life, or at least risked their life, for our freedom. Recently, Cheri and I had the opportunity to watch the movie Hacksaw Ridge. The movie highlighted a WWII American Army Medic, Desmond Doss, who served during the Battle of Okinawa. Doss was sent to Okinawa where American troops are left with no other option than to climb a cliff face, nicknamed "Hacksaw Ridge," to engage Japanese forces who gained a tactical advantage by securing the ridge. The fighting is fierce and casualties are heavy on both sides but Doss is able to rescue several injured soldiers. On the second day that Doss’ squad was on the ridge, the enemy launched a counter-attack and the Americans were forced to retreat down the steep cliff. Nevertheless, several of the men in Doss' squad are injured and left helpless on the battlefield. As Doss hears the cries of men in his squad who are severely injured and dying, instead of retreating with the rest of his squad, he spends the entire day and night carrying wounded soldiers to the cliff's edge and singlehandedly lowering them down to safety. As he grows desperately weak and tired with hands stripped bare and bleeding from rope burns, Doss continually prays asking God to help him save “one more.”
 
The story of the Medal of Honor winner Desmond Doss is inspiring and strengthening. It is a powerful story of faith and courage. For me, his story not only makes me want to be a better citizen but to do more to make a difference. In fact, the prayer of Doss continues to ring in my mind. Amazingly he just kept praying for “one more” and God kept answering his prayer.  The reason it keeps ringing isn’t so much about the physical well-being of people but their spiritual welfare. In fact, Pastor Rick Warren tells a story about his father which captures the essence of my heart cry.
 
“My father was a minister for over fifty years, serving mostly in small, rural churches. He was a simple preacher, but he was a man with a mission. In 1999, my father died of cancer . . . In the final week of his life the disease kept him awake in a semi-conscious state nearly twenty-four hours a day . . . One night near the end, while my wife, my niece, and I were by his bedside, Dad suddenly became very active and tried to get out of bed. Of course, he was too weak, and my wife insisted he lay back down. But he persisted in trying to get out of bed, so my wife finally asked, “Jimmy, what are you trying to do?” He replied, "Got to save one more for Jesus! Got to save one more for Jesus! Got to save one more for Jesus!” ~Zondervan Men’s Devotional Bible, 2012
 
As I look around our community, church and even my family, I see people devastated by the circumstances of life and sinful rebellion. For many, in a spiritual sense, their life is like a Hacksaw Ridge. Just like the men that lay dying on Hacksaw Ridge, those who are without Christ, lay spiritually dead. After all, a person that hasn’t accepted Christ as Savior and Lord, even though they are physically alive, are spiritually dead. In fact, the bible says “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins . . .”  But do we see the desperation of people without a saving relationship with Jesus Christ like Desmond Doss saw the critical physical condition of his wounded squad mates? Moreover, do we pray for “one more” like Desmond Doss or cry out “got to save one more for Jesus” like Jimmy Warren? Most of us are like Doss’ squad who retreated to safety. Others of us, likely very few, are like a spiritual version of Desmond Doss who are willing to face danger and even sacrifice their life to save others. What about you?  What are you willing to risk so others will see and hear the gospel of Jesus Christ? Did you know Jesus demands his followers be willing to die?  Luke records the words of Jesus in his gospel, LK 9:23 And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” That’s right.  Jesus actually said, “take up his cross daily.”
 
Inspired by the movie, “Hacksaw Ridge,” and the faith and heroic acts of Desmond Doss, I’m committed to pray regularly asking God for “one more.” I’m also praying for the average American Christian and state of most American churches. Why? As reported by Jon Wilke, “A study conducted by LifeWay Research found 80 percent of those who attend church one or more times a month, believe they have a personal responsibility to share their faith, but 61 percent have not told another person about how to become a Christian in the previous six months.” Oh God, how is it possible that the large majority of Christians are content knowing that they are safe in the arms of Jesus but retreat instead of giving their life to rescue as many as they can by sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ? Oh God, I pray, plant it in our hearts a desire to share the gospel with “one more.”
 
A Work in Progress,
 
Pastor Gene

Gene StocktonComment