Character, someone said, is what you do when no one is looking. Edgar Harrell and the survivors of the U.S.S. Indianapolis exhibited selflessness and courage as they faced the long, dark nights and incredible days in the pacific ocean. Out of the Depths: An Unforgettable WWII Story of Survival, Courage, and the Sinking of the USS Indianapolis is an amazing story that left me near tears when I closed the last page.
The forward is written by Lt. Col. Oliver North. His definition of heroism is:
“…a person who has wittingly put himself in grave physical jeopardy for the benefit of another. Heroes are people who overcome evil by doing good at great personal risk. Through self-sacrifice, fortitude, and action, whether they succeed or fail, heroes provide a moral and ethical framework–and inspiration–for the rest of us.” What North explained in this chapter was how our re-definition of heroism is not the true definition. It is not, “the athlete who just set a new sports record,” “Nor the ‘daring’ movie star or even the adventurer out to be the first solo climber to scale Mount Everest. They may be brave–but they don’t meet the definition of hero, for whatever they achieve benefits only themselves.” (emphasis mine).
The survivors of the U.S.S. Indianapolis were afloat at seat with just debris or flotation devices for five days. Nine hundred, oil-soaked survivors of a torpedo attack during World War II were in the shark-infested waters, and at the end of five days, only 317 were still alive. Hypothermia, shark attacks, dehydration, and many other maladies thinned out their number. Edgar recounts those five terrifying days in morbid detail, but what rose above the terror was Edgar’s faith in a God greater than death. He kept his comrades, to the best of his ability, close, keeping them encouraged. Some tried to commit suicide, but Edgar tried to keep them from giving up. He writes of amazing peace that he found from the moment he went into the water. This is what North described as heroism.
Edgar and his men could have done a hundred things more self-serving, and yet through the five days, they tried to keep each other alive. When they were rescued and had to sit in a rescue plane while the rescue plane waited for help, many of the men, including Edgar, remained honest about their water rations so that their fellow soldiers might get their rations before the water supply ran out. In this culture, I’m not sure people would do that anymore. It seems like our everyday decisions are me-focused, for our comfort only, even if it means we lie about it. In that instance, I believe we justify a small lie to satisfy an intense desire for something or to do something. In the case of Edgar and the surviving men, severe dehydration and illness did not stop them from making sure other soldiers got first serving.
Edgar demonstrated how courage is a mindset. It’s something you put on every morning, like a coat or a shirt. In this case, Edgar read scripture. That scripture kept him strong during those horrific five days. The mindset of courage before disaster strikes is shown in Edgar’s behavior in the sea. It helped him make the right decisions under pressure. Every good moral compass needs a scriptural foundation in which to point north from. I gave this book five stars because it almost made me cry.
Disclosure of material connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase this item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I might use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255, “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” Book given by publisher to review.
According to the Dake Annotated Reference Bible-KJV-Large Print, there are 176 prayers in the Old Testament and 46 prayers in the New Testament. I first heard about this reference (found here) during a prayer meeting. For the next several Sundays I will post a prayer in regards to each section of scripture mentioned until I have gone through all 222 prayers.
Do we even realize the pain Jesus went through in order that we may live?
No more have I realized my short-sightedness and recognized my apathy to the supernatural than when I read a blog on someone witnessing a death of a possibly unsaved person. In comparison with someone who dies knowing the truth to someone dying seeing the unseen hell of a lasting void without God, it’s disturbing. It’s not the first time that I have heard this. The blog also jerks me awake.
I am ashamed at my sense of apathy. I take away the power of Jesus by thinking my own strength can change things when Jesus can do things without us. I even take away the power of the Word by my actions. Why do I do that?
The Gospel is quite powerful on its own without any garnishment. No more was this shown than in Billy Graham’s, My Hope America. No wonder atheists fight to bring down crosses and abolish the Book. Little do they know of the power behind them from another source–a darker source–one with a fate already doomed who wants to bring down as many souls as possible. Our silence causes us to choose sides. So even if we claim agnostic, we are still an unbeliever. By our silence, we choose. Thankfully, God goes after His children, and even more so, I thank God for His mercy and grace. He knows I try, and He knows how much I fall short.
Only through Jesus, my mind whispers achingly. Only through Jesus…I can do all things through Him. But, Oh Lord, forgive me my apathy. Forgive me when I do not hold enough faith in Your power.
Easter is coming. The world feels like a great blanket is being pulled over it, dousing the light, as the world teaches us good is evil, and evil is good. The enlightened thinking of scholars who don’t know Christ continue to influence those who can’t look beyond the degrees or their own unhealed wounds. The minority groups yell the loudest, push the hardest, and where are the Christians?
Lord, forgive us for putting down each other when we can’t live up to each other’s expectations. Forgive us for infighting when a bigger fight exists outside the walls of our church. Forgive us for putting down Your church. My heart hurts for those hurting and for those without a voice. We need to get our hands dirty this Easter, vow to be better, close our mouths, withhold the hurtful words, do the work ourselves and stop expecting someone else to take on our burdens, and strive to speak truth with love to each other, even if it hurts a little. Forgive us for our apathy, Lord, when we take away the power of your Word and Your presence. Help us to understand. In Jesus Name, Amen
Meanwhile, I urge you to read this blog, it’s important…
So he comes to us, this man we’ll call Dave, and the drugs aren’t working anymore. Dave’s heart continues growing weaker and weaker and the doctor, he tells him straight, “Time. Only time. Maybe minutes. Maybe hours. Maybe days. What do you want to do?” Read More…
Oh, my soul, knock hard and ask large things of your generous Lord. Do not be bashful when Jesus invites. No unbelief should hinder when Jesus promises. No cold heart should restrain when such blessings are to be obtained. – Charles Spurgeon
Last night I confronted my half-empty faith in my weekly Bible Study. If a terrorist can become a Christian, why then do I have so little faith that, if God wills, He can remove this problem? He has been there all my life, drying my tears and wrapping my heart in His love. So why my unbelief?
Although, its not really an unbelief in Jesus. Hurt can cloud the heart and make seeing clearly difficult. Its Peter stepping out of the boat to walk on water, but soon sinking because he took his eyes off of Jesus. It helps to recall what God has done in my life.
God can still part the seas. He paints rainbows in the sky–a reminder that He keeps His promises. Oh, dear Lord, wash my eyes, use your mud to heal me of my blindness! Heal my wounded heart and right my attitude! In Jesus Name, Amen.
Have you suffered unbelief in a situation? Share that in the comments so we can pray for you.
James 2:14-17 says, ” What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”
Grieving is a process. It’s a very lengthy process in which one has their ups and downs. The hurt or loss is a wound and wounds bleed.
As I went through my process, I wanted to shout to the world to pay attention. I wanted them to see my pain and take it from me. Most didn’t want to hear it, but offered to pray. Some listened. As a Christian, I didn’t have it altogether. I didn’t want to go to church wearing a plastic smile and pretend everything was okay. The questions were the worst. People, even those with the best of intentions, asked questions. Some gave me sound advice. Others made assumptions based on the side they heard. Everyone it seemed had an answer.
Sheila Walsh said how the poison needs to be bled from the wound. Your grief needs an outlet. Not everyone is willing to help carry your tears. Most will offer prayers, but keep a distance as if your grief is catching somehow. The prayers are powerful, helpful even, but the person grieving needs to know what you went through when you grieved. They don’t need platitudes. They don’t need cliches. They don’t need your advice.
They need your honesty, your shoulder, and your silence.
I survived as God grew my faith through my pain. Pain causes you to sink into scripture, but not everyone will hold tightly to their faith. Sometimes the wrong reaction or the anger can be the catalyst to make the grieving break away from their church family. As a church family, we, in our dysfunction, need to cover our grieving in hugs and support. We need to be willing to hear their shouts, be there with our honesty, and sometimes eat a pint of Ben and Jerry’s with them.
Are you grieving? How can I pray for you?
In reading, The Conviction to Lead by Albert Mohler, a quote stood out to me: passion is Technicolor, not earth tones. Mohler went on to say, “Kierkegaard contrasts passion with mere ‘flashes of enthusiasm.’ Passion is not a temporary state of mind. It is the constant source of energy for the leader, and the greatest cause of attraction for followers. Finally, Kierkegaard reminds us that passion cannot be artificially generated or transmitted. If authentic, it naturally shines through as convictions come to life, as a great mission undertaken, and as people share the same great passion and join together as one.” As I read this, I recalled my words over the past year. Where’s my passion? Where’s my faith?
For instance, when someone asked me how many copies to make for something I gave a low number. I expected few to actually need the information. My verbiage communicated my low confidence and my floundering passion. I am passionate wherever writing is concerned in my own projects, but I have apologetically lacked it in many other areas. I’ve been searching out my place in the world—to belong, to matter, to be a part of something—and my attitude reflects it when more often than not I am left bereft of what I seek. I feel I am following God’s will in what I do, but in some areas I really need to work on a better attitude and a stronger faith. Because what I seek sometimes is self-fulfillment.
Tony asked me why I continue to write and submit when I haven’t gotten a publishing contract for my novel. I’m not seeking self-fulfillment, but serving my calling. In many ways, writing is fulfilling even if my pocketbook comes up empty. God has blessed me in my writing in more ways than I deserve and lately He has been opening up many doors. Some have told me how my writing builds them up and I am glad to be used in this way, to spend my time wisely, and grow. But in other areas I do lack faith.
So when Mohler said, “passion requires Technicolor not earth tones,” it left me disquieted. I walked back from Starbucks staring ahead and re-thinking my position. I need to use my words to lift up and build up even when things appear discouraging, people are difficult, or if when I hold out my hands they come up empty. My attitude can’t be responsible for bringing someone else down. When someone asks for a blown out number of copies, I should suggest double that and pray it is so instead of thinking the worst and living faithlessly. When praying for rain, I should bring an umbrella, as someone once told me.
*The Conviction to Lead is one of the books I am reviewing. Date TBD.