by PASTOR RON AULBACH
BridgeWay Community Church
The book “Unbroken” by Laura Hilenbrand, captures perfectly what it means to live a long, prosperous life.
Louis Zamperini was a rebellious youth who found his gift in running. He was fast! Dashing records in the mile in high school, college at USC, and became the U.S. hopeful for Olympic gold. Until WWII broke out, and Louis would put his running career on hold to serve our country as a bomber in the Air Force. A perilous military assignment, to say the least, and after surviving several close calls, his B-24 bomber was shot down over the Pacific. Most of his crew were killed at impact, but Louis and two other servicemen survived.
On a small raft adrift for over 2,000 miles with no food or water. Minimal rain and the occasional raw fish barely kept the men alive. The raft was a magnet for sharks, who constantly circled it, even lunging up onto its sides in attack.
After 47 days, death was imminent, so Louis prayed in desperation: “God if you save me, I will dedicate the rest of my life to serving you.” The immediate answer seemed cruel as he was captured by the Japanese and placed in a prison camp. His wiry athletic frame wasted away, dropping from 150 to just over 70 pounds. One prison guard, nicknamed “The Bird,” stalked him and beat him every day. For two-and-a-half years, Louis was verbally assaulted, starved and beaten, but he was never broken. Then, the war ended.
Post-War life wasn’t any easier for Louis. He had deep-seeded resentment toward the Japanese, became a raging alcoholic, struggled with his marriage, and had no money. Then, in 1949 he heard a young preacher named Billy Graham. The message was simply: “For God so loved the world that he gave his son Jesus.” Then Louis remembered that prayer on the raft. He gave his life to the Lord, and immediately felt the peace that had eluded him. He found instant relief from the addictions and went on a mission to forgive his enemies.
I think it would be more accurate to label the book “Broken,” because that’s what Louis really was. And that’s exactly the kind of life God delights in is “a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart,” (Psalm 51:17).
This week, as you think about your life, your prison camp, your raft, your “unbroken” messed-up life, think also about the love of God that reaches out, and offer God your life. He is more than ready for you!