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D-Day: Courage for the Battle

May 27, 2014

Next week will be the 70th anniversary of D-Day. On June 6, 1944, at 6.30 am, the Allied invasion of Normandy began. Having just been in England and Europe days ago, this historical moment especially stands to the fore in my mind and spirit.

d-dayAnd as always, it speaks to me so deeply of vitally important spiritual truths, such as the fact that we are in a war, in enemy-occupied territory in fact, and in desperate need of men and women who will enter the battle, put away fear, and stand strong with the Commander-in-Chief (King Jesus), and fight the good fight with courage and determination.

For those of you perhaps too young to recall the major details of this momentous day, let me pass on this brief account of some of the amazing facts and figures:

The assault was conducted in two phases: an airborne assault landing of 24,000 British, American, Canadian and Free French airborne troops shortly after midnight, and an amphibious landing of Allied infantry and armoured divisions on the coast of France commencing at 6.30 am. The operation was the largest amphibious invasion in world history, with over 160,000 troops landing on 6 June 1944 – and 195,700 Allied naval and merchant navy personnel in over 5,000 ships were involved.
The invasion required the transport of soldiers and material from the United Kingdom by troop-laden aircraft and ships, the assault landings, air support, naval interdiction of the English Channel and naval fire-support. The landings took place along a 50-mile (80 km) stretch of the Normandy coast divided into five sectors: Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword.
Approximately 10,000 allies were injured or killed – 6,603 American, of which 2,499 were fatal, 2,700 UK soldiers and 1,074 Canadians, of which 359 fatal. Between 4,000 and 9,000 German troops were killed – and it proved the pivotal moment of the war, in the allied forces’ favour.

This of course was just the beginning, and horrific and costly fighting would take place for an entire year, before Victory in Europe was finally declared on May 8, 1945. So much blood was to be spilled during this year – so many lives lost.

But the future of the free world was at stake, and there simply was no other option. Either Hitler was fought to the last breath, or the entire world would be enslaved by Nazi tyranny. There was no place for sitting on the fence here. One either fought, or one effectively caved in to the other side.

The spiritual war we are in is really no different. Our spiritual enemy Satan has sought to enslave the entire world, robbing us of our freedom, our dignity, and our humanity. 2000 years ago a spiritual D-Day was launched. At Calvary God through his Son Jesus declared that a major fight back was now under way.

What he began then he has entrusted to us, his foot soldiers, to carry on with. We are part of the mopping up operation. The victory Christ won at Calvary is not fully finalised, and we are part of the ground assault – his troops who are re-taking enemy territory.

It is a hard and difficult campaign, and there have been many casualties along the way. And the real V-E Day will not fully take place until Christ comes again. So in the meantime, we engage, we fight, we soldier on. We do not have the luxury of sitting on the fence.

We cannot tell our heavenly commander that we prefer to just sit this one out. He expects every single one of us who are called by his name to get involved, and to fight until we can fight no more. This is not the time for cowardice and timidity. This is the time to stand on the Lord’s side, and by his grace, to fight the good fight of faith.

We dare not do otherwise. All around us we see men and women and children held captive by the evil enemy. People are dying, and bleeding, and deceived, and enchained. The work is great, but the soldiers are few. Many in fact have actually deserted to the other side.

Those who are standing strong seem to be few and far between. But even if we are down to a handful of fighters, we must carry on – we must persist. Jesus went all the way for us, even to the cross, so how dare we do anything less for him. The servant is not above his master, and if he spared nothing for us, then the least we can do is return the favour.

And of course Scripture speaks so much about the need for courage, and how God will be with us in these battles. It is said that the words “Fear not” are found 365 times in the Bible – enough for every day of the year. If God is on our side, we can do valiantly.

It is not by our might, or our power, or our strength, but by his Spirit that we can succeed and triumph (Zechariah 4:6). Simply consider the words of Yahweh to Joshua as found in Joshua 1:5-9:

As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them. Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.

Courage is the need of the hour. In these exceedingly dark days, we need more than ever men and women of courage. And remember, our courageous stance will always inspire others to do the same. As Billy Graham once said, “Courage is contagious. When a brave man takes a stand, the spines of others are often stiffened.”

Let me close with the account of one American GI who like all the rest of those men 70 years ago, needed to muster some real courage to embark upon that incredible and supremely daunting campaign. The story goes like this:

An American veteran who was part of the D-Day invasion described meeting Churchill prior to the launch of that bloody offensive against the forces of Nazism. He said D-Day was the most frightening experience of his life. “In fact,” he said, “I don’t think some of us would have been able to do what we did if it weren’t for a visit we got just before we crossed the English Channel.” That visit was from Winston Churchill. He rode up in a jeep, got out, and mingled with the troops. “He shook hands with us and even hugged some of us,” the veteran recalled. “He spoke of his own wartime experience and identified with our emotions. Then, he stood up in his jeep and gave a five-minute speech. He spoke the whole time with tears in his eyes.” Here’s what Churchill said:

“Gentlemen – I know you are afraid. I remember being afraid when I was a soldier. I had the privilege of defending my country…through dark days when we didn’t know whether we would accomplish what we had been given to do. But this is your moment. We are counting on you to rise to the occasion and achieve everything you have set out to do. The fate of the free world rests on your shoulders. May this be your finest hour.”

The veteran said, “Needless to say, our group of frightened soldiers turned into a band of men who were ready to take on anybody.”

[1354 words]

13 Responses to D-Day: Courage for the Battle

  • Hi Bill
    What a wonderful rallying cry for those who are still holding on to Christ, despite what is transpiring in the world. Thank you for standing up for truth and righteousness. I believe there are many whose spines are stiffened as they read your powerful exhortations.
    God Bless
    Vic Trudeau

  • Thank you Bill.
    The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.
    Alice Walker

    I wish people would realise that they DO have power if everyone united.

  • PS I am not a fan of Alice Walker but just wanted to acknowledge what is a good quote.

  • Dear Bill,

    Your overseas trip has done you and us, your CultureWatch readers, a power of good.

    Your post of today, “D-Day: Courage for the Battle”, is exactly the inspiration we Christians need in these dark times.

    In the 1960s, when I was a small boy growing up in England, my Australian father and Canadian mother (the latter since deceased) took me on holiday to France, during which we visited the great D-Day Museum at Arromanches in Normandy. This was the location of “Gold” beach, one of the five main Allied landing beaches between the Cotentin Peninsula to the west and the Orme River to the east.

    (Just as a reminder, U.S. forces landed at Utah and Omaha beaches; the British at Gold beach; the Canadians at Juno; and the British, with a small contingent of Free French, at Sword).

    I’m sure most of your readers will have no difficulty recalling the traumatic first 20 minutes of Steven Spielberg’s 1998 film, Saving Private Ryan, re-enacting the U.S. forces landing at Omaha beach.

    We should never forget how much was at stake that day, nor how much we owe the brave fighting men of the Greatest Generation who were prepared to lay down their lives for the survival of the free world.

    On the eve of D-Day, King George VI delivered a famous speech, which was broadcast to the British and Dominions troops as they waited to embark for France.

    The king was not a confident orator like Winston Churchill. As your readers will recall from the film, The King’s Speech, George was a shy man, had a painful stammer and never expected, or wanted, to be king.

    Nevertheless he was a godly man. He lived up to his solemn coronation vows to defend the Christian faith and, painful though public speaking was to him, magnificently rose to the occasion of providing godly leadership on the eve of D-Day.

    Here is what he said in his broadcast:

    “I desire solemnly to call my people to prayer and dedication. We shall ask, not that God may do our will, but that we may be enabled to do the will of God; and we dare to believe that God has used our nation and Empire as an instrument to fulfill His high purpose. I hope that throughout the present crisis of the liberation of Europe there may be offered up earnest, continuous, and widespread prayer… At this historic moment surely not one of us is too busy, too young or too old to play a part in a nation-wide, perchance a world-wide, vigil of prayer as the great crusade sets forth.”

    Would that we had leaders like George VI and Churchill today.

    Thank you, Bill, for your inspiring posts.

    John Ballantyne,
    Melbourne.

  • Thanks for your article Bill, here, here! and we shall not forget those who fought for us bravely! nor our Lord and the battle He won at Calvary for us.

    Just a side note also, ‘fear not’ as a complete statement in the English KJV version occurs only 62 times.

  • To John B. and Bill,
    My spiritual spine has been strengthened by both of you this day. I never knew that about King George VI. His speech needs to be as widely quoted as Churchill’s. I plan to share it. Bill, your posts always (without exception) do a ‘power of good’ for me. Thank you both, in Christ’s name.

  • Thanks Bill, and your words too John. A little inspiration can go a long way. God Bless!

  • Thanks for good words. It is tragic that such great history is largely hidden from today’s youth.

  • The enemy has not changed only his appearance, but what a blessing that we already have the victory through our Savior Jesus Christ. May the memory of the sacrifice these mostly very young men made never be forgotten, I just wonder at the cost of a victory that so many seem to have relegated to the dim dark past never to be remembered. Today more than ever young ones need to hear of the past,that they may know the cost of the good life they enjoy.

  • Dear Bill,
    Thank you For the encouragement to us here in France. Daily threats form the government to shut churches down.
    This year already 82 evangelical churches shut down in one district (93) alone.
    We will continue to fight to keep our church open, even though the Mayor has asked us to shut down..
    Thank you all for standing with the church in France. We do not even call our selves a church, we know we are the church.. We have already moved 6 times. Now it’s enough this time they will have to BACK OUT!!

  • Shalom Bill, I hope you and your family have not been affected by the severe storm that recently hit South Australia. I’m sending my warmest regards to your wife as well.

    Your writings have always been so encouraging and inspiring that we readers of yours have found ourselves blessed and benefitted. Having said that, I won’t fall forgetful of keeping a watchful attitude towards your works, knowing that no man is infallible and we should never idolize anyone. After all, critical thinking is what genuine Christians need to be capable of. I’m sure you won’t take offence at my saying so.

    I have just had a much-belated (by two years) perusal of your ‘D-Day: Courage for the Battle’ which of course is another riveting piece since I am a military buff and had served as an part-time soldier (the equivalent to the U.S. Army Reserve) for 12 years during the colonial days of HongKong. I still remember having been greatly enamoured by the 1962 epic war film The Longest Day (featured a large cast of stars like John Wayne, Sean Connery and Paul Anka) in my teens. And I love its theme song (composed by Paul Anka). I have never seen any real action during my service yet people of courage and valiancy would always win my veneration, and I always see it an honour to have been a member of the Royal Hong Kong Regiment of which many of our seniors had laid down their lives in the Defence Battle of Hong Kong (8-25 December 1941, on the same morning as the Attack on Pearl Harbour).

    It’s a tragic coincidence that the slaying of the 86-year-old Catholic priest in last July also took place in Normandy (in the small town Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray) 72 years after the historical campaign. Have you visited the beaches where the Allied Forces made their invasion landing (codenamed Operation Neptune)?

    As a response to what you said in this article that God’s army is in desperate need of men and women who will enter the battle and fight the good fight of faith with determination and courage, let me tell you, count me in as an enlisted man. I am delighted to be one of your comrades. And with a little bit of militancy and perseverance which might have been passed down to my genes from my former army training, I think I’m qualified to endure hardship with you as good soldiers of Christ (2 Timothy 2:3,4).

    Two questions for you. Have you also been a serviceman before? How can I share with you something that I wrote and send you a photo of me?

    Press on, fight hard for Him and His kingdom in these dark times. You have got my full ‘fire support’ from across the ditch.

    Blessings,

    Paul Au

  • AMEN! GOD BLESS AND THANKS FOR SHARING!

  • Just reading your posts regarding senior Christians. Below is an excerpt from “A Very Present Help – A tribute to the faithfulness of God”; by Lieutenant-General Sir William Dobbie. Dobbie was a highly decorated officer in the British army, much respected for his personal courage leading his men. He was a Christian, a Plymouth Brethren and his illustrious career ended with honourable retirement in 1939. On the outbreak of War he offered his services to the government, and was appointed Governor of the island of Malta. He dubbed the defence of this strategic island “The Miracle of Malta” and
    ‘… the George Cross was awarded to the island of Malta by King George VI in a letter to the island’s Governor, Lieutenant-General Sir William Dobbie, so as to “bear witness to the heroism and devotion of its people” during the great siege they underwent in the early part of World War II. Italy and Germany besieged Malta, then a British colony, from 1940 to 1942. The George Cross was instituted by King George VI, on 24 September 1940, replacing the Empire Gallantry Medal. It is the civilian equivalent to the Victoria Cross.’ (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Award_of_the_George_Cross_to_Malta)

    He wrote regarding the events of the Great war … in the four years from August, 1914, to July, 1918, British arms had from time to time been within an ace of disaster, and yet disaster had not quite overwhelmed us. It is equally true that at other times in the same period we had been within an ace of sweeping success, and yet complete success had not been achieved. It seemed as though God were withholding success from us, during this period, although he kept us from disaster. So far as the Western land front was concerned, it is true to say that, generally speaking, the weather had been unfavourable to our operations, while it favoured those of the enemy. These things gave many food for thought. They noticed that the phenomena coincided in time with a complete absence of national prayer to God. During the period in question, although many individuals and organizations urged the people to seek God in prayer, yet there was no official move in that direction. The GOVERNMENT (my caps) issued no call for prayer.

    It was not until about the 1st of July 1918, that a decision was taken by the Government to issue such a call. The date chosen was the 4th August – the fourth anniversary of the beginning of the war. Immediately that decision was taken, a remarkable change came over the situation. On the 18th July, Marshal Foch gained a signal victory over the Germans between the Aisne and the Marne, and caused them to effect a hasty and costly withdrawal. On the 8th August, four days after the day appointed to seek God’s help, began the Battle of Amiens – the first of a series of brilliant victories in the British sector, which in a hundred days brought about the complete downfall of the German army, and brought to an end the power of the German nation to continue the war. In these hundred days God’s help was manifest in many ways. The weather which hitherto had mostly been unfavourable to us, now was just what we needed.

    One instance out of many may be of interest. It was decided that our first attack should take place in front of Amiens. It was obviously most necessary to keep the enemy in ignorance of this decision, and elaborate precautions were taken to make him think that the attack would be launched elsewhere. To launch an offensive of the scale intended involved the collection of a vast force of all arms. The component parts of this force were mostly moved by night, and hidden, so far as was possible, by day. But the day came when all the available cover around and behind Amiens was full to saturation point. Many units had to be disposed in the open, and, eventually, for the two days before the opening of the assault, the number of such units was so great that concealment was impossible, and any hostile aircraft coming over would be bound to see them. If that had happened, there was only on inference which the Germans could have drawn, and surprise would have been impossible. But, during those two critical days, the weather was such that flying was almost impossible. In any event, no German aircraft come over; the surprise was complete, and our attack overwhelmingly successful.

    Again I realize that difficult questions arise when we consider the part the weather plays in God’s plans. While there is no doubt that it helped us then, it is equally true that it was unfavourable to us in June and July 1944, when we invaded Normandy. The weather, of course, affects other things besides military operations. It is a question about which different opinions may be held, and in any case it cannot be discussed here. But the instant I have quoted, in August 1918, couple as it was with the first official day of National Prayer, and the unexpectedly complete successes which followed, caused many persons to think seriously. Was it just a coincidence, or was there a real connection between these things? Was it a clear example of cause and effect when we gained striking success after asking God for His help? Many of those in high places thought that this was so. The writer thinks so too.

    The conditions for effective national prayer are much the same as those which apply in the case of individuals, and the more the conditions are fulfilled the more effective will the prayer be. Humbleness, acknowledgment of and turning from sin, trust in God rather than in man, and willingness to walk in the path of obedience to Him, are all necessary. Happy is the nation which seeks God in this way. As David said: “Happy is that people that is in such a case, yea happy is that people whose God is the Lord.”

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