I do enjoy watching a good movie. It’s a real delight to view a good, thought-provoking movie in a nice cinema. And one of those I have seen is the legendary war movie Saving Private Ryan. You probably know it as well. Not a new movie by any means, but one that has stayed with me. It has a very moving storyline—based on the 1944 true story of a family named Ryan. There were 4 sons in the Ryan family. The father is dead and all 4 boys go off to fight in World War II, leaving their mother behind. Tragically, 3 of the 4 men were killed in action. The War Department enlists the help of Captain John Miller (played by Tom Hanks) to find the surviving son and bring him home, so his mother would have at least one son left to carry on the family name.
The Army goes in search of Private Ryan, travelling from one unit to the next, fighting battles against the Germans. When they eventually find Ryan, he refuses to leave his unit until reinforcements arrive. But they are engaged in a fierce battle with many casualties. It was the D-day invasion. Captain Miller is seriously wounded and dies but whispers into Ryan’s young ears, “Earn it, earn it!”. As an old man, Ryan visits the French cemetery to the graveside of the captain who probably saved his life. He falls to his knees weeping and in total anguish sobs to his wife, “Tell me I’ve lived a good life…tell me I’m a good man”. He had lived with the burden of knowing others had died for his rescue—he could not forget the sacrifice made on his behalf.
What a powerful question—”Have I lived a good life?” How important for your family to know at your funeral that you were a good and honest person. And that means sometimes you have to stand firm. Stand up for your beliefs and principles. Be dependable, like the 104-year-old man who was being interviewed by the media, “How did you do it? How have you managed to live so long?” The old man thought for a moment: “Well, I ate the right food, got plenty of sleep, didn’t fool around, never indulged in alcohol, smokes, or chewin’ tobacco.” The reporter replied, “I had an uncle like that but he died at 55. How do you explain that?” “Sure”, said the old man, “he just didn’t keep it up long enough”.
We too, sometimes, give up. If you’re a Christian, you try to live by the golden rule: loving God and your fellow man. But it’s not always easy to keep going that way if you’re ridiculed for your faith. Tough times come and we give up our Christian faith. We’re not prepared to be consistent all the time. I think many people have a profound religious experience, but give up along the way.
Bill Hybels once wrote this: “Most non-Christians who learn of someone who suddenly professes to be a Christian will view the announcement with the same level of cynicism as they would if someone else told them they were going on a diet or would stop drinking”.
Do you know someone who made a decision to follow Jesus Christ and then gave up? I think it happens quite often. It’s easy to get discouraged and down when you’re laughed at for your faith or called ‘weak’. Peer pressure is a big thing now, especially for young people. But perseverance is a matter of courage. The US military group kept going in spite of terrible injuries to save paratrooper Private James Ryan. (Football coach) Hal Sherbeck says in one of his articles, “Press on. Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence.”.
Many years ago now, Jimmy Durante was asked to be a part of a show for some WW II veterans. He was very busy, but agreed to do a short monologue and then he’d have to leave. He went on stage, but the applause was so great he did another monologue and then another —he gave a long performance. Finally, he bowed to the grateful audience and walked off stage. Someone stopped him and asked why he stayed for so long. He pointed to 2 ex-servicemen in the front row, seated next to each other. They had each lost an arm in the war. One had lost his right arm, and the other his left. But together they were able to clap, and that’s what they did. Jimmy Durante was greatly moved at their loud and cheerful response.
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Do you have a united purpose in life? Do you want others to regard you as a good person? God through his Son Jesus Christ can give your life dignity and purpose.