About a year ago I watched a movie based on the real-life story of Desmond Doss, a conscientious objector, who wanted to serve his country.
But Desmond was in a dilemma! He had vowed to God that he would never take up a weapon.
As you might imagine, not only was his patriotism questioned. Desmond suffered severe ridicule, was beaten and hurt by his fellow soldiers and court-martialed for not following orders.
Only after his father, a First World War veteran intervened was his court-martial dismissed, because it was discovered Desmond had a constitutional right to his position and still serve his country.
As they went off to war in the Pacific Theater, his company took extreme losses in the first few hours attempting to take a ridge.
During the battle, as his fellow warriors retreated, Desmond ran from foxhole to foxhole, rescuing his wounded comrades.
Eventually he was the only one on the ridge, but he felt he couldn’t leave. One after another, he brought hurt soldiers to the precipice and lowered them down the ridge. Everybody else below was gone, except for two watchmen. He kept going back, asking God to give him strength to get one more soldier. At one point he even helped a wounded enemy Japanese soldier. In the end, he was wounded himself, but by this time everybody else would have given his life for him for the courage he had shown and for the lives he had saved.
He later received commendations for single-handedly rescuing 75 men, some of whom had been the ones that treated him cruelly during his training.
What can make a man act this way?
Desmond was a devoted follower of Jesus Christ. He was committed to keep His commandment to love others the way Jesus loved him. (John 15:12)
Jesus has demonstrated his love by laying down his live for everyone. He said: “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:13) That is the kind of love Desmond Doss showed because he had experienced this kind of love himself.
The movie is hard to watch. It contains tough violence. However, at its core it is an excellent story of bravery, commitment and sacrificial love–a love that cannot be killed with guns and bombs! It is but a glimpse of the love Creator Sets Free, Jesus, our rescuer showed for us. He gave his life so we could live!
This post was first published at “Walking The Good Road” as “Unexpected Strength at Hacksaw Ridge”
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