Friday, 23 July 2010

Making A Way Where There Is No Way

During World War Two, if there were to be any hope of freeing Europe from Nazi control, the Allies needed to find a way of accessing the European mainland.

The problem was that the Nazis had turned Western Europe into an impenetrable fortress, and would stop at nothing to keep it that way.  They would fight to the death to keep its ports and would destroy them completely rather than see them fall into Allied control. What were the Allies to do?

What the Allies did was nothing short of ingenious: they made a way where there was no way:

The making of that way was no less than an all consuming effort on the part of everyone involved - and everyone was involved.

Not all of the roles were glorious. Not everyone got to be part of the headlining offensives that caught the nation's eye. Some of those inglorious roles are obvious - like the people who built the harbour parts, ready to be towed across the Channel.

Others are not so obvious, like the soldiers who were, to all intents and purposes, sent on a suicide mission when, after being parachuted in behind enemy lines, they had to fight the Nazis and do nothing more than distract them whilst the Allied engineers sneaked onto the mainland and take all measurements needed in order to construct this incredible harbour.

Moreover, much of the harbour was lost in the towing process. Of the 13kms of floating roadways that left the UK, only 7kms worth reached Arromanches due to a freak winter-like storm during the summer of 1944.

Nevertheless, the Allies persevered; driven by moral imperatives not financial returns and the establishment of this harbour was pivotal to the eventual victory of the Allies and the liberation of Europe.

There is much symmetry here for the Church:

The Church of Jesus Christ, after the pattern laid down by her saviour, is in the all-consuming "business" of making a way where there is no way.  A task that requires nothing short of total self-sacrificial effort on the part of everyone involved - and every Christian is called to be involved.

Not all of the roles are glorious (in this life). Not everyone gets to be part of the headlining missionary endeavours that catch the (Christian) media eye. Some of those inglorious roles are obvious - like those who do the behind the scenes management for routine meetings and special events.

Others are not so obvious, like those who choose to become nobodies - even misfits - in the eyes of the world and who through their love and sacrifice are happy to see others to reap the rewards of their efforts in this world, whilst they await the joy of their Heavenly Father in the next.

This is not a business where x amount of effort returns x amount of benefit in this life. There will be times when people appear to pay the ultimate price for what seems like little or no gain; when it seems like everything is going crackers and nothing makes any sense anymore.

Nevertheless, victory is certain and the Church, filled with the Spirit of her Saviour, will persevere, driven and powered by divine love, not worldly (vain)glory. She will continue, like her saviour, whatever the cost, whether through simple friendship or martyrdom, to make a way where there is no way and bring freedom to those bound in darkness, welcoming them into the same divine love that she has come to know.

Pondering this, I realise that whilst I've understood something of what it means to give; I've a long way to go before I understand what it means truly to sacrifice.

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