Sunday, July 7, 2013

A Lesson from Eddie Rickenbacker

"strong at sea"
Ezekiel 26:17

So I'm going to share one of my latest reads with you.  I picked it up for free at the library.  Yeah, I know, all books are free at the library.... But this one's a keeper.  The library has a small bookstore out front, and they always have a couple of shelves with free books on there.  There's rarely anything I want, but once in awhile I find something.

photo credit:

The United States Air Force Memorial

This "something" is called Seven Came Through and it was written by Eddie Rickenbacker.  He was an American fighter pilot in World War I ~ America's most successful ace in the war.  So I'm sure he was the subject of plenty of books and movies.  But this one was by him, and it was the account of the 24 days he and seven other men spent in lifeboats, after a military plane on which they were traveling, was forced to ditch in the Pacific.  (One of those men, Alexander Kaczmarczyk, died of wounds sustained in the crash.  Hence the title.)

It was an astounding read. Their food supply ran out after only a few days, and they survived on a seagull (the hapless bird landed on Rickenbacker's head, and he managed to catch it before it flew away) and fish they caught using the bird's innards as bait.  They were without water for several days, but when it rained, they managed to save enough to keep them alive until they were rescued.

But what I want to share with you is what Rickenbacker said towards the end of the book, about being rescued:  "Planting my feet upon an American deck was the next best thing to being home.  The crew gave us a cheer.  It bucked us up no end, but we hardly deserved it.  There's no great honor attached to saving your own skin."

Now, I've shared before my thoughts on how heroes rarely think they are deserving of the title, but what struck me in particular about Rickenbacker's words was that last line:  "There's no great honor attached to saving your own skin." 

I just gotta say, I just don't think that's true.  First of all, Rickenbacker "saving his own skin" also included encouraging, leading and saving the skin of the men with him.

But more than that, Rickenbacker living through the experience required a little luck (like a seagull landing on his head) and some wisdom (like not drinking seawater, no matter how thirsty they got) but also a great deal of courage.

It's an important lesson:  just hang on.  Deal with every moment the best you can, and wait for God to do what He will do.  Persevere in what you are doing, and endure when there's nothing you can do.  You never know who you'll be encouraging along the way.  

~ "You have need of endurance, 
so that after you have done the will of God, 
you may receive the promise" ~
Hebrews 10:36

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