“The eyes of the world are upon you… I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty, and skill in battle” ~Dwight Eisenhower to the US troops before they stormed the beaches of Normandy
I recently had the great privilege of standing on the beaches of Normandy in France. Seventy years ago, hundreds and hundreds of soldiers gave their lives on those beaches. That battle was a portal to freedom, a massive turning point in World War II.
I was in awe as I walked on those beaches, looked over on the cliffs of Pointe Du Hoc, and stood in deep craters in the earth that were made by exploding bombs and grenades. This one battle, that happened fifty-three years before I was even born, was so influential that it changed the way I would be able to live all these years later.
I couldn’t help but think of the individuals that walked off those boats and onto that sand. When I was in Normandy, it was windy, cold, and rainy, much like it would have been on June 6th, 1944. The soldiers were already sea sick, cold, wet, and afraid, and they were about to step into battle. The eyes of the world were looking with anticipation upon these young men.
Since this took place seventy years ago, we know exactly how the story ends. The Allies win, we know that, but those young men that stepped out of the safety of their ships did not know that. They just knew they were going to do whatever it took to win, even if that meant they would have to die trying.
I have such a deep admiration for the World War II generation. Most of the men that stormed the beaches of Normandy were very young. During World War II, when other countries thought about the youth of America, they thought of brave soldiers, willing to sacrifice themselves for freedom.
So much has changed since the 1940’s. Unfortunately, when the average person thinks of America’s youth now, they think of social media, rebellion, irresponsibility, and selfishness. Of course, not every teenager is like that, but that is the label the majority of people would put on our country’s youth today.
I know we have the capability of doing great things. Those young people that stormed the beaches of Normandy were just regular people. The only difference between that generation and ours is that the majority of that generation was willing to do what the majority of our generation is not. And I am not just talking about going to war. I have a great respect for the military, but those men did more than just sign up for war. They had convictions. They were motivated. They were willing to fight for what they believed in.
As I stood in the Normandy Cemetery, a great influencer in my life, Dr. Jay Strack, said that our generation is going to have its own battles to fight. It might not be on a beach with guns and grenades, but there will come a time when we have to fight for what we believe in, too. Satan is after us. The Christian life is a battleground, and there is not a time for us to be passive. The eyes of the world are upon us now. I have written about this more than once, because it is so important for us to grasp. There cannot be a battle without soldiers that are engaged in what they are doing. If the soldiers are disengaged in the fight, then they will lose.
However friends, don’t be discouraged. As another great influencer in my life, Dr. Brent Crowe says, “One of the greatest things about the kingdom of God is that you don’t have to do everything, you just have to do your thing”. You do not have to go win the whole war on your own. That is not your job. You just fight a good fight. You do your thing with excellence for the glory of The Lord. Don’t get overwhelmed by what everyone else should be doing. You just do what you are called to do. I promise you, if we were faithful to do what we do with excellence, we would change the way people view our generation. Battles are won by soldiers who just do their job well.
Lucky for us, we get to fight all these battles knowing that we have already won the war. “We don’t fight for victory, we fight from victory” (Steven Furtick). Those men who fought at Normandy did not know whether or not they were going to win the war. As Christians, even though we might lose a few battles, we will still win in the end, because of Jesus’ finished work on the cross.
The eyes of the world are upon us, friends. What are they going to see? We can change their perspective of us simply by doing what we do with excellence. What are we going to do about the beaches that we need to storm and the battles we need to fight in our lives? I have full confidence that, with God on our side, we can be unstoppable. Do your best in all you do. Be brave. Remember those young men, that were just like you, that believed in something enough they were willing to die for it.