“You must be born again.” –Jesus, John 3:7
Last June 6th, about thirty veterans of D-Day, all in their 90s and 100s, celebrated seventy-five years of the greatest of victories in Normandy, France. D-Day was the largest naval, air, and land operation in history. Hitler himself was astounded by what was accomplished on this day in 1944. He asked his generals, “How did the enemy land so many soldiers on those Normandy beaches in just one day?” Indeed, this in itself was the most astounding accomplishment of this most famous operation in the history of mankind.
More than 150,000 troops representing the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada landed in five designated landing zones on a 50-mile stretch of beach in northwestern France all on one day. The greatest armada of all time set sail from England for German-defended France. The casualties that day were enormous, particularly on codenamed “Omaha Beach,” but the bridgehead won against the Nazi defenders, ensuring the beginning of the end of the Third Reich.
The specific answer to Hitler’s question was the Higgins’ Beach Landing Craft of nearly one thousand boats devoted to this operation and used primarily once and for all on this decisive day. Carrying thirty-six soldiers and measuring 36 feet by 11 feet, these boats’ top speed was nine knots. Fifty-five of them were destroyed on Omaha Beach alone. In the few days after D-Day, the original bridgehead was greatly enlarged and the march to Berlin began.
These small boats were barely seaworthy, made for the express purpose of landing soldiers on beaches from the large troop ships 8-10 miles offshore. These “soldier-delivering,” rectangular, flat-bottom boats, called “coffins” by some of the soldiers precariously ensconced in them, were developed by a New Orleans boat builder for this very purpose, all in preparation for a singular 24-hour span of time which altered the course of history.
One night in the first century, Jesus met with a man intending to hide the encounter from peering eyes. He told him of a once-for-all event with infinite meaning for mankind that would define eternal history. Jesus said to this man, “Nicodemus, you must be born again!” Just as He said it to him, He says to you and to each of us, “You must be born again!”
It is a once-for-all, life-transforming act. Just as every person has but one physical birth, he or she experiences only one spiritual birth by the Spirit of God, a once-for-all gateway into the kingdom of God. Once such occurs, no one, no thing, no power can pluck you out of the hand of Jesus Christ. You are eternally His; you are forever adopted into God’s family.
Unlike actual D-Day, where tens of thousands personally participated, a far vaster crowd of saints over all the ages of history experience their own D-Day when they are born again by the Spirit of God; their eternity is thereby forever secured. Jesus died once for all on the cross of Calvary, where He willingly gave His own lifeblood that you, once for all, might be born again.
This November 11th, we celebrate Veterans’ Day. In it, we remember the very great number of American veterans who served in the Armed Forces for the purpose of winning, protecting, and sustaining your freedom. D-Day is one of those grand memories truly honoring every veteran. But the greatest of once-for-all victories in your life is the day you were born again. It was won in the greatest of all battles on a cross on Golgotha.
This Monday, as you remember and celebrate veterans and their many battle victories over hundreds of years in far-flung battlefields spanning continents, remember even more your own greatest victory: being born again by the Spirit of God, sealing you for eternal life once for all.
“O to grace how great a debtor daily I’m constrained to be! Let Thy goodness like a fetter bind my wandering heart to Thee. Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it. Prone to leave the God I love; here’s my heart, O take and seal it, seal it for Thy courts above.”
(Third verse of Robert Robinson’s hymn, “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing,” 1757)
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