USS Yorktown: The Fighting Lady

Built from 1934-1936 and commissioned in 1937, the USS Yorktown was involved in some major battles in WWII and received the nickname . . . The Fighting Lady. There were four announcements that the crew of 2,217 sailors and about 300 aviators didn’t want to hear.

1. “Battle Stations!” That meant they were about to enter combat.

2. “Fire!” This didn’t mean to shoot at anyone. It meant there was a fire on board the ship. The ship was home, and there was no front or back door to leave a burning inferno, so fire was a dreaded enemy.

3. “Stand by for attack!” In battle, everyone from the captain to the newest recruit knew he might be killed.

4. “Abandon Ship!” This one was nerve-wracking because the nearest land was three miles away–straight down! And sharks were not the kind of company they preferred.

Dad was on the Yorktown each time it engaged the enemy. With headphones on, he heard the blood-curdling words, “Zeros at 50 miles out!” These Zeros, sometimes called Bandits, were Japanese fighter-bombers and torpedo planes.

“Zeros at 25 miles out. Stand by for air and torpedo attack!”

Dad’s mind raced back to the battle of the Coral Sea just four short weeks earlier. It seemed like a year ago, yet it felt like yesterday. An armor-piercing bomb hit the flight deck and sliced through three more decks before exploding in the room next to his station. It immediately obliterated 35 of his shipmates, but if it had been eight feet closer, it would have also splattered Dad.

Dad’s job was to pass reports to damage-control crews who then fought their way through the rubble and did their best to put out fires, make repairs, and keep The Fighting Lady afloat.

But he did much more than that. Through his interaction with men of all rank, he taught them how to face adversity, face hardship, and even face death with head held high and without fear. He revealed his faith in God when the world seemed to be falling apart, and shared emotional and spiritual strength through personal conviction.

2nd Class Petty Officer Stanford E. Linzey, Jr., loved the Lord, loved life, and loved people. He never hated anyone, including the Japanese. But he was a man with high integrity, and to the best of his ability, he did his job to help his country.

The above is an excerpt from the introduction to the book Dead in the Water. The book was written by Captain Stanford E. Linzey, Jr., CHC, USN, Retired. The introduction was added by my brother, Stanford E. Linzey III. I plan to post several excerpts leading up to December 7, also known as National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day.

Embryonic Faith

When a female butterfly places an egg on the leaf, it contains the yolk: a thick liquid that has the “germ” of the future caterpillar, plus the food it will need until it hatches. This is crucial because even though the critter might be in the egg for only a week or two, it requires immediate nourishment or it will die. It is fascinating that in every step of the metamorphic process, there is a marvelous combination of beauty and function.

I think this is also true for human beings, especially in the context of the quest for spiritual growth. When we start our journey as a disciple, everything we need to sustain our new life of faith is in place. We have the Holy Spirit living inside of us. We have a sense of faith, even if it’s at the embryonic level. These two will sustainment us and carry us to the next level.

According to 2 Peter 1:3-4, His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

In the passage above, do you notice the goal of participating in the divine nature? That will be the focal point when we discuss the adult butterfly. The creature still in the egg isn’t even close to looking like or behaving like the mature insect, though. It’s not even a crawling bug yet. There are many changes that will have to happen before it gets to the finish line.

Similarly, there are many changes and much growth a believer has to experience before getting to where the Lord wants him or her to be. So, we take it one day at a time until we see the Lord’s handiwork manifesting in our life and character.

There’s nothing wrong with being in the egg if you’re brand new to the life of faith or haven’t even started yet. It’s totally fine to be where you are at this stage of your spiritual life. Take nourishment from what’s around you, learn from others, and ask the Lord for his help. I guarantee that his divine power will give you everything you need for a godly life, and if you hang in there, you are well on your way to participating in the divine nature. That’s God’s promise . . . even for those who are still in the egg.

The Butterfly Lays an Egg

When discussing plants and animals, a fundamental principle of modern science is that every living thing comes from an egg, and this is where the story about Butterfly Believers begins. After mating, a female butterfly deposits her eggs on or under a leaf, gluing it on so that it cannot be blown off or removed. In many species, the caterpillar hatches in just a few days.

Every one of us begins the spiritual journey somewhere. We might have grown up in a Christian family. Some are invited to a church or a small group that meets in a home. Others come to faith in Christ later in life. Whoever we are and wherever we find ourselves spiritually, the Lord reaches out to us and provides the spark of faith, fans it into flame, and our relationship with Christ begins.

This can be seen in my own family. My grandfather converted to Christ at about age seventy-five, living the last twenty-four years of his life as a dedicated Christian who read the scriptures every day and became a deacon in the little Baptist church near his farm. My father was a sailor in the Navy when he met a young lady who invited him to church. He became a Christian and they eventually married. I grew up in a Christian home.

I know people who turned to God during a crisis and found that the Lord provided the help they needed. I’ve talked with others who just felt there was something missing in their life and discovered a God who filled the emptiness inside. A few have told me they had a friend who changed so much after experiencing Christ that they were drawn to the Lord. There are others who came to faith because of a miraculous experience.

In 1st Corinthians 3:5-7, the writer uses a different metaphor.

What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task. I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.

In these verses, the Corinthian believers are likened to a plant or a crop. Their faith journey began when someone planted the seed. The Lord sent someone else to provide the water. The seeds sprouted, took root, began to grow, and then flourished.

The point is that we all have to start somewhere. In the same way that every plant or animal comes from an egg, each of us begins the spiritual journey like that butterfly egg. We are alive. We have potential. The Lord wants to take us step by step on a path that will help us develop emotionally, relationally, and spiritually.

The Risk of Faith

Daniel was thrown into a lion’s den because he prayed three times a day to his God. But the Lord protected him, and the ferocious beasts lay down and purred.

Not far from there, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego were thrown into a blazing fire because they refused to bow down and worship a golden statue. Instead, they declared,

“Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.” (Daniel 3:17-18 NKJV)

Their faith didn’t depend on whether they escaped. They were fully prepared to risk everything, which meant they didn’t serve the Lord only during the good times. They didn’t trust God only to get their way. There was nothing selfish about their prayer, their life, or their religion. Their faith in God was genuine, even when it resulted in persecution. Even when it meant risking their lives. Death was certain, and they knew it—unless God did a miracle. Either way, they were determined to be faithful.

The fire was so hot that the soldiers escorting them to the flames died on the spot. But for Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, not a hair on their head or their arms was singed, and not a thread of their clothing burned. They never even felt the heat. It was like they were taking a walk in the park on a cool, breezy day.

When the smoke cleared, King Nebuchadnezzar looked into the furnace, and to his amazement, there was a fourth man in the flames with them. The king couldn’t believe his eyes. Daniel 3:25 reports Nebuchadnezzar’s amazement.

“Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.” (Daniel 3:25 NIV)

Daniel understood the dangers of breaking the law and praying to his God. Hungry lions can easily tear a man apart. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego knew the risks when they decided not to bow to the king’s statue.

However, God intervened, and Daniel survived to tell the King once more about the goodness and reality of the true God. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, encountered the Lord right there in the middle of the blazing heat.

The eleventh chapter of Hebrews makes it clear that not everyone who takes the risk of faith will escape pain or death. I would encourage you to read the entire chapter, but verses 32–38 show how the situations turned out for some of God’s people. And verse 39 adds,

“These were all commended for their faith.” (Hebrews 11:39 NIV)

Being a disciple of Jesus Christ always involves risk. Some will face ridicule. Others might lose their jobs. Some are abandoned by their family. Others experience physical torture. Some will survive. Others may die. What is God asking you to risk?

The bottom line is that your faith will cost you something. God is calling you to accept the challenge, count the cost, and take the risk.

Christians in many places around the world are experiencing persecution at this moment. In the same way, it might cost you something to follow Jesus. But like those men in the book of Daniel, you can be faithful regardless of the outcome, because the fourth man in the fire is going to be there with you.

This article was featured on CBN.org as the daily devotional reading on October 13, 2021. The link to the article is https://www1.cbn.com/devotions/the-risk-of-faith.

Christmas Present

If you’re wondering what to give someone for Christmas, let me suggest the book Safest Place in Iraq. The emphasis is on the presence of Christ during tough times. And that’s the meaning of Immanuel . . . God is with us.

As one reviewer wrote, “It is very clear that even in the greatest uncertainties of life, God makes a difference for those who turn to Him. Lives touched for Jesus Christ are given the opportunity to be changed for a lifetime.”

Give the gift of faith, hope, and love this year. And if you order it from this website, it’ll get there faster than ordering it on Amazon or Barnes & Noble. Just click on the Books menu above.

Broken & Hurting

loneliness-1879453_1920Many people experience the worst life has to offer. Sometimes, the pain is the result of illness or accident, but at times it is intentionally inflicted by other people.

Debbie grew up in a Christian home, and shortly after high school, met Kyle, a young man who attended the same church. After dating for a year, Kyle asked her to marry him, and she said “yes,” expecting to live happily ever after.

A few months after the wedding, however, Debbie was still on cloud nine when something went terribly wrong. When she got home from work one day, she found out he’d been drinking, and in a rage, he hit her. Horrified, she called their pastor, who provided counseling for several weeks. Things seemed to be getting better, until one night Kyle put a loaded gun to her head. In a panic, Debbie managed to escape. Even though her grandmother lived several miles away, Debbie somehow found the strength to run all the way. She survived, but something inside had broken, making it hard to trust anyone. She left Kyle and abandoned her faith in Christ.

Every one of us is broken in some way. We might look fine on the outside, but inside we’re hurting. If we’re to find healing or any positive result from the pain, it might be helpful to take a look at Job, James, and Jesus to see how we can respond in painful circumstances.

Even though he did everything right, Job suffered terrible business losses, extreme physical pain, and undeserved accusations from his friends. His wife also lost everything, and chose to let go of hope and faith, suggesting that he do the same. Instead, Job turned to the Lord, and began to understand more fully his own weakness and need for God. These are important lessons that sometimes have to be learned the hard way. We have a tendency to be self-sufficient, unaware of our desperate need for God. In his darkest moments, Job chose to turn toward the Lord, and so can we.

The second possibility for meaning in our pain is character growth. James 1:2-4 tells us to remain joyful when we endure tests and trials, because they will help us mature. It is true that pain can break us, but it also has a way of strengthening us and deepening us. The difference is how we respond to the crisis and to the work of the Holy Spirit.

A third potential benefit of tribulation is that it can help us develop compassion for others. When Jesus looked at the crowds, he saw their need and was moved to compassion. He cared about people and saw their hurts. He felt their need, and acted. He fed them, healed them, taught them, loved them. The Apostle Paul picks up this theme in 2 Corinthians 1:4 when he says the Lord comforts us in our troubles so that we can comfort others.

Some people respond to pain by becoming hardened, bitter, or angry. Others are jealous of those who seem to have everything going right. If we want to grow in Christ and enjoy life to its fullest, however, we can’t afford to let either of those happen. Instead, we can turn to the Lord, mature as human beings, and develop a sense of compassion for others.

Silver

There’s a song in the musical version of Les Misérables that a Christian pastor sings to a hungry, homeless criminal, “Come in, sir, for you are weary, and the night is cold out there. There’s a bed to rest til morning, rest from pain and rest from wrong.”

That’s what the Lord is saying to us in Matthew 11:28. “Come to me, you who are tired, carrying a heavy load, and I will give you rest.” Rest from pain, and rest from wrong.

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