D-Day book coverSeveral years ago, Mahesh Chavda gave me the book, D-Day by Stephen E. Ambrose, stating that he thought it contained a message for me.  It did.  In fact, I think it contains a crucial message for the church in our time.

Even the Soviet dictator, Joseph Stalin, acknowledged that the Allied invasion of Europe on D-Day was one of the most extraordinary human accomplishments in history.  The plans were so complex that they required hundreds of units, and tens of thousands of men to be at exactly the right place to accomplish their mission by the designated time.

When Winston Churchill viewed the plans, he felt the entire mission was an exercise in insanity.  If just one unit failed to meet their objective, it could throw off the entire operation. He knew this kind of complex operation was hardly possible in the best-run small organization, much less an entire army.  Not only was such coordination between so many units from the navies, armies, and air forces of different nations, far beyond anything that had been accomplished before, even in war games, but they had to cope with a desperate and powerful enemy who would challenge them at every point.  Churchill was sure that it could not be done.  Then he looked up and saw the confidence of General Eisenhower, and immediately agreed that they could do it!

After leaving the meeting with Eisenhower, Churchill acknowledged to General Montgomery that the plan was impossible, but he also marveled at how differently he felt every time he looked at Eisenhower.  In truth, the entire plan that Eisenhower had put together was far too complex, far beyond the ability of any army on earth to accomplish, and would in fact collapse within the first twenty minutes of the invasion.  Of the hundreds of different units with specific objectives for that day, not more than a few dozen actually accomplished them.  Many actually landed on beaches miles from where they were supposed to be.  Under the merciless fire of the Germans, it was impossible for them to march down the beach to get to the right places.

The confusion on the beach itself caused a great number of men to get completely separated from their units, with some not being reunited for weeks.  From the beginning, the beaches were a caldron of death and chaos.  The insanely intricate plan the generals had spent years developing was useless, even before the sun had fully risen.  Even so, it worked!  The Allies won.  How did this happen?

Sergeants and junior officers improvised, making up their own plans as they went.  If they couldn’t accomplish their own objectives they would take up someone else’s, hoping another group would accomplish theirs.  They won the day because in the midst of terrible confusion they did not let the confusion prevail.  They took initiative and fought with all they had.  Nineteen and twenty year-old sergeants and lieutenants boldly made decisions that should have been reserved for generals.  Everyone decided to do whatever it took to win and worry about who got the credit or blame later.

Stephen Ambrose wrote that it was not the plan that won that day, and not even the might of the army, but democracy won the Battle of D-Day.  Freedom had produced men and women who could think for themselves.  Freedom is hard.  It is hard to make decisions, and freedom allows many mistakes to be made.  These mistakes can cause very hard times, such as the Great Depression these young men and women had grown up in.  In the Depression, the government did not have the kind of “safety nets” that we do now.  If you did not take initiative, you could very well starve.  The hard times had worked in them an ability to survive and take initiative even under the worst of circumstances.  One could actually say that the Great Depression was what enabled the Allies to win World War II.

In contrast to the Allied forces, even the German generals could not make a decision without approval from Berlin.  If the German officers had the same freedom to react to the circumstances as needed, they could have quickly and easily repelled even the most organized invasion.  And the one that hit the beaches on D-Day in such confusion and disorder would have presented an easy task.

Did General Eisenhower know the day would unfold as it did?  To some degree he must have.  Every soldier who has experienced battle knows that no battle ever unfolds as it is planned.  The force that can best cope with the confusion of battle and take decisive action will win.  Any general would have known this outrageously complex plan would never unfold the way it was planned, and Eisenhower must have too.  Just as every successful football coach will spend days formulating a brilliant game plan, they usually know they will have to throw it away quickly, since situations on the field rarely unfold according to such neat plans.

What does this have to do with us?  As we are told in 1 John 5:19, “We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.”  We are living in enemy territory.  We have been dropped behind enemy lines!  We are an invasion force that is here to retake the land.  What kind of soldier is the church producing for this invasion?  Will they have the faith, resolution, and courage to take initiative when they need to?  Or are we producing automatons that have been so conditioned by a weak and intimidated leadership that they cannot function without the approval of others?

As Dr. R.T. Kendall points out in his classic work,  Believing God, it seems that the only common denominator found with those listed in Hebrews 11 is that they all did something no one had ever done before.  Is that not one of the greatest demonstrations of faith, to press beyond the present limits, to take initiative, and be creative?  Is that not what Jonathan did when he attacked the Philistine garrison with just an armor bearer?  Is that not what David did when he slew Goliath?  He was not even in the army yet!

True faith is only experienced when we press beyond our comfort level.  Great faith requires that we even step out past others.  The greatest faith may be going where no one has gone before, and doing what no one has done before.  However, faith is not from trust in ourselves, but in the One whom we know rules over all.


~ Pastor Rick Joyner

Rick JoynerPastor Rick Joyner is the founder and executive director of MorningStar Ministries and Heritage International Ministries and is the Senior Pastor of MorningStar Fellowship Church.

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