Third Army Headquarters
December 8, 1944
“This is General Patton; do you have a good prayer for weather? We must do something about those rains if we are to win the war.”
Lt. Gen. George S. Patton was on the phone with his head chaplain, Msgr. James H. O’Neill. Third Army Headquarters may have been in Nancy, but three of Patton’s divisions had been mobilized to flank the German offensive in the Northeast corner of the country. It was a surprise, and the final offensive, by the failing Third Reich, and it was proving successful.
The German front line had expanded; territory was being reclaimed. Germany had home field advantage; the European autumn had given overcast skies and heavy rain for two solid months, grounding Allied air support. Sometimes the rain was so thick, visibility was limited to only a few feet. It was the second act of the month-long Battle of the Bulge, which would go down as the deadliest battle for the United States in World War II.
Happy Memorial Day.
Recently, we looked at what works based religion looks like. We said that if we try to earn approval from God, whether it is based on a general “karma” mindset, or a list of rules, we will ultimately be driven by fear, whether that is fear of missing out on some blessing meant for us, or fear of doing something to invite in some negative experience.
On Wednesday, we looked at the teachers who were in some of the elementary schools that were hit by tornadoes in Oklahoma. When the buildings began to shake, some teachers covered children with their own bodies. They felt the wind and debris hitting them in the back while they told the children under them that they were going to be okay, while the children submitted to their teachers, taking shelter and comfort under their sacrifices.
It seems that something bigger than themselves was driving them to sacrifice their own selves in order to pass on a legacy to an innocent child. We saw where the Bible says that we must all become innocent children in order to enter into Heaven. What does that even mean? Can a four-star general humble himself and become a little child?
O’Neill wrote the prayer himself, typing it on an index card. On the reverse, he included a Christmas blessing to the Third Army. He hand-delivered the card to Patton, who read it and handed it back.
“Have 250,000 copies printed and see to it that every man in the Third Army gets one.”
By December 14, the order was completed. On December 20, the rain, fog, and even the clouds lifted, to the surprise of even Allied forecasters. The Germans were found hyper-extended and in the sights of a well-rested Air Force.
Even though many Allied nations participated, when the Battle of the Bulge ended, even Winston Churchill credited the victory decisively to United States efforts.
So Patton did something works based, right? He had an idea that involved God, he put his weight behind the idea, and the idea pleased God. Thus, Patton’s fears were averted, and we have discovered the +15 Prayer of Weather Control in “The Massively Massive Multiplayer Online and Real Life Role Play.”
Well, not exactly.
If someone were truly capable of using works to manipulate the will of God, we could hail that person as God also.
As powerful a man and legend that Patton was, he would end up perishing exactly one year after the Battle of the Bulge, not from enemy fire, but from a peacetime traffic accident. Was he our only hope?
“No. [But] there is another.”
– The philosopher Yoda.
Sorry, that was just for the search engines. Here:
Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. — Matthew 5:17
That was Christ speaking, you see. He was human, and yet, he kept every commandment in the Old Testament. He performed miracles with the power of God to open the eyes of those around him to believe.
And with that logic, I make the argument that Christ was God in the flesh, even without invoking the more direct Bible passages saying as much.
27 Can we boast, then, that we have done anything to be accepted by God? No, because our acquittal is not based on obeying the law. It is based on faith.
That, like many snippets of the Bible, sums up Jesus Christ. He was sent by the Father to be the only one that can uphold the Law. But why would God come to earth to follow his own rules?
The answer is in his sacrifice. He allowed himself to be slaughtered, because that was in the Law too. If you live under the curse, so must you die. But since Christ died under the curse, we can choose to partake in that sacrifice.
In other words: It’s not that you get out of the charges. You’re guilty (me too). It’s that we are allowed to get out of the death penalty. If you believe in Christ’s sacrifice, and partake in it, you become free. He dies on your behalf.
So what exactly does that look like?
Many pastors expect me to give you the “sinner’s prayer” here. I’ll never. Why? It is not a prayer! The prayer is a formality. It is the door-frame. It is not the door-way.
Rather, the first step is to realize that you are guilty. That’s it. No spin, no attempt to justify. Just “Yeah, I can’t keep any law. I’m hopeless.”
From there, yes, you can pray. You surrender. Ask him to cover you and whisper that it’s going to be fine while the tempest of life slashes at his back.
You die to Him in that moment, and He dies in your sin. Be a helpless child, like Patton, and Christ will be your rock.
With love, Joel