On Friday evenings about sunset, on a lonely stretch along the eastern Florida seacoast, one could regularly see an old man walking -- white-haired, bushy eye-browed, slightly bent. Each and every Friday night, until his death in 1973, he would return carrying a large bucket of shrimp. The sea gulls would flock to him, and he would feed them from his bucket. And he would thank them when doing so.
To the casual observer, his actions would be met with some mixture of bemusement, ridicule and pity. But those who had insight and understanding saw something far different.
The old man was Captain Eddie Rickenbacker, the most decorated American ace pilot of World War I. Many years before, in October, 1942, Captain Rickenbacker was on a mission in a B-17 to deliver an important message to General Douglas MacArthur in New Guinea. But then the unexpected occurred…
Somewhere over the South Pacific, his plane -- the Flying Fortress -- became lost beyond the reach of radio. Fuel ran dangerously low, so Rickenbacker and his passengers ditched their plane in the ocean. For nearly a month Captain Eddie and his companions would fight the water, the weather, the scorching sun, and their most formidable foe: STARVATION. Eight days out, their rations were long gone or destroyed by the salt water. Their situation looked very bleak.
At one point, Captain Rickenbacker was dozing with his hat pulled down over his eyes when something remarkable happened: ”Something landed on my head. I knew that it was a sea gull. … Everyone else knew, too. No one said a word, but peering out from under my hat brim without moving my head, I could see the expression on their faces. They were staring at that gull. The gull meant FOOD … if I could catch it.”
Captain Eddie caught the gull. Its flesh was eaten. Its intestines were used for bait to catch fish. The survivors were sustained and their hopes renewed because a lone sea gull, uncharacteristically hundreds of miles from land, seemingly offered itself as a sacrifice.
And… Rickenbacker never forgot to remember that one which, on a day long past, gave itself without a struggle, a sacrifice that meant salvation to him and others. *
Every Sunday, there are people in various parts of the world that pause
to reflect on the ULTIMATE Sacrifice that has been made for mankind.
The memorial is the Lord’s Supper (see 1 Corinthians 11:23-30) and the participants are Christians. They are commemorating the death of Jesus, God’s Son, who died on the cross to pay the redemption price for the sins of the world (Eph 1:7; 1 John 2:2).
YOU can also receive the benefits of Jesus’ atoning sacrifice if you will:
place your faith and trust in Jesus (Acts 16:30-31), turn from sin in repentance (Acts 17:30-31), confess Him before men (Romans 10:9-10), and be baptized (immersed)
in His name for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38). Then, as Christians, we continue to follow Him and look forward to an ETERNAL home in heaven (Revelation 22).
Won’t YOU gratefully accept His offer of salvation on His terms?
- David A. Sargent, minister for the church of Christ at Creekwood in Mobile, Alabama, is also the editor of an electronic devotional entitled Living Water." To learn more about this excellent resource contact David via their website: http://www.creekwoodcc.org
[* Adapted from “The Old Man and the Gulls” from Paul Harvey’s The Rest of the Storyby Paul Aurandt, 1977, quoted in Heaven Bound Living, Knofel Stanton, Standard, 1989, pp. 79-80 as qtd. in “Sermon Illustrations,” www.Bible.org]